Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – a fund to strengthen UK science and business innovation


You might have heard about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) over the last few months, but sometimes the acronyms all sound the same and it’s hard to know what, if anything, this really means for Northern Ireland businesses.

At its heart the ISCF provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers to invest in research and development and take on the biggest challenges that society and industries face today. This is the largest investment by UK Government in R&D over the last 40 years and is part of their commitment to increase productivity and grow the UK economy. The fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation, which came into being in April 2018. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.

What’s the opportunity for Northern Ireland businesses?

Over £1.75bn has been allocated to the ISCF programme so far, across 14 different challenges until 2021.

Over £1.75bn has been allocated to the ISCF programme so far, across 14 different challenges until 2021. The challenges are being rolled out in Waves – Wave 1 launched in April 2017, Wave 2 launched in April 2018 and a call for proposals for Wave 3 has recently closed. Challenges range from transforming food production to medicines manufacturing and are focused on areas where a global market opportunity has been identified along with corresponding UK research excellence and business capability.

Northern Ireland has expertise in many of the challenge areas and briefing events have been taking place over the last few months to prepare businesses for these opportunities. View details on all the challenges

Industrial Strategy challenge blog Infographic

How can businesses access the funding ?

Funding through the ISCF is competitive and regular calls are being launched for each of the challenges, which are open for businesses from across the UK to apply. Applications are completed online through the UK Innovation Funding Service and whilst it is competitive, the funding available is significant and has the potential to make a huge difference to the NI economy on top of the funding and support already available to NI businesses from Invest Northern Ireland.


There’s never been a better time for businesses to invest in research and innovation. Find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and get further information about Innovate UK