£15 million of funding for R&D projects

There is a significant opportunity right now for local companies to access up to £15m for R&D projects from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

This funding is designed to help businesses develop new products, processes and services with commercial potential. The aim is to enhance the competitiveness of businesses to sell globally.

Innovate UK are operating a new simplified sequence of competitions within four key sectors. They offer two broad competitions in each sector per year, plus two "open" competitions for applications from any sectors.

The four key sectors are:

  • emerging and enabling technologies
  • health and life sciences (including agriculture)
  • infrastructure systems
  • manufacturing and materials

Innovate UK will fund innovative projects that are led by a business and involve at least one SME. Projects led by an SME will be particularly welcomed. Businesses must be based in and carry out projects in the UK and can work individually or collaboratively with other businesses or research organisations.

The Application Process

The R&D team at Invest Northern Ireland can help you make an application.

It is a competitive process and you can find out more on this by watching presentations from the recent seminar held in Belfast which was promoting the Infrastructure systems competition.

Our Top Tips brochure provides a good guide on applying and you will also find advice on applying by watching the following video. 

Businesses are more likely to succeed if they demonstrate disruptive, cutting-edge innovations and clear ambition and potential for growth. Priority will be given to proposals that are likely to lead to sustainable gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export led business growth.

Watch our video of three speakers from Innovate UK and KTN who attended the recent Belfast seminar describing the process here.


Projects are expected to last between 3 months and 3 years and range in total costs between £25,000 and £5 million. There are 2 streams, dependent on on the size and length of the project.

  • Stream 1 - Projects with eligible costs of up to £100,000 and 12 months or less in duration. Total funding available £5 million.
  • Stream 2 - Projects with eligible costs of up to £1 million and between 12 and 36 months in duration. Total funding available £10 million.

UK SMEs can run small projects up to £100,000 on their own or collaborate with others if required. All projects with costs exceeding £100,000 must be collaborative and must include at least one SME.

Projects may focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development, depending on the challenge identified. The focus of your project activity will determine the grant rate you could receive.

View the success stories featuring business that have received support and funding from Innovate UK. 

If you need further information you can contact us at 0800 181 4422.