Granted Consultancy's reason for focusing on Innovate UK is simply that “Innovate UK has become the primary conduit for UK Government to deliver R&D grant funding for businesses in the UK.” The Grant Report 2018 is "An analysis of Innovate UK data to discover the characteristics of a successful grant applicant.”
The headline message is that there has never been a better time for small and micro enterprises to apply to Innovate UK for a grant as their funding distribution in 2017-18 shifted significantly in favour of small and micro enterprises and looks set to continue in that direction.
Massive budget hike for grant funding pot
“Innovate UK’s annual budget is due to be quadrupled within the next 3 years, from £500m per annum to £2bn per annum, in part to support the delivery of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).”
When you consider that in 2015-16 the support provided to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through R&D tax credits/relief was £1.3bn, and you put that together with Innovate UK funding, it adds up to a significant level of investment going into UK businesses to support innovation.
Find out about InnovateUK grants at The London Group this Wednesday 25th April 2018
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The Grant Report highlights that while the UK is recognised as one of the most innovative countries in the world, we fall behind when it comes to commercialising our innovations.
“In an attempt to address this, the UK’s public funding for businesses is increasingly pivoting from regional growth funding, often underpinned by European financial support and linked explicitly towards quantifiable job creation, to funding to accelerate commercialisation of innovative, British-science backed products and services. This innovation funding is increasingly being directed towards small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).”
(Source: all above quotes reproduced from The Grant Report 2018)
The trend towards supporting smaller and even micro enterprises is interesting and I believe a very positive trend. We are living in an age of innovation and after-all every successful big business started as a small business. It is the seed and early stage businesses that have to struggle the most to get the funding they need to survive and grow.
The Grant Report 2018 identifies the following as current priority sectors:
- Clean and flexible energy
- Cutting-edge healthcare and medicine
- Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI)
- Driverless cars
- Manufacturing and future materials
- Satellites and space technology
It provides a number of charts and graphs with very useful insights into Innovate UK funding allocations by sector, geographical distribution of grants awarded, regional distribution by sector, typical project duration and so on.
It also provides data for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funding awards and looks at the differences in their allocations and those of Innovate UK.
Key facts from the report
- Both SERI and Innovate UK awarded more funding to the South East than any other region, although with SERI it was much more pronounced with nearly 50% of their funding going to the South East.
- In 2017-18 micro and small enterprises together accounted for over 53% of the funding distributed while large enterprises accounted for 15%. That compares to large enterprises receiving over 30% in the period from 2004 to 2017.
- In 2017-18 there was a significant shift towards more funding for Health & Life Sciences projects and Emerging & Enabling grants.
- There has been a significant increase in the number of projects with shorter durations (<12 months; 12-24 months) versus longer durations (2+years).
- There has also been a shift toward funding more projects with a single participant although this varies across sectors.
If you are considering applying for a grant, or you support other enterprises that are seeking additional funding for R&D, this report is a must read as it will help you to appraise how well your project fits with Innovate UK or SERI priorities and your chances of success.