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Late Spring 2023 SME Funding Opportunities

During the second quarter of 2023 funding calls are focussed on accelerating a shift within the UK to a net zero economy which includes innovative, collaborative, research and development projects. There are also calls out for feasibility studies in AI, defence, and collaborative R&D internationally in India, Taiwan, and Switzerland.


Feasibility studies for Artificial Intelligence solutions

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £5 million in grant funding to deliver feasibility studies. These will be to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) driven solutions that address a business challenge or opportunity in target industry sectors:

  • construction
  • transport, including logistics and warehousing
  • creative industries
  • agriculture and food processing

The aim of this competition is to support innovative projects prompted by a challenge to business in an area of operations that can drive improvements in business productivity.

Competition closes: 24 May 2023


Net Zero Heat: Design Engineering Innovation Lab

Individuals from UK registered organisations can apply to join a 5 day collaborative workshop to develop project ideas for delivery of net zero heat building upgrades. The Innovation Lab will bring together experts and insights from across different sectors to collaborate effectively and develop new solutions. Organisations can include, but are not limited to, those active in:

  • user-centred design, consumer and sector finance, housing and energy policy, urban planning, justice and equality, law and regulations
  • providers of social services and facilities, third sector organisations working with vulnerable people, skills and training providers, owners of portfolios of buildings
  • automotive, robotics, manufacturing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, remote sensing and computer vision
  • net zero technology and solution providers, construction professionals, building performance evaluation professionals
  • agencies of relevance to making an important contribution to the net-zero mission


Competition closes: 31st May 2023


Net Zero Living Digital Accelerator round 1

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million to develop digital applications to solve challenges in delivering net zero for places. This funding is part of the Net Zero Living programme.

The aim of this competition is to support ambitious, early stage digital focussed businesses in developing and delivering net zero in relation to challenges based on place. This must be done through data driven digital applications and by collaborating with potential customers and product users.

By accelerating their journey, we hope to create high growth businesses that will drive forwards digitalisation across the UK and globally in Net Zero sectors, creating jobs, growing a customer base and delivering customer value.

Your proposal must focus on two or more net zero challenges across:

  • power
  • heat
  • mobility
  • product manufacture and usage

Your digital product must be for domestic, commercial, industrial or local authority users, and must utilise a number of datasets relevant to place. Links to other sectors are also welcome, where relevant to the delivery of net zero.

Competition closes: 7th June 2023


Novel low-emission food production systems: Investor Partnership

UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £3 million to develop novel production systems that create resource efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins. This must align with private investment from selected investor partners.

The aim of this competition is to support UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop novel food production systems. These will be to create new sources of resource efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins, while delivering healthy and sustainable diets.

Your project must progress emerging novel food production systems towards commercial viability with the ability to supply mainstream consumer markets.

Competition closes: 5th July 2023


UK-Taiwan Collaborative R&D

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2million for the purpose of developing innovative proposals with Taiwan. We would particularly welcome applications from the following sectors:

  • smart technology for example next generation communication and semiconductor technology
  • green energy technologies for example electric vehicles, hydrogen transportation and renewable energy
  • smart manufacturing
  • biotechnology for example medical materials
  • service innovation for example the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, 5G and 6G


Competition closes: 19th July 2023


UK – Switzerland Bilateral: Collaborative R&D

UK registered organisations, in collaboration with at least one Swiss registered business can apply for a share of up to £2 million for research projects resulting in innovative solutions. Swiss partners must apply for equivalent funding from Innosuisse.

The aim of this competition is to support UK-Swiss international business-led innovation collaboration. Through grant funding Innovate UK will support UK businesses to collaborate with Swiss counterparts for their mutual global growth prospects.

Your proposal must contribute to the development of commercial products, processes or technical services.

The project must have an obvious advantage and added value resulting from the cooperation between the participants, from the two jurisdictions. These advantages can include:

  • increased innovation capability
  • commercial leads
  • access to R&D infrastructure
  • new fields of application


Competition closes: 26th July 2023


India – UK Collaborative R&D for industrial sustainability

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million to develop innovative proposals with India. This funding is from Innovate UK.

The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects between the UK and India focused on industrial sustainability.

Your proposal must include at least one business partner from the UK and one business partner from India.

Your project must focus on one of these 2 themes:

  • sustainable materials and manufacturing for transforming foundation industries, in particular glass, paper, cements, ceramics, chemicals and metals
  • power electronics, machines and drives


Competition closes: 6th September 2023

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) create dynamic connections between businesses and the UK’s world-class knowledge base to deliver strategic innovation projects. The KTP partnership brings new skills and the latest academic thinking into the business partner to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project.

Transforming your business Knowledge Transfer Partnerships can help your business:

  • Embed expertise, generate new knowledge, expand capability and foster a culture of innovation
  • Drive competitive advantage through accelerated innovation and the possibility of creating Intellectual Property
  • Gain privileged and cost-effective access to the UK’s world-class knowledge base and resources
  • Increase revenue through access to new markets and new product development
  • Improve profits through efficiency gains, increased productivity and better processes
  • Benefit from the strategic input of a highly experienced Knowledge Transfer Adviser and access

Closing Date: Open Call


Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP)

A £16 million programme to boost small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) defence innovation launched in July.

With the innovation of SMEs, the resources of big suppliers and initial funding from government, DTEP is designed to bring the key components together to allow pioneering projects to flourish.

The aim is to keep the UK at the forefront of defence technology, improving the capabilities available to ouThe programme is delivered by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), working with Innovate UK.

Individual grants of up to 50% of a project’s value, to a maximum of £500,000 per grant, will be available through DTEP for collaborative projects between SMEs and larger suppliers.

The grants will support the integration of novel technologies, materials and processes into defence supply chains. The grants will support the integration of novel technologies, materials and processes into defence supply chains.

Closing Date: Open Call

Applying for grant funding can be daunting; from finding the right fund to preparing an application, support is available to you. Reach out to your Innovation Advisor today or contact the team, to find out more about how we can help you reach your innovation and business goals in 2023.

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Dharma Nurse

Dharma Nurse, Senior Innovation Development Manager

Dharma has considerable experience working with different engineering and manufacturing sectors and supply chains. She has recently worked on the Greater Manchester manufacturing strategy and action plan, and was the North West Business Development Manager of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and Business Growth Service. With a strong background in skills, Dharma helped to set up and run a Sector Skills Council for manufacturing and has worked with a host of companies to deliver key Lean Manufacturing projects. She also managed the piloting of the Food Manufacturing Excellence qualification, focussing on process innovation within the food and drink industry.

Dharma organised collaboration with the National Graphene Institute, Business Growth Hub and Business Growth Service to host a series of commercialisation workshops during Graphene Week 2015 and she has since hosted collaborations with Innovate UK and The Knowledge Transfer Network on this topic at Venturefest North West.