UK government releases £125 million in grant funding to support innovators

By Murielle Gonzalez | Published: 16-Jul-2019

The cash injection will see businesses turn ideas into new products and services on the market

Innovate UK has announced that businesses large and small across the UK are poised to receive a £125 million cash boost to turn their innovative ideas into new products and services on the market. This cash injection will cover businesses of any size at various stages of innovation.

The grant money is comprised of £100m, available as part of the Government’s ‘Smart’ grant programme. The funding will help businesses take initial ideas from concept stage to full commercialisation.

A further £25m is also available through Innovate UK for late-stage research and development projects.

Businesses can submit innovative ideas for independent expert assessment and move to secure investment to propel them to international success, boosting the UK economy along the way.

Due to the Smart grant scheme’s popularity with businesses, there will be a rolling schedule of competitions throughout the year, with the latest round now open for applications until 24 July.

Previous beneficiaries of government financial support include:

  • 3D printing company Photocentric - which expects to sell over £8 million worth of its products by 2020
  • Machine learning company Magic Pony Technology, which was sold to Twitter for $150m after impressing them with their algorithms that can understand features of imagery
  • Cobalt Light Systems, whose grant helped the company to develop a prototype for screening liquids to identify explosives at airports. They have been acquired by Agilent – a US analytical laboratory technologies company - for £40m.

Each of these companies benefited from ‘Smart’ grant funding, which helped turn their concepts into marketable products.

This new £125m boost will give enterprising businesses a launch-pad for their cutting-edge ideas and enable them to develop the products and services of the future

Business Secretary Greg Clark explained: “We are investing record amounts into R&D. This new £125m boost will give enterprising businesses a launch-pad for their cutting-edge ideas and enable them to develop the products and services of the future.”

Clark said the government is backing homegrown businesses to boost productivity and create jobs, growth and opportunity in every part of the UK. "This includes one-to-one mentoring from successful businesses, peer improvement networks and the government-backed British Business Bank awarding over 60,000 Start-Up loans since 2012."

Over the last 12 years, the UK government has invested more than £2.2 billion in more than 11,000 projects focusing on technological innovation, generating up to £16bn for the UK economy and creating 70,000 jobs.

The cash available forms part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which is committed to keeping the UK at the forefront of research and development while boosting people’s earning power.


Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK, said: “Both our successful grants and loans schemes are popular with businesses because they help great ideas get to market faster.

“Smart grants are an excellent way of supporting innovation in single companies or, generating collaborations between companies, working with our world-class research base. Our Innovation loans suit late-stage-development businesses about to become, or just becoming, revenue earning. Both are awarded to projects that will make a real impact on the UK economy.”

Describing Innovate UK’s support for Magic Pony Technology, Rob Bishop, now Director of Product Infrastructure at Twitter, said: "We were fortunate to gain a development of prototype grant from Innovate UK’s Smart grant scheme in 2015, which provided us with essential funding to help turn our research ideas into a functioning product, ultimately leading to Magic Pony Technology being acquired by Twitter in 2016.”

Angel investors

This funding comes in addition to a new £3m investment accelerator scheme, the Regional Angel Investment Accelerator Pilots, which will encourage Business Angels across the country to channel investment and expertise into pioneering small and medium-sized companies.

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