Innovation, research and development grants

Raising finance for innovation


Developing new products and services isn't cheap. There is, of course, an option to seek:

However, public funds are often limited, each have their own eligibility criteria and the competition for awards can be fierce.

Applying for R&D grants

Applying for an R&D grant usually involves completing application forms and demonstrating how you satisfy the funding conditions and requirements. An effective application is essential if you are to maximise your chances of obtaining a grant. You should closely follow any guidelines given with the application to maximise your chances of success. It's important to recognise that, while you may fulfil the eligibility criteria for a grant, it is a highly competitive environment and your application may not be successful. If you haven't been able to win grants for undertaking R&D and innovation in your business, or raise the finance you need, here are some alternative options.

Contracted initiatives

Under the small business research initiative (SBRI), led by Innovate UK, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be contracted for work that addresses specific research challenges identified by various government departments. Read more about the SBRI.

Industry-specific grants

Support may be available for low carbon innovation and R&D projects through the Carbon Trust. Read about the Carbon Trust's innovation support.

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) supports small number of projects for innovative products, services or techniques. They offer support through grant funding, direct investment or challenge prizes. Read about NESTA's support mechanisms.

It's a good idea to choose the potential fund carefully in line with your requirements. See more on grants: the basics.

Venture capital and other equity funding

You may be able to find a local partner and establish a joint venture or approach a business angel. These are individuals or groups of individuals who are willing to invest their own capital into private businesses, in exchange for a minority equity stake. They usually look for businesses that show strong growth potential. For more information, see more on equity finance.

Business awards and competitions

Awards and competitions can prove a useful source of cash for innovative businesses. They also offer a platform to showcase your business to potential investors and industry specialists. You may be eligible for funding assistance if you are starting a social enterprise. Find more funding opportunities via GOV.UK's Business Finance Support Finder tool.