Work with UK universities and colleges

Research councils and government help

There are seven research councils in the UK. Their role is to fund academic research and training in areas of importance to business, the public sector and government. They aim to help make the UK more competitive, create more effective public services and policy, and to improve quality of life.

Each research council has its own procedure for awarding research and development (R&D) grants. While most funding supports specific research projects based in universities, research councils also aim to promote knowledge transfer between businesses and universities and to turn academic or business ideas into commercial processes and products.

The research councils which may be able to help your business are:

Innovate UK, previously known as the Technology Strategy Board, also has a leading role in promoting knowledge transfer to increase technology-led innovation, through a number of national schemes. See the pages in this guide on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer Networks. Also, see our guide on the Innovate UK.

If you run a business in Northern Ireland, you can find information on R&D support on the Invest Northern Ireland website.


SBRI provides funding for innovative products that could help address a specific problem a government department or public sector organisation wants to solve.

Successful applicants receive a development contract for the full cost of demonstrating the feasibility of their technology and the opportunity for subsequent funding for prototype development, whilst retaining the intellectual property.

See the page on SBRI in our guide on Innovate UK

Microtechnology and nanotechnology centres

Innovate UK part funds a network of facilities that provide a broad range of services in micro and nanotechnologies.

Read information about micro and nanotechnology facilities on the Innovate UK website.