21.10.21 Funding Preparation

How to Tackle Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Awards Competition

Are you an ambitious young innovator looking for funding? Innovate UK’s Young Innovators Awards competition is aimed at young people aged 18-30. UK-based residents can apply for an award to make their business idea a reality, which includes a grant for £5000, a living allowance, and tailored business support.

As a young innovator, this may be the first time you have considered applying for a grant. Through this blog, we’ll provide some tips and tricks on how to maximise the likelihood of success.

Step 1 – Innovation Funding Service Registration

Firstly, before you can apply to the competition, you will need to register with the Innovation Funding Service Portal, which is the platform used by Innovate UK to enable applicants to apply for innovation competitions launched throughout the year by Innovate UK, such as Smart Grants.

Once registered, you’ll need to navigate to Innovate UK’s competition page, find the Young Innovators Awards competition and click on ‘Start new application’.

Step 2 – Portal Familiarisation

At this point, familiarise yourself with the application portal, specifically the formats required for responses. The application portal is very strict in terms of how you provide your response, for example, there are word count restrictions and you are unable to include graphics within your answers.

Step  3 – Draft proposal

The application comprises of a number of sections, with Innovate UK helpfully providing guidance on what is required in the response for each question. You need to make sure that your responses cover these requirements.

Project Details- This section covers aspects such as the application team, application details, and the equality, diversity, and inclusion survey.
Crucially, this section also includes the project summary, allowing up to 150 words that give the assessors a useful introduction to the project. This is the first opportunity you have as an applicant to articulate and convince assessors of your game-changing innovation, so make it impactful.

Questions 1 to 13- Collate basic information about the applicant such as your age and your right to work in the UK. The majority of these questions are tick boxes and should be relatively easy for applicants to complete.

Questions 14 to 17- Explain your innovation’s value proposition, impact, game plan, and risks. Your responses to these questions will be assessed and will determine the outcome of your application. Therefore, you should concentrate the majority of your proposal development time on producing these responses.

When responding, try to:

  • Use headings to help assessors navigate your response
  • When using acronyms, use the longer name or phase the first time that the acronym is used
  • Back up any claims you make with referenced proof e.g. the Harvard referencing style
  • Avoid weblinks to external sources as assessors are not allowed to access these
  • Ask colleagues, friends, and family to review your responses- a fresh pair of eyes can help to check that your response is clear and identify any obvious mistakes such as spelling or grammar errors

Question 17 (Risks)- is the only response that allows applicants to optionally provide a 2-page appendix. Whilst the appendix is a separate document containing supplementary material and is considered ‘optional’ by Innovate UK, in reality, you must provide a comprehensive risk register in the appendix or you will be scored down by the assessors.

Step 4 – Create a video

Question 18 (Video) – You must develop a video that covers the 11 bullet points requested by Innovate UK.
This is your opportunity to sell yourself by sharing your passion and bringing your innovation to life. It is also the only opportunity to share images and graphics of your proposed innovation, giving assessors greater confidence in the work you have achieved so far.
Please remember that assessors will only watch the first 3 minutes of your video.

Step 5 – Detail project costs

Finances – This follows Innovate UK’s typical format with many different cost categories, but for this competition the guidance states ‘you must only enter £5,000 under labour costs’.

Step 6 – Accept T&Cs

Innovate UK Terms and conditions – The applicant should read and accept Innovate UK’s T&Cs.

Step 7 – Submit your application

Once you have completed your application, you need to press the ‘Review and submit’ button to ensure it is submitted.

Step 8 – Keep your fingers crossed

Once submitted, applications will be assessed by a panel of assessors based on the information you provided, with applicants notified of the outcome by email and via the application portal.

In the unfortunate event that your application is unsuccessful, Innovate UK helpfully provides feedback for questions 14 to 17, allowing you to understand their areas of concern. Using this information, you can refine your proposal and resubmit it in the next round of the competition.

Good Luck!

Finally, we would like to wish all applicants the very best of luck with their applications, which will hopefully be the beginning of a number of successful grant applications both to Innovate UK and other research and development funders. If you would like any further information or support get in touch.

Written by, Senior Grant Consultant David Wright.


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