Innovate UK funding and support

Small business research initiative (SBRI)


SBRI is a pre-commercial programme designed by Innovate UK to encourage private sector businesses to provide innovative solutions to public sector challenges.

Through the SBRI, government departments run competitions to seek solutions to specific issues. Competitions generally have different themes and opening dates and deadlines vary throughout the year.

Advantages of SBRI

SBRI can provide your business with:

  • a route to market for new ideas and technologies and a chance to work with a lead customer to help validate and refine the idea
  • finance that bridges the seed funding gap through 100 per cent funded research and development contracts with no loss of equity
  • a simple way of engaging with the public sector and a step on the procurement ladder
  • a way to create and retain intellectual property that will be commercialised to deliver business growth

SBRI eligibility criteria

You can apply for an SBRI contract if you are a business. The scheme is particularly beneficial for early-stage and small and medium-sized businesses. Pre-startups may apply, however the contracts can only be awarded to legal entities.

Initial funding of between £50,000 and £100,000 is available to help you test your idea and see if it will work. You can then win a further contract worth up to £1 million or more to develop and commercialise this idea.

How to apply for an SBRI contract

If you run a small business and need that all important first customer to help you develop and trial your innovative new product, then SBRI might be for you. SBRI gives start-ups and small companies sufficient funding to make a real difference, increasing chances of success and accelerating sales growth. Speak to Invest NI on Tel 0800 181 4422 about how you can get involved.

See the latest SBRI competitions or watch case studies below of local Northern Ireland businesses sharing their experience with SBRI.