Be ambitious in your R&D

Substantial benefits await companies that are prepared to think big, collaborate and get involved in national and international R&D programmes.

If R&D is part of your ongoing business activity you know the benefits it brings. Maybe you’ve already used our Grant for R&D to support a research project.

Think what you could achieve by stepping up to the next level and collaborating on an R&D project that could have a global impact. The opportunity is there, and the funding is there. We can help you get a slice of it.

Innovation and R&D Escalator Workshop

At today’s Innovation and R&D Escalator Workshop, organised by Invest NI, over 100 local companies found out how to go about applying for Innovate UK funding.

Every year Innovate UK runs competitions that award in excess of £400 million to help businesses with R&D. Competitions are designed to address unmet needs in a specific area, or a challenge faced by society. The competitions are themed; for example, energy, biosciences, food supply chains, agri-tech, technology, flexible manufacturing. Find out about the competitions that are currently open.


The half-day workshop featured Nick Bassett and Bruce Colley from Innovate UK who explained how the funding works and what kind of projects are eligible.

There was advice on filling in the application form and a presentation from an assessor on how the applications are judged.

Read the top 20 tips for securing Innovate UK funding. (PDF)

Sample application workshop

Part of the event included a dummy application workshop which was designed to provide further insight to the application process.

The project depicted in the application is completely fictional and has no bearing to any real of live project.

When applications are scored they would generally fall into three areas which are highlighted below:

  • All Assessors consistently provide high scores across all questions – if an application is in this area then it should be put through for funding.
  • All Assessors consistently provide low scores across all questions – if an application is in this area then it will be declined for funding.
  • Assessors provide a wide variance of scores – if an application is in this area then it will be submitted to a super panel to be discussed and any variances need to be addressed and a final score is agreed, depending on the consensus of the panel the application is either put forward for funding or declined.

Download sample application guidance notes. (PDF)
Download a sample application form. (PDF)
Download a sample scorecard/feedback form. (PDF)

Guest speaker presentations

Download guest speaker presentations for the Innovation and R&D Escalator Workshop from the SlideShare website.

What kind of companies apply for Innovate UK funding?

Any company, from any sector that has a good background in R&D and a great idea for a new product or service should consider applying for Innovate UK funding.


The funding isn’t aimed at big companies. In fact there is a standing ‘always open’ competition, SMART, specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.

The biggest opportunities involve joining forces with other forward-thinking UK companies to undertake collaborative R&D.

You can apply for funding if you want to do one or more of the following:

  • Carry out a feasibility study to test your idea and make sure it will work.
  • Create a new product or service, or improve an existing one, through research and development.
  • Work with other businesses or research organisations on collaborative projects.

Horizons tool

What is influencing your future market? Horizons is a practical tool that helps you to work out just that. It defines the environmental limits and social conditions necessary for a sustainable economy. Use it to develop and test your strategy, inform commercial decisions, and drive new innovation.

If you missed today’s workshop and want to find out more about Innovate UK competitions or other R&D support, contact us on 0800 181 4422.