Innovate UK funding and support

Categories of R&D supported by Innovate UK


Innovate UK funds different categories of research and development (R&D) activities to support a wide range of sectors. These categories are:

  • fundamental research
  • feasibility studies
  • industrial research
  • experimental development

Grant funding will typically focus on a particular part of the new product, process or service development. However, it's not always easy to decide which category to position the project in. Different funding rules may also apply for different categories.

Fundamental research

This is research that focuses on generating new knowledge. It does not necessarily have a direct practical application or usage. It is typically undertaken by research organisations.

Feasibility studies

This involves assessing a project's potential to support decision-making for development. They may focus on uncovering the project's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and identifying the resources needed and the likelihood of success. Such studies can help you decide if you can work independently or would need to collaborate with others. They often lead to a subsequent larger project.

Industrial research

This type of research typically involves the development of new knowledge or skills for the purpose of product development, processes or services. For example, the creation of component parts to complex systems or prototypes in a laboratory or simulated environment.

Experimental development

This involves using existing scientific, technical or business knowledge to develop new or improved products, processes, or services. It can include activities such as conceptual definition, planning and documentation, prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services.

Choosing the right category for your project

When applying for grant funding, the responsibility for choosing the right category lies with the applicant. The competition scope will specify the category of R&D activity for that particular funding opportunity. The category you should reflect the majority of your work. If your work is evenly split across categories, email

Read more about how Innovate UK funding works and how to apply for Innovate UK funding.