21.10.21 Funding Requirements

Innovate UK Eligibility Requirements- How to identify project to competition match

Every funding competition has eligibility requirements to make sure the funder receives value for money and that the project they are investing in will be a success. Reading through the full eligibility, scope and guidance is imperative, but sometimes it can be hard to navigate through the jargon to identify what the funder actually wants.

This blog will help you to get a better understanding of eligibility by focusing on three key requirements.


Every funding competition will have important scope details that need to be met for your project to be classed as eligible. A good way to know if your project matches the scope of the competition is to look at examples of what the funder is NOT willing to fund as part of the project. You could have the most innovative project in your sector but if it doesn’t meet the scope your application won’t even pass through to assessment.

Example: Innovate UK SMART Grants

*We will not fund proposals that do not:

  • meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
  • evidence the potential for their idea or concept to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business

Example: SBRI competition – Modernising Energy Data Applications phase 1

*We will not fund projects:

  • that do not explain how they will build upon the Modernising Energy Data Access (MEDA) solutions
  • that do not combine energy sector data with data sources from at least one other sector
  • that have not identified a lead customer and explained how they will be engaged as a key stakeholder during project development
    for commercial development activities such as quantity production

Example: Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst 2020: round 1, early and late-stage awards

*We will not fund projects that we consider to be at too early a stage, for example:

  • basic research
  • generation of pure scientific and technological knowledge
  • development of research ideas, hypotheses and experimental designs that have no practical commercial application

We will not fund projects that are too close to market or are already in market, such as:

  • evaluations to inform labelling
  • laboratory accreditation
  • distribution or marketing activity
  • post-marketing studies
  • post-marketing surveillance

Project requirements

Applying for grant funding is a big commitment and is an activity that should be considered when planning business growth strategies so you can identify whether your business/project is ready for the challenge.

The three elements below make up the core project requirements that you will need to consider:

1. Project start date

Will my company/project have all the right resources in place to be able to start on this specific date?

2. Project duration

Can I commit to the amount of work that needs to be done within this set timescale?

3. Total project budget

Can I achieve project outcomes within this budget?

Eligible project costs

The funding rates you can receive will depend on the size and type of your organisation and your role in the project. Organisations typically fall into three categories:

  • businesses
  • research organisations
  • public sector organisations or charities undertaking research activity

Project costs that are classed as eligible for a typical Innovate UK projects include:

  • Labour costs
  • Overheads
  • Materials costs
  • Capital usage
  • Subcontractor costs
  • Travel and subsistence costs
  • Other costs- Workshop/lab usage charge outs, training costs, preparation of technical reports, market assessment, licensing in new technologies and patent filing costs of new IP

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “If the fund is £500k should I apply for the maximum amount?”.

The answer is to work from the ground up, build costs based on the work plan that achieves the project outputs, and consider how much you need to achieve your ambitious project in its best form. If this is close to the maximum amount then that’s okay, but by working from the ground up you will have developed a justification for the work plan and the associated funding you are asking for. Also, ensure you don’t ask for too little, it needs to be commercially competitive but also realistic when viewed next to the proposed work plan.

Do your eligibility research

You may be thinking ” If I employ a consultancy to write my application for me I don’t need to know any of the above”.

However, from our experience of working with hundreds of clients, those that have done the background research and have looked at how the funders communicate their requirements feel more confident when working with us throughout the application process, as well as when they have been successful and are working through the project.

It is true that applying for R&D grant funding can be daunting and there is no guarantee of success, but carrying out the background research on eligibility ensures your project fits the competition, which ultimately maximises your chances of success.

If you have seen a funding competition that you’re interested in applying for but would like more clarification on whether your project is eligible, our team would be happy to help, so get in touch.

*Information sourced from the Innovate UK funding competition website.


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