Innovate UK


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. For example, could you look into ways of reducing the weight that soldiers have to carry or could you create new energy-efficient technologies?

There is an SBRI team in Northern Ireland to coordinate the programme which is made up by representatives from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Invest Northern Ireland (NI) and the Central Procurement Directorate.

You can contact a member of the Northern Ireland SBRI team through Invest NI’s Boosting Business helpline on Tel 0800 181 4422.

Advantages of SBRI

The advantages of SBRI for the private sector include:

  • A route to market – working with a lead customer to help validate and refine the idea and provide a route to market for new ideas and technologies.
  • 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.

The SBRI process

You can find details of SBRI government competitions on the Innovate UK website.

Once applications have been processed, the most interesting ideas are selected. There are then two main phases.

Phase 1 - demonstration of scientific, technical and commercial feasibility. This lasts six months and is worth about £50,000-£100,000. Projects are then assessed for Phase 2 funding. Not all projects will go through to the second phase.

Phase 2 - prototype development. This lasts about two years and is worth £250,000-£1 million. Businesses can then commercialise their product and offer it to government departments and others under normal procurement processes. See our guide for an overview on selling to government.

You can find case studies about previous competitions on the Innovate UK website.