Talking about summer reminds most of us of sunny beaches and relaxing holidays, but for SMEs this could be also the perfect time to seize new and exciting funding opportunities, as over £80m in funding is made available by Innovate UK to support innovation and growth, and we have divided them in to what we like to call the 7 Wonders of the SMEs’ Summer.

Starting with the Open grant funding competition: Round 2 , Innovate UK will make available up to £20 million to the best cutting-edge or disruptive ideas or concepts with a view to commercialisation. The competition will be open from the 12th of July and we do really suggest you to keep an eye on this, as up to 70% funding is available to applications from any area: from technology, science or engineering, to arts, design, media or even creative industries.

More focused schemes are also available to those who have innovative ideas to reduce the waste of plastics or to design and implement smart local energy systems. The Plastic innovation: towards zero waste competitions scheme opened last June 18th, and will make available up to £4million funding to support innovative activities – e.g. developing new polymers, processes, designs, recycling regimes, etc. – that result in less persistent plastic waste in our environment. On the other hand, the Smart local energy systems: concepts and designs is directed to revolutionary concept and design studies for new, smarter approaches to local energy; these approaches must aim to provide cleaner, cheaper energy services for UK consumers in the 2020s while helping make communities more prosperous and resilient. The scheme opened on May 8th and will fund projects between £100,000 and £200,000 for a total worth of £1.5 million.

SMEs operating in the manufacturing area will have also the chance to compete in the Manufacturing readiness and scale up of genomic analysis technologies; a competition which will allocate up to £5 million in projects that aim to increase the UK commercial capacity to manufacture real time or rapid genomic analysis equipment such as high throughput nucleic acid sequencing. The competition is open since 18th June and will remain open until 11th July .

The fourth competition launched, on Monday 4th June, addresses all UK businesses and RTOs who want to implement ground breaking ideas for a Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) testing infrastructure for autonomous parking and autonomous driving on rural roads and highways. The name of the competition is Meridian 3: autonomous highway, rural and parking test facilities and within this programme, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will invest up to £25 million in partnership with Meridian Mobility and Innovate UK, to support up to 6 projects aimed to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem. otal project costs must be between £1 million and £20 million.

The last two “Wonders” are not specifically industry-related, yet they are a great opportunity for all those companies who work with IT systems, AI and data management. As part of the Next Generation Services Challenge, Innovate UK launched on 18th June an initiative called Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (small projects strand) to invest up to £12 million in innovation projects to support the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and data technologies. Funded projects should be up to £400,000 and should aim to transform, in up to 2 years, fields such as: Accountancy; Insurance and Legal services. Finally, Innovate UK has something in store even for those companies who are working to improve the defence and security of the UK. The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) Open Call for Innovation will remain open until March 2019 and it is looking for innovations that address defence or security challenges in two specific strands: Emerging Innovations and Rapid Impact Innovation.