21.10.21 Funding Preparation

How to develop a grant fundable project

R&D grant funding is a competitive and often time consuming application process. To ensure a successful approach you need to have a defined project before commencing the bid writing process. By doing this, you’ll ensure the right grant fit for your project whilst keeping a consistent narrative and alignment to your wider company strategy, which will catch the attention of the assessors and improve the quality of the proposition. In this blog, our grant writing team has put together 5 key focus areas to help you develop a grant fundable project, think of it as a pre-bid sanity check!

Outcomes and objectives

For your project to be considered an investable, credible business opportunity worthy of funding, your outcomes and objectives need to be well defined. The first thing an assessor will be looking to establish is whether there is a clear and researched business opportunity, and a consistent link between the problem you are looking to solve and the solution you are proposing to address it.

Be sure to also include up to date market research to outline your strategy for market entry, including: What does the current market look like? Is it growing? How fast? What trends affect it? What is the competition? What are the barriers to entry?

Next, consider how you will generate commercial returns from your project. Include realistic outputs and how you’ll execute them, including your sales/service model and growth plans. If you cannot explain how your project will be commercialised you could be marked down.

Agile or Waterfall

Your project objectives and management approach should determine how the project will be executed. Typically, two types of project management methodology are used, Agile and/or Waterfall. Agile is an incremental, iterative approach that separates a project into sprints. Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach that divides a project into phases.

Both are acceptable, however projects typically need to present a GANTT chart or a similar visualisation. You must be confident that you can present your desired approach, linked to overall project objectives, in the format the funder requires.

Top tips for developing outcome and objectives:

  • Start with a well-defined plan to support your grant funding application.
  • Make your business opportunity crystal clear- What is your product or service need?
  • Complete your market research thoroughly.
  • Define your market opportunity and how you are going to generate revenue.
  • Beware the small percentage of a big market, this always gives a big commercial return! Instead validate your statements by ensuring your commercial resourcing and approaches fit with identified growth aims
Team and resources

A common misconception when it comes to the project team and resourcing is that all company staff need to be working on the project 100% of the time. You should instead align the skills and abilities of your team members with each area of your project to deliver the proposed outcomes. Assessors want to see that you are able to achieve the goals you’ve set out in an efficient manner.

Collaborating with partners can also add value to your project and instill further confidence in the success of your objectives. You can benefit from a wide range of skills, experiences, and practical tools that further enhance your project outcomes. Partners can provide a new or different perspective to your product, process, or solution and potentially offer more time to consider the problem and published literature.

The key to finding the right partner for your project is:

  • Take the time to examine and evaluate multiple opportunities.
  • Use your outcomes and objectives to be clear on the support you need. Is it help with the technology you’re looking for? Or with design? Or with exploitation?
  • Create a collaboration agreement that identifies who is responsible for what, how the intellectual property will be shared, how each collaborator benefits, and how they will be able to exploit the technology being developed.
  • Monitor your success.
Costs

Project costs and finances will be under scrutiny from assessors. They will seek evidence that your project can provide suitable value for money.

Your costs need to align with the size and complexity of your project. You can be marked down for costs considered too low as well as too high.

Different funds have different requirements and thresholds for funding amounts available and the proportion of costs that can be claimed. For example, Innovate UK typically defines its funding levels based on both project maturity (Feasibility Study, Industrial Research or Experimental Development) and organisation size (micro/small, medium and large).

As it is the defined project that is funded you need to work out the specific project costs required, rather than, for example, all costs that the organisation is incurring. A good example is staff salaries (through PAYE). A technical lead on the project may be costing the company £60k p/a but only spend half their time on the specific grant project. Their cost to the project would be £30k. However, a technician or developer may be involved in the project for 80% of their time, as it is the main project they are engaging with.

You must be careful that the anticipated costs are as realistic as possible as they will define your project. If successful you will have to provide a spend profile that takes the overarching costs and defines them by quarter and month.

Top tips for costs:

  • Work from the ground up, how much funding do you need to achieve the MVP of your ambitious idea, rather than “how do we create a project that is at the maximum of the funding allowed”
  • Ensure costs are appropriate but also not undersold
  • Check the eligibility and nuanced rules around costs (e.g. amortisation rules) to avoid falling foul of ineligible costs
Intellectual property

Make sure you clearly define how project outputs will be protected, ensuring that IP will not be lost, and therefore potential commercial returns greatly reduced or even eliminated entirely.

Top tips for IP:

  • Seek guidance from IP specialists
  • Explore all forms of IP protection, not just patents
  • Consider what project outputs would need to be protected to facilitate commercial exploitation
  • Review existing registered IP to ensure no infringements
Project Management

Once you’ve been notified of your project’s success, made it through the due diligence stage, and begun project activities, you will need to remain compliant with the funders reporting requirements.

During the project there are set reporting intervals, with required documentation and milestones such as:

  • Progress Reporting- Provision of an updated document set, GANTT chart, and progress report relating to the activities of the previous quarter.
  • Financial Reporting- Identification of incurred project costs to date and updated forecasts for the remainder of the project.
  • Independent Accountant’s Report (IAR)- Submission of an IAR to confirm project expenditure, aligning with costs in the financial report (an IAR is typically not required for every reporting period).
  • Project Change Request- Should you require a change in the project cost profile or the scope of work, a formal Project Change Request needs to be completed. This needs to be supported by a suitably updated document set.

Accurate reporting is critical to the cash flow of a grant funded project. Seeking the advice of a professional grant project manager will free up your time, and allow you to focus on delivering the project outcomes stated in your successful application.

Top tips for Project Management:

  • Set up your project correctly.
  • Take action on Project Change Requests.
  • Comply with reporting requirements.
  • Make a good impression with your Monitoring Officer.
  • Seek advice from a professional in grant project management if you feel overwhelmed by the reporting requirements.
Conclusion

Granted Consultancy has operated in the non-dilutive funding space for over 10 years. Over this time period, we have seen R&D grant funding scoring thresholds continue to increase and the quality of projects dramatically advance. To step up to the competition you need to have a robust project plan of your own creation, use our blog to guide you.

As grant writing professionals this is something we can advise on. We can take your project plan and make it a grant fundable application. We can manage the reporting of your successfully grant funded project. However, we do not have to deliver the project defined in your application, so the initial plan needs to come from you.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding project plans, securing grant funding, or managing your grant funded project, we are here to support you so get in touch.

Share:

Stay In The Loop

Subscribe to the Granted Ltd’s weekly newsletter and be the first to receive the latest and greatest in grant funding news, insights and resources.