Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:

  • the arts, design and media
  • creative industries
  • science or engineering

Whilst we welcome projects that overlap with the grand challenge areas this is not a requirement, as we are also keen to support projects in other areas.

We may consider total eligible project costs over £2 million (but not exceeding £3 million), subject to the process set out under ‘Eligibility’.

Your project

Your application must include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). They can be the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner.

Your project must start no later than 1 July 2021 and end no later than 31 July 2024.

Your project must follow specific rules based on its duration.

Projects with a duration of:

  • 6 to 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.
  • 19 to 36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. They must be collaborative projects.

Lead organisation

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your R&D project activity in the UK
  • intend to commercially exploit the project results from or in the UK
  • be an SME if you want to work alone
  • include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisationspublic sector organisations or charities

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

UK registered businesses or RTOs can only lead on one application. (There are additional rules for RTOs: see the competition page for full details.)

All partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing, innovative, disruptive and ambitious idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays, etc) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
  • clear, considerable potential to significantly impact either or both, the UK economy and productivity in a positive way
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions

Projects can be at different levels of technological maturity, up to but not including commercialisation.

An online briefing event will be held on 4th December: details will appear here when available.

If you want help to find a project partner, or to discuss the big trends and issues in your marketplace, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.