open now Opened: 25 April 2022 | Closes: 27 July 2022
Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme. It has focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid, economic return to the UK.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing, and world leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation. Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector.
Your proposal must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.
Questions for this round of Smart have been updated to reflect the importance of obtaining economic benefits from public funding, and the potential for successful commercialisation, growth and exports.
Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy such as, but not exclusively, net zero, the arts, design and media.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a highly competitive process where your chance of success in securing funding will depend on the number and quality of applications submitted.
This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Projects of 6 to 18 months must have total project costs of between £100,000 and £500,000 and can be single or collaborative. Projects of 19 to 36 months must have total project costs of between £100,000 and £2 million and must be collaborative.
Who can apply
If your application does not meet the eligibility criteria for this competition, it will be marked as ineligible and will not be sent for assessment.
Your project must:
- start by 1 January 2023
- end by 31 December 2025
- include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
- follow specific rules dependent on its duration
- carry out all of its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
The end by date is the date by which all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted project end date will not be extended.
If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it:
- must have total project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
- can be single or collaborative
If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:
- have total project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
- be collaborative
You must only include eligible project costs in your application.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be an SME if you want to work alone
- be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if collaborative
- include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities
- claim grant funding
If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses (one SME, and one business of any size) and there must be a credible route to market for the output of the project. Since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.
If collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim grant funding by entering their costs during the application.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
Subcontractors must be based in the UK for the duration of the project and their portion of the project work must be carried out in the UK. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs. Without meeting these criteria, a subcontractor’s contribution would be ineligible.
Please note that for the purposes of this competition the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are crown dependencies and not classed as part of the UK. Subcontractors located there would be deemed ineligible.
Number of applications
Businesses or RTOs can only lead on one application. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will not be forwarded for assessment.
All partners can collaborate on any number of applications.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
You can make a maximum of 2 submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.
If your application goes through to assessment and is deemed unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors.
Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:
- failed to exploit a previously funded project
- an overdue independent accountant’s report
- failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)
This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.
EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. Innovate UK is unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.
You must at all times make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.
If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK needs to change the terms of this competition, Innovate UK will tell you as soon as possible.
Up to £25 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.
If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.
For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 50% if you are a large organisation
For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 25% if you are a large organisation
If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.
Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
- 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation