The latest round of Innovate UK’s open grant funding programme launched last month. It has £25 million available to invest in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. Smart grant applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy.

However, applying for grant funding is complex, time-consuming, stressful, and highly competitive. While there is no magic formulae to winning grants, we’ve found that the following self-assessment process can increase your chances of success:

1. Idea

Before you begin writing your Smart Grant application, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of exactly what it is you want to do. You should identify your aims and objectives and the tasks you need to undertake to achieve these. Clarity is key to writing a successful application – Innovate UK use the word “clear” three times in the competition scope alone!

2. Funding

The next step requires you to read and understand exactly what the funding call is looking to fund. By doing this, you can ensure your project fits within its scope. Remember, square pegs do not fit round holes!

It is important to note that Innovate UK 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.

You can find the full scope for this competition here.

3. Capacity

Do you have the in-house skills to achieve what you are setting out to do? It is important that you are honest with yourself here. If you don’t have the in-house skills to convince Innovate UK of your capability to complete the project, it is unlikely that they will award you any funding. In this case, you may wish to consider working with a collaborative partner.

4. Track record

Are you able to convince the evaluators that you can deliver the project? Innovate UK requires proposals to demonstrate “a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time.” If you do not have the necessary skills and experience to do this, we would again recommend teaming up with a more experienced partner.

5. Partners

Lastly, applicants should consider whether they need project partners. For this competition, projects with durations between 6 and 18 months can be single or collaborative, while projects lasting between 19 and 36 months must be collaborative. If you answered ‘no’ to points 3 or 4, you will likely need the support of a project partner to secure an Innovate UK Smart Grant, regardless of project length. Through our extensive global network, RedKnight can help you in the search for a suitable project partner with the expertise and resources to complement your own.

These 5 steps will help to ensure that the funding you bid for is right for your organisation, thereby helping you to put forward the most competitive proposal possible.

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