By Luke Forster, Innovation Consultant
For SME’s looking to raise capital investment in 2024, Innovate UK’s Investor Partnerships Programme could be an ideal opportunity, providing successful applicants with a combination of grant support for research and development and access to capital investment from a select pool of investors, with the aim of helping UK SME’s commercialise their innovations.
Since the scheme was launched, over £53.7Mn in grant funding has been awarded with a remarkable £145Mn in aligned equity investment from investor partners.
Having successfully supported companies across the last 5 rounds, here are some key insights that we have taken that can help potential applicants better understand both the process and how to better position their projects;
- Select the right investor: Before submitting an application, you must secure interest from one of the listed investors. For some applicants, an existing relationship with a listed investor may accelerate this process. If not, then it can take some time to find the right one for your business. Ask questions about their experience with the scheme, their process and level of funding that they would be prepared to offer, all likely requirements in the due-diligence process. Once interest has been secured, they will be required to complete an EOI form that must be submitted in parallel to the Innovate UK grant application. The list of investor partners can be found here.
- Consider forming an ‘investor consortium’: As long as your lead investor is a listed investor partner, you can combine different sources of investment to form the total funding package. Leveraging multiple sources of investment, such as angel investors and non-listed Investor partners, can help strengthen your application and perceived ‘project value for money’.
- Think post-project: The ethos of the scheme is to support scale up and commercialisation not just the project. Comprehensive planning for future business activities ensures a well-rounded application. Pay particular attention to fully describing post-project plans related to commercialisation, deployment and future R&D, including clear costings with justification and identified future funding sources.
- Prepare for post-award due diligence: You should be prepared for a detailed due-diligence process after funding is awarded. Ensure growth forecasts are accurate and up-to-date, all costings are appropriately justified (including salaries), scale-up/commercialisation plans are fully developed and you have full Freedom-to-Operate.
The clock is ticking for the current round (Round 6) which concludes on Tuesday, 27th February 2024. Further information can be found here.
Round 7 is will open on Wednesday, 28th February 2024, with a closing date approximately six weeks later. This is anticipated to be the final round in its current format, so we urge interested parties to initiate the investment/application process as soon as possible.
How PNO can support
PNO has extensive experience of the investor partnership programme and can help applicants position their projects in the best way to optimise the chances of success and support the application process with a flexible writing support service. We would be happy to share further knowledge and insight, and welcome the opportunity to discuss potential project ideas with you, so feel free to get in touch!