31.01.22 Funding Preparation

How are successful Innovate UK grant applications selected for funding?

The question that everyone seeking grant funding wants the answer to is, how does Innovate UK choose winning grant applications? In this blog, we’ll be covering just that, as well as providing the top tips to keep in mind when developing a grant application. 

Innovate UK is the best known national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. In 2018, Innovate UK merged with the UK’s Research Councils to become part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Innovative organisations can apply for grant funding for the development of projects that match Innovate UK’s funding competitions. 

The three-point process

Applications are scored by a pool of independent assessors. These assessors are selected by Innovate UK and their knowledge aligns with the sectoral focus of your proposed project. After your independent assessor has scored the application, Innovate UK completes a three-step sequence. This guarantees the marking and assessment of applications are fair and that the best projects have been chosen.

  1. First, Innovate UK searches for any outliers in the scoring. If there are any outlying scores that feel unjustified and are without supporting comments, the scoring is modified.
  2. Secondly, Innovate UK will analyse the assessors’ responses to the final recommendation questions. These determine whether an application is in scope. An application must win a majority vote from the assessors’ to be taken into consideration. 
  3. Thirdly, the minimum quality threshold is checked to ensure only the most cutting-edge and innovative responses are considered. A high-quality project needs to have a quality threshold of above 70%. 

Top tip: Consider how well your application communicates that your project is within scope. A project that closely adheres to the scope whilst demonstrating the greatest innovation and commercial potential is more likely to win. 

Approaches to allocating funds

Once the three-point process is complete, the applications are ranked in a list with the top-scoring application first. This is known as the panel sheet. Innovate UK utilises a combination of two approaches when it comes to allocating funding from the panel sheet:

  1. A top-down approach: funds are allocated from the top of the panel sheet to the bottom. This is done until the funding pot has been depleted and the budget spent. 
  2. The portfolio approach: applications are selected based on a specific spend profile for the competition.

To conclude this step of the process, the final list is sent to Innovate UK’s funder panel who review the selection in line with the competition scope. 

Top tip: Regardless of which approach is taken, the assistance of an experienced grant writer can hugely improve your chances of submitting a winning grant application. Our team of grant writers have a long history of crafting high-scoring applications that successfully secure funding for our clients- over £100m to be precise!

Feedback, appeals, and the two-stage application process

At the final phase of the selection, the chosen applicants are approved and notified of the success of their submission. Feedback is provided with your application results to validate and explain the nature of your success or failure. Some feedback may be conflicting due to multiple assessors marking your application with potentially varied opinions and no collaboration. 

You cannot appeal against the feedback that assessors provide. Both Innovate UK and the assessors are unable to enter into any communications regarding feedback that may be deemed unsatisfactory. 

More and more competitions are adopting a two-stage application process. This means that your approval for funding is also assessed through a second written application or an interview panel.  Some competitions may even follow a non-standard assessment approach. Each competition brief will provide full details on what you can expect from the non-standard assessment approach being used. 

Top tip: Should your application be unsuccessful this time around, you can resubmit the same project once. Using feedback from assessors can help to refine and polish your application before submitting it a second time. Be sure to provide your grant writer with any feedback to optimise your next submission. 

We can tackle the challenges of grant applications…

Now you understand the application marking process and have been made aware of the potential pitfalls, it’s down to you to decide how to prepare, craft, and submit the necessary documentation. Granted Consultancy’s team of innovation funding experts can manage the entire grant application process, from finding the right fund to writing a winning application and submitting it through the Innovate UK portal. 

If you’re looking to apply the tips provided in this blog to secure funding but you aren’t sure how to execute them, fill out an enquiry form for support.

You can watch the Innovate UK video that provided the information for this blog HERE. 


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