Innovate UK Smart Grants: January 2022
Updated: Apr 25
Summary: Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘open grant funding’ programme.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.
Innovate UK secured an uplift in funding in the 2021 spending review, which will enable us to provide an improved range of funding and business support from April 2022. This round of the competition will be the last in the current format.
Open date: 17/01/2022
Close date: 13/04/2022
Max Grant Size (SME): £500,000
Funding Percentage: 70%
Collaboration: Single or collaborative
Funding Type: Innovation Grant
Fund Provider(s): Innovate UK
Description Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘open grant funding’ programme. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused. Innovate UK secured an uplift in funding in the 2021 spending review, which will enable us to provide an improved range of funding and business support from April 2022. This round of the competition will be the last in the current format. Future rounds of the Smart grant will be more focused on supporting proposals from UK based innovative businesses that are destined for early, successful commercialisation, growth and exports. Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:
health and wellbeing
the arts, design and media
We welcome projects that overlap with the Innovate UK Plan for Action. This is not a requirement, and we are also keen to support projects in other areas. Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations are highly encouraged where appropriate in your proposal. You are prompted to consider EDI as part of the application process. Applications will continue to be assessed on their innovation merit, where innovation is defined as the potential for commercially successful exploitation of ideas. In applying to this competition, you are entering into a highly competitive process where your chance of success in securing funding will depend on the number and quality of applications submitted. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Funding type Grant
Project size Projects of 6to18 months must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000 and can be single or collaborative. Projects of 19to36 months must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million and must be collaborative.
Your project Your project must:
include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
start by 1 October 2022
end by 30 September 2025
follow specific rules dependent on its duration
The end by date is the date by which all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted project end date will not be extended. If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months it:
must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
can be single or collaborative
If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:
have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
If you want to submit a collaborative project from 19 months to 36 months duration with total eligible project costs of up to £3 million as a permitted exception, you must email email@example.com. You must provide full justification at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. Unless you have already received our authorisation, any application submitted that does not meet the criteria will be marked as ineligible and will not be sent for assessment. Lead organisation To lead a project your organisation must:
be an SME if you want to work alone
be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if collaborative
include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities
claim grant funding
carry out all your project work in the UK
intend to commercially exploit the results from or in the UK
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone. Project team To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
public sector organisation
research and technology organisation (RTO)
You must carry out all your project work in the UK and intend to commercially exploit the results from or in the UK. Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service. If collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim grant funding by entering their costs during the application. Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs, but they will not count as collaborators. Subcontractors Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors must be based in the UK for the duration of the project and their portion of the project work must be carried out in the UK. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process. We expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Without meeting these criteria, subcontractor’s contribution would be deemed ineligible. Please note that for the purposes of this competition the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not classed as part of the UK, and subcontractors located there would be deemed ineligible. Number of applications Businesses or RTOs can only lead on one application. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will not be forwarded for assessment. All partners can collaborate on any number of applications. Research and technology organisations (RTOs) If you are an RTO then the following rules apply:
To lead you must have 2 or more business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size).
There must be a credible route to market for the output of the project, and since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.
If you are a project partner, you can participate as either a research organisation, and receive 100% grant, or as a business entity, and be reimbursed a percentage of your eligible costs, depending upon your size and the nature of the work.
If participating as a business, you must show that the match funding you are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in. You must also be able to show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.
Previous applications You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. You can make a maximum of 2 submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum. If your application goes through to assessment and is deemed unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. We will not award you funding if you have:
failed to exploit a previously funded project
an overdue independent accountant’s report
failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable) This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage. EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation. Further Information If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations. You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries. If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.
Eligibility Overview Here is a diagram showing a summary of eligibility. This is a new way of showing you eligibility. Your feedback will help us to improve it. Eligibility Tree SMART Jan22.pdf (opens in a new window)
Funding We have allocated up to £25 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically. For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
up to 50% if you are a large organisation
For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
up to 25% if you are a large organisation
For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid. If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003. Research participation The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-s registered institution such as an academic
100% of your eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation or public sector organisation