Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late-stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Your project must lead to new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

A briefing for potential applicants will be held online on 21st March, 11 am – 12.30 pm: click here to register for a place.

Attendees are also encouraged to take part in:

  • Guide to a Good Project Application Workshop – 28 March 2022 – 12:00 – 13:00
  • Financial Submission Workshop – 4 April 2022 – 14:00 – 15:30
  • Credit drop-in sessions with the Innovation Loans Credit team – Friday 8 April 2022.

These can all be booked by clicking here. Drop-in sessions with credit specialists are also available; see the funding page for details.

A PDF infographic on the competition can also be downloaded here.

Scope

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes or sub-themes:

Net Zero

  • energy
  • impact of industrial processes and use of materials
  • agriculture and food and other sources of emissions
  • capital intensity

Health and Wellbeing

  • tackling ill-health
  • enhancing Wellbeing
  • diet and food

Next-generation digital technologies

Technology families

  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • artificial intelligence
  • digital and advanced computing
  • bioinformatics and genomics
  • engineering biology
  • electronics, photonics and quantum technologies
  • energy and environment technologies
  • robotics and smart machines

Innovate UK are also particularly interested in receiving applications from diverse businesses; those involving communities that are typically under-represented, including from regions outside the “Golden Triangle” (London, Oxford and Cambridge) or with, for example, female, ethnic minority and diverse-ability founders.

Eligibility

You must be able to show that you:

  • need public funding
  • can cover interest payments
  • will be able to repay the loan on time

To receive an innovation loan for a new project you must:

  • be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • carry out your project from or in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan

Individuals, large companies, not for profits, charities, academic institutions, and research organisations are not eligible for innovation loans. Only single businesses can receive loans, so collaboration with other organisations cannot be funded in this competition. Your business can only submit one application per round of this competition.

Financing

The funding available will be allocated across a series of four competitions with the next round opening on the day the previous round closes. The final round 4 will close on 13 July 2022.

  • round 1 opens 10 March 2022 (this competition)
  • round 2 opens 14 April 2022
  • round 3 opens 12 May 2022
  • round 4 opens 9 June 2022

You can apply for a loan of between £100,000 and £2 million to fund your project’s eligible costs. Projects can last up to 5 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by July 2022. Interest rates start at 3.7% and will rise to 7.4% in the final repayment period after the project is complete (click here for full details).

If you receive an award, you will also be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.