About EDI

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. It is enshrined in law through the Equality Act 2010, which makes it illegal to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. These are known as “protected characteristics.”

Research has revealed that the business case for equality, diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever (McKinsey 2020). A diverse team is often more creative, as people with different backgrounds and experiences view problems differently. This can lead to better, more innovative solutions (Innovation Caucus 2020).

It is no surprise that grant funding bodies are trying to build a more inclusive innovation ecosystem. Read on to find out more about the steps they are taking to tackle underrepresentation and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK supports diversity and inclusion through a range of targeted interventions, including the Women in Innovation and Young Innovators Awards. They plan to scale up this support over the next three years, according to a set of new measures set out in the Strategic Delivery Plan 2022-2025.

In addition, Innovate UK has recently launched the Inclusive Innovation Awards, which will invest up to £2.5 million per year in inclusive innovations. All winners will receive a £50,000 grant for scale up or development work. More information on the 2022-2023 Awards is available here.

EDI is also an important part of all Innovate UK grant applications, with applicants required to complete an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey. Not only this, but applicants must consider EDI in the design of their project. For example, Innovate UK Smart Grants applicants must explain i) any challenges relating to EDI arising from the project, ii) how they have considered EDI in the development and design of the innovation and iii) how they will promote EDI if they need to recruit as part of their project.

Horizon Europe

Perhaps most apparent are the steps the European Commission are taking to promote gender equality in research and innovation. Firstly, all public bodies, higher education institutions and research organisations from EU Member States and associated countries must have a Gender Equality Plan in place to participate in Horizon Europe. You can find more information on Gender Equality Plans here.

Additionally, the EU Prize for Women Innovators provides three prizes of €100,000 each year to the most talented women innovators from across the EU and Associated Countries. They also award three prizes of €50,000 to the most promising young innovators under 35.

Get in touch

EDI is a clear priority for innovation funding bodies, and it is vital that you consider it within your own grant applications. If you are looking for support, please contact us to arrange a free consultation.