Smart Ways to Fund Innovation

13th March 2020

In an ever-changing world, businesses are under increasing competitive pressure to be more efficient, more productive, more agile, more lean, and ultimately more innovative. Research and development (R&D) is not therefore something reserved for the few, and as business guru Peter Drucker put it, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”.

Wise words indeed. But how do you fund innovation? R&D Tax Credits are an excellent incentive and have the added advantage of being retrospective. My Tax colleagues are experts in assisting clients to make successful claims in this area and are happy to advise on eligibility.

Another alternative is grant funding. Innovate UK (part of UK Research & Innovation) runs an array of grant funding competitions. Its Smart Grant programme considers eligible costs ranging from £25,000 to £2.0m, depending on the duration of the project (6-36 months). Projects must be UK-based and include at least one SME.

Intervention rates vary depending on size of applicant and the type of R&D involved. The current Smart Grant competition has £25m allocated and provides funding for innovative R&D from feasibility (including market research), through to technology or prototype testing and development stages up to (but not including) commercialisation.

New findings from Innovate UK show that a half of young people in the UK think their age is a barrier to business success with nearly a third lacking the confidence they need to turn their idea into a reality.

The new £2.2m Young Innovators Programme in partnership with The Prince’s Trust aims to help address these issues.

The national Young Innovators Awards will go to 18–30 year-olds with a creative and ground-breaking business idea to support them in turning it into reality. The programme will support up to 100 young people over 3 years with individuals benefitting from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one coaching and an allowance to cover living costs.

Innovate UK is also running a pilot programme of loan competitions over 3 years to the end of 2020.

Aimed at late stage R&D projects, innovation loans of between £100,000 and £1.0 million are being offered through loan competitions to SMEs that want to scale up and grow by developing new or improved products, processes or services.

Details of the current round of grants, loans and competitions can be found here. 

For details on R&D Tax Credits, innovation or other forms of grant funding, contact Ewan McClymont, Grants & Business Development Director, on 03333-219000 or email



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