Your idea must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.
Your proposal must demonstrate:
- a clearly expressed and compelling innovative idea
- a robust and deliverable business plan that addresses and shows evidence of market potential and needs
- a team with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time, and take the outputs forward
- awareness of all the main risks the project and business will face, with realistic plans to manage, mitigate and minimise the impact of each of these
- sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money and the ability to repay the loan
- why you are unable to fund the project from your own resources or other forms of public or private sector funding
- a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
Your project can include:
These can be in environments that represent real-life operating conditions.
Innovate UK are also particularly interested in receiving applications from diverse businesses involving communities that are typically under-represented. This includes regions outside the ‘Golden Triangle’ (London, Oxford and Cambridge) or with, for example, female, ethnic minority and diverse ability founders.
Your application will be evaluated on:
- the quality of your project proposal
- the suitability of your business to take on a loan
Innovate UK will decline applications for loans for businesses which:
- they consider unable to afford the interest and repayments on the loan
- have not demonstrated that they are unable to obtain finance from other sources on suitable terms
Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes or sub-themes:
- impact of industrial processes and use of materials
- agriculture and food and other sources of emissions
- capital intensity
Health and wellbeing
- tackling ill health
- enhancing wellbeing
- diet and food
Next generation digital technologies
- advanced materials and manufacturing
- artificial intelligence digital and advanced computing
- bioinformatics and genomics
- engineering biology
- electronics, photonics and quantum technologies
- energy and environment technologies
- robotics and smart machines
You can apply for a loan of between £100,000 and £2 million to fund your project’s eligible costs.
Projects can last up to 5 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by 31 March 2024. Your exact project start date and first innovation loan drawdown will depend on the timing of the final credit committee decision and completion of loan documentation.
To receive an innovation loan for a new project you must:
- be a UK-registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- carry out your project from or in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
- give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan
Innovation loans will be:
- Available for up to 3 years when the project is underway, but the exploitation has not yet started (the ‘availability period’). You can borrow in stages (‘drawdowns’) during this period and will pay interest at 3.7% per annum on anything you borrow, with additional interest at 3.7% accrued and deferred until the repayment period.
- Extended until the first commercial sales from the results of the project, up to a maximum of 2 further years (the ‘extension period’) after the end of the availability period. You will not be able to make further drawdowns during this period. You will not have to make repayments, but you will pay interest on the amount you have borrowed at 3.7% per annum, with additional interest at 3.7% accrued and deferred until the repayment period.
- Repayable over a maximum of 5 years (the ‘repayment period’) after the availability and extension periods. You will have to repay anything you have borrowed, including interest accrued and deferred from the availability and extension periods, on a quarterly schedule. You will pay interest at 7.4% per annum on the outstanding loan amount.