Innovate UK Smart Grants frequently asked questions

We’ve ranked the most common questions we receive about Innovative UK’s Smart Grants to create our list of the top frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you’d like to discuss a potential project or have any other questions about Smart Grants, please contact us using the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

About Innovate UK Smart Grants

1. What does Innovate UK fund?

Innovate UK funds development and commercialisation of new products, processes and services. Our Innovation & Grant consultants can help you find the right grant funding opportunity for your project.

2. What are Smart Grants?

Smart Grants is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme for innovations that address a clear market gap, are game-changing and world leading.

Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel (not just disruptive within the sector), set for rapid commercialisation, with a clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity, and competitiveness within the global market. Our consultants can help you decide whether this competition is the best funding opportunity for your research project.

3. What is the difference between a Smart Grant and other funding competitions?

Smart Grants is Innovate UK’s open programme and funds a cross-sector portfolio of projects. Whereas many other funding programmes are sector and/or subject focussed, this competition is explicitly designed to address a gap where specific funding competitions or other options are not available or appropriate. Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy.

4. Are Smart Grants notified state aid?

Smart Grants is a government funded scheme and therefore funding is provided in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. This means restrictions may apply if you have received a previous grant. Please contact us for more information.

5. How much funding is available?

Up to £25 million is allocated to the Smart Grants programme per round to fund innovative Research & Development (R&D) projects. There are usually four or five funding rounds each year.

6. What percentage of project costs does a Smart Grant fund?

The percentage of funding varies depending on the stage of your research project (e.g., feasibility study, industrial research, or experimental development) and the size of your organisation. You can receive up to a maximum of 70% funding towards your eligible project costs.  Successful applicants are expected to fund the remaining project costs.

7. How much Smart Grant funding can I apply for?

Projects of 6 to 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000 and can be single or collaborative. 19 to 36 month projects must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million and must be collaborative.

However, the amount of funding you can expect to receive for your organisation also depends on the stage of your research project (e.g., feasibility study, industrial research, or experimental research) and the size of your organisation. We’ve created an overview showing all options on our Smart Grants funding page. You can also contact our Innovation & Grant Consultants to discuss your research project and the percentage of funding that you could receive under the Smart Grants programme.

Application process Smart Grants

8. How do you qualify for a Smart Grant?

To qualify for a Smart Grant, you must include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner. Only SMEs can apply as a single applicant. UK registered businesses of any size or research and technology organisations (RTOs) are eligible if the project is collaborative.

You must carry out all Research & Development (R&D) activities in the UK and you must intend to exploit the project results from or in the UK.

9. How do you apply for a Smart Grant?

To apply for a Smart Grant, you need to supply detailed information about your project which showcases the innovation and its commercial viability. Your application must include information about your team structure, competitors, and the scale of the market opportunity.

Our Innovation & Grant Consultants have a wealth of experience in supporting companies applying for the Smart Grants competition and we can help you create a strong proposal.

Smart Grants success rates

10. How competitive are Smart Grants?

The Smart Grants competition is one of the most competitive funding programmes in the UK.  Only a small percentage (typically 5-10%) receive funding and only the best game-changing new and novel ideas are chosen.

11. How do you win a Smart Grant?

Applications need to receive an evaluation score of 80% or more to be considered for funding. Our Innovation & Grant Consultants have the experience to help you create a successful proposal. If you wish to discuss your project idea or find out more about our grant writing services, please get in touch.

Deadlines and calls

12. When is the Smart Grant deadline?

The next submission deadline is 14th June 2023, with further rounds expected later in 2023.

13. How many Smart Grant calls are there?

There are usually four rounds of the competition each year.

Grant writing support

14. What are the benefits of our grant writing support for your Smart Grants application?

Due to high levels of competition for Smart Grants, you’ll need an excellent proposal for Innovate UK to consider funding your project. Our funding specialists know the competition inside and out and have helped many organisations successfully win funding.

We can help you create a strong application that maximises your chances of winning a grant. Read more about our grant writing services or contact us for more information about how we can support your application.


Other questions? Contact our grant consultants

Do you have any other questions or would like to know more about a specific Smart Grant call in 2023? Please contact us. Our consultants have extensive experience with Innovate UK funding and grant schemes and can help you with your application, or help you find the best funding opportunities for your project. Call +44 (0)161 488 34 88 or send a message through our contact form and we’ll contact you as soon as possible:

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