Young Innovators

The Young Innovators Awards are an annual competition from Innovate UK that finds, supports and celebrates young people with great business ideas. Innovate UK is helping to build a  more inclusive innovation system by supporting young innovators, from all backgrounds, to become future leaders in innovation, ultimately contributing to a fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable future for us all.

Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has significantly impacted young people due to well documented challenges such as disrupted education, declining mental health, and delayed careers. However, it also triggered a surge in entrepreneurialism, resulting in a third of 18 to 34-year-olds wanting to launch an independent enterprise.

Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Awards empowers young people, aged 18 to 30, looking to turn their innovative idea into a reality.

The Young Innovators programme, which includes annual awards for young people with creative and ground-breaking business ideas and a high-profile #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign, is all part of Innovate UK’s commitment to changing the world by investing in young people with big environmental, societal and economic ambitions.

The Young Innovators programme, which includes annual awards for young people with creative and ground-breaking business ideas and a high-profile #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign, is all part of Innovate UK’s commitment to changing the world by investing in young people with big environmental, societal and economic ambitions.

By 2023, the programme will have awarded more than 250 aspiring entrepreneurs across every region and nation of the UK with an amazing support package that includes:


Young Innovators Benefits

  • We help you cover eligible project costs, including travel to meet customers and partners, attending relevant training courses, equipment, hiring office space, or IT support with a £5,000 grant

  • To enable our award holders to focus on their business idea, we offer a contribution to your living cost which is paid at an hourly rate matching the UK real living wage for 2 days (15 hours) per week throughout the duration of the award.

  • Tailored business support and mentorship, including advice on business planning, strategy, financial planning, media and communications, branding, growing your networks, access to additional funding, pitch training and more.

What are we looking for?

What are we looking for?

The aim of the Young Innovators Awards is to find the UK’s next generation of innovators – high-potential young people with great business ideas! We are looking for…

  • People with great ideas that can be commercialised
  • Ideas that address a problem and market need
  • Ideas that offer significantly better solutions to existing ones in that market
  • Ideas that are ready to be developed into a new business
  • People who can become relatable role models to inspire others
  • Evidence that you will benefit from the support package on offer

Previous winners

Young Innovators Awards 2021/22 Winners: Young people creating a better world

Since we started the Young Innovators Awards, we have helped over 250 inspiring Young Innovators develop business ideas. This appetite for innovation can also be seen in the unprecedented engagement with the Young Innovators Awards, which received 1,300 applications over the past two years. Additionally, over 12,000 young people have engaged with the #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign on social media.

Following a rigorous assessment process, 63 Young Innovators were awarded and form the 2021/22 cohort. From a washing machine that re-uses shower water to 3D printed knee replacements, these innovations look to tackle some of our biggest environmental and societal challenges.

Find out more about our previous cohorts here:

Cohort 1 (2018/19) | Cohort 2 (2020/21) 

Moving forward, we will continue to support and nurture young people. We look forward to engaging with the new cohort, the growing alumni network, and the wider community to inspire new generations of diverse innovators. Together, we will shape a future beyond limits.

Diversity & Inclusion in Innovation

Innovate UK is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing game-changing innovations, to build a better, more resilient economy and society.

The UK’s diverse population is a key asset for innovation. However, we know that whilst talent is evenly distributed across the UK, opportunity is not.

As such, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Young Innovators programme which forms an integral part of Innovate UK’s 2021-2025 Plan for Action for UK Business Innovation and its commitment to “increase the diversity of upcoming innovation talent and make innovation support more visible, accessible, and inclusive to all.”

We are encouraged that, of our 2021/22 Young Innovators award winners, 49% are female; nearly a third are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority background; 17% have a disability and the projects cover all regions across the UK.

#IdeasMeanBusiness Webinar Series

The #IdeasMeanBusiness webinar series has been designed to provide practical advice, expert knowledge, and tools for young people. Launched in August 2020 by Innovate UK KTN, partnering with UK Black Tech, Foundervine, UltraEducation, Like Minded Females, St John’s Innovation Centre, Nicholas Himowicz, Spencer Ayres, and CareerEar, the series has since been viewed by over 2,000 people. So far, it has explored topics ranging from marketing through to business plans, personal branding, intellectual property, and much more. 

Get Involved

The Young Innovators community Through our social media channels and newsletters we share useful resources for future innovators to gather inspiration and grow their business. Follow us and keep up to date with upcoming funding opportunities, events, and news.

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Related News

Young Innovators 20/21 Success Stories


Young Innovators 20/21 Success Stories

There are many different routes into innovation, and this is clearly illustrated in the stories of our award winners. Read the stories of our 2020/21 Young Innovators to find out how the Young Innovators programme helped them to navigate and accelerate their entrepreneurial journey.

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Young Innovators Awards 21/22 - Young Innovators look to change the world


Young Innovators Awards 21/22 - Young Innovators look to change the world

The winners of this year’s Young Innovators’ Awards, announced today by Innovate UK, look set to tackle some of our biggest societal challenges.

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Current Young Innovators funding opportunities

Innovate UK Smart Grants: July 2022

Opens: 28/07/2022 Closes: 26/10/2022

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy. This funding is from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

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Innovation Loans Future Economy Competition – Round 6

Opens: 20/09/2022 Closes: 09/11/2022

UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

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Women in Innovation Awards 2022/23

Opens: 22/08/2022 Closes: 19/10/2022

Women with exciting, innovative ideas who will inspire others can apply for an award which includes a £50,000 grant and bespoke business support.

More Information

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We are now proud to be supporting a vibrant Young Innovators community. Join the community today to stay in the know.