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Innovation funding round-up

We look at the full range of innovation funding options for Greater Manchester’s small and medium sized businesses.

More expert innovation insight

As business look to fund new products and existing product development, accessing grant funding to contribute towards the costs can often make a significant difference in the speed and quality of innovation. However, innovation funding is not limited to competitive grants that are led by businesses and require match funding.

Whilst grant funding is an important element, the following options are also available to businesses looking to innovate.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are projects that enable businesses (or not-for-profit organisations) to partner with knowledge partners (UK higher education, further education, Research Technology Organisations or Catapults), to bring new skills and the latest academic thinking into the business.

This partnership results in the delivery of a specific project that will have commercial significance for the business. Currently, Innovate UK is investing up to £10 million towards projects. Typically, projects cost around £75,000 per year and can last up to three years. Depending on the business size, the grant towards costs ranges from 50% to 67%.

To apply, businesses must work with a knowledge partner, who will lead the project. To be eligible, the business or not-for-profit must:

  • Have more than two employees
  • Be able to provide a summary of financial accounts from the past three years
  • Be able to demonstrate its ability to financially support its contribution to the project.

To apply or for more information:

As KTPs require a knowledge partner, reach out to the Innovation team at the Hub, who can help establish links with a suitable organisation.

Small Business Research Initiative

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a procurement contract that covers 100% of costs and projects must contain a minimum amount of R&D (specified in each call). SBRI calls are published for specific projects and topics.

SBRI: Innovate at HS2 2020, phase 1

This call is an SBRI competition funded by HS2 Ltd, with the aim of improving project efficiencies and process optimisations through innovation. This competition has two phases, with the first being a feasibility study. Successful applicants who complete their feasibility studies will be invited to apply for a future funding call as well.

To apply, your idea must sit within one of the following themes:

  • Reduce manual operations
  • Project interfaces
  • Waste in construction
  • Recruitment and onboarding
  • Procurement loss prevention

Businesses of any size can apply, and projects can be up to £300,000 (including VAT) in value. Projects must have at least 50% of the contract value applied to Research & Design. Applications must be submitted by 16 December at 11 am. For more information:

Innovation Continuity Loans

Innovate UK is offering up to £210 million in loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that currently face a challenge in continuing, completing or following on an innovation project. These funds are meant for organisations that face a shortage of funds due specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These funds will be offered to organisations with highly innovative, late-stage projects that will have an economic impact via a clear route to commercialisation. Loans of between £250,000 and £1.6 million are available.

To apply for this fund SMEs/third-sector organisations must:

  • Be continuing, completing or following on from innovation activity that has not been supported by an Innovate UK award in the last 36 months
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Give evidence that your organisation is suitable to take on a loan

Projects can last up to three years and applications must be submitted by 13 January at 11am. More information can be found:

Application support

Navigating the different routes to grant funding can be time-consuming and challenging. The Innovation team at the Hub can provide support ranging from ideation to application review and can help when trying to find a suitable funding type for your project. Contact the team to find out more.


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