With the confirmation that the Conservative party membership will be mulling over a choice between Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss as its next leader, and therefore UK Prime Minister, we offer our predictions for what this transition potentially signals for the UK grant funding landscape.
It’s very likely that the forthcoming change in party leadership will lead to a short-term postponement of some key funding announcements, principally due to the need for ministerial sign-off. Following the pattern of previous leadership transitions, this is likely to be followed by a surge of new funding opportunities being announced in late Autumn as the new leader looks to make their mark and appoints ministers to key positions.
This is positive news if you are looking for innovation funding towards the end of the year and beyond, particularly if you’ve invested time in developing your non-dilutive funding strategy in advance of funding announcements. Innovators should particularly keep their eyes peeled for Innovate UK’s forthcoming Delivery Plan which will provide a clearer understanding of this key agency’s funding priorities and plans, building on its recent Plan for Action.
Regardless of the leadership change, we will almost certainly see a continuation of efforts to stimulate UK investment in R&D, particularly through business innovation & scaling commercialisation of UK science. This has been reflected in recent announcements to confirm budget allocations and key staffing appointments at UKRI and ARIA (Advanced Research and Innovation Agency) as well as a string of high-profile funding opportunities launched by the UK Government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
We anticipate that the UK Government will continue to commit to its target of raising UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP over the next three years as laid out in its UK Research and Development Roadmap and confirmed in its latest Spending Review. Total BEIS funding over this three-year period is £41 billion of which £25 billion is allocated to UKRI. 
Overall, we remain extremely positive about the grant funding opportunities available for UK innovators to support their research and development projects.
BEIS has currently allocated £6.8 billion over the period to European R&D programmes including Horizon Europe, including £1.2 billion that was carried over from the 2021/22 budget to 2022/23. As things stand today, UK innovators can continue to access Horizon Europe funding, including the flagship EIC Accelerator programme, and continue to be encouraged to do so by UK funding agencies, underpinned by an explicit funding guarantee from the UK Government.
However, there continues to be uncertainty regarding the UK’s long-term association with Horizon Europe and the new Conservative leader may well make their mark by making a more dramatic break, potentially triggered via unilateral withdrawal from the Northern Ireland Protocol.
If this does occur then we anticipate that new UK-specific research funding opportunities, potentially including bi-lateral or similar arrangements, will rapidly be put in force: BEIS has stated that if the UK is unable to associate with Horizon Europe this funding will be reallocated to “UK government R&D programmes, including those to support new international partnerships” with further information to follow “in due course”. 
In an ideal world, we would expect that this would lead to greater opportunities for joined-up thinking within and between key UK Government funders, as evidenced by the British Business Bank’s recently released report on the catalytic effect of its investments when coupled with Innovate UK funding.
See the Government’s latest announcement here
Whilst leadership transitions at 10 Downing Street always brings the prospect of radical change, we remain broadly positive concerning the outlook for UK innovation funding. Key R&D investment focus areas remain likely to be energy, clean-tech and health technology, reflecting current political priorities. Yes, there may be a slight delay in the release of new opportunities around the time of the leader changeover, but we predict this will be followed up with a flurry of exciting new opportunities to fund your innovation.
To make the most of this intervening period we’d strongly recommend investing time and attention in your innovation roadmap, allowing you to respond rapidly and decisively once funding is launched.
Keeping an eye on the grant funding landscape will help you to make informed decisions on what opportunities are the best match for your innovation, this is why we have become experts in understanding the landscape to better match your project to worthwhile grant funding opportunities. Observing the landscape is a time-consuming process so take advantage of our expertise and sign up for our mailing list, view our website, follow us on social media or get in touch to be alerted to new opportunities and market intelligence on the grant funding landscape.
 BEIS, BEIS research and development (R&D): partner organisation allocation 2022/2023 to 2024/2025, 14 March 2022; [accessed 3 May 2022].
 BEIS research and development (R&D): partner organisation allocation 2022/2023 to 2024/2025 14 March 2022, footnote 9; [accessed 3 May 2022].
 BEIS research and development (R&D): partner organisation allocation 2022/2023 to 2024/2025, 14 March 2022, footnote 9; [accessed 3 May 2022].