From 26th April, SMEs can apply for innovation loans from Innovate UK. These loans are for highly innovative, late-stage projects with strong commercial potential. Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy.

Innovate UK’s pilot programme of innovation loans started in 2017. Through seven competitions so far, the programme has provided £80 million to over 100 successful applicants! In addition, Innovate UK approved £77 million in innovation continuity loans to nearly 100 SMEs as part of the UK Government’s coronavirus response package.


Innovation loans of between £250,000 and £1.6 million are available for experimental development projects. They can last up to 4 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases, and should start by September 2021.

To take on an innovation loan for a project, you must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be a UK registered SME
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan

Please note that individuals, academic institutions, research organisations and large companies are ineligible for innovation loans.


The competition aims to help SMEs make their innovations a successful, commercial reality. Innovate UK will evaluate your application on two grounds: firstly, the quality of your project proposal and secondly, the suitability of your business to receive a loan. Therefore, your proposal must demonstrate:

  • an appropriate and evidenced loan request
  • a clear route to commercial success with potential to make a significant and positive impact on the UK economy and productivity
  • realistic, significant potential for global markets
  • a strong management team
  • why you are unable to fund the project from your own resources or other forms of public or private-sector funding

This competition is open from 26th April until 2nd June. If you have any further questions or would like support with your application, please get in touch.

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