Funding competition Combined investor partnerships: November 2021

UK registered SMEs can apply for grant funding alongside private investment from selected investor partners.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Investor partnership programmes bring together:

  • Innovate UK’s expertise in identifying innovation and using grant funding to change the risk profile of businesses
  • investor partners’ aligned funding and expertise in identifying opportunities and teams that can best use extra investment finance

This approach gives your business access to the capital investment it needs to develop and commercialise your innovations.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, has selected investor partners who have demonstrated that they have the credibility, capability, capacity and appetite to invest in innovative, technology-led businesses in areas that align with our objectives in programme areas. The investor partners will work with Innovate UK to invite innovative businesses to apply for grant funding alongside their investment.

These are the eligible investor partnership programmes and the associated investor partners in this round:

  • Ageing Society Grand Challenge Investor Partnerships: 24 Haymarket
  • Ageing Society Grand Challenge Investor Partnerships:Nesta
  • Ageing Society Grand Challenge Investment Partnerships: Northstar Ventures
  • Clean Growth Innovation Fund: EQUANS
  • Northern Angel Hub regional angel investment accelerator pilot: Northern Angels Hub
  • North East Angel R&D Programme regional angel investment accelerator pilot: Northstar Ventures
  • SETsquared Regional Angel Investment Accelerator: SET Squared
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Investor Partnerships: Clean Growth Investment Management LLP
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Investor Partnerships: HG Ventures LLC
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Investor Partnerships: Midven Ltd
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Investor Partnerships: Speedinvest III EuVECA GmbH & Co KG
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge Investor Partnerships: Turquoise International Ltd
  • Quantum technologies: IP Group

To be successful, your project must be independently assessed by Innovate UK as fundable and receive investment from the investor partner.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Each investor partnership has an agreed range of total eligible project costs. Your introducing investor partner will discuss this with you and inform you if your proposal is eligible.

Who can apply

Your project

The eligibility criteria will depend on which investor partnership programme you are applying to. Each investor partnership programme has one or more investor partners who may consider investing in your business alongside the grant funding for your project. You must be invited by the investor partner you plan to work with to apply for this competition.

The investor partner will provide the additional eligibility criteria for your application in writing, but the following rules apply to all applications.

The introducing investor partner will inform you of:

  • the latest date for the start of your project
  • the latest date for the end of your project
  • the minimum and maximum duration of your project

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, your investor partner must confirm justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Your organisation

This competition is open to single applicants only. To apply your organisation must:

  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to apply by your investor partner
  • have discussed and agreed your proposal with your investor partner before submitting

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

You can only be invited to submit one application into this round of the competition by your investor partner.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

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. We 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.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times 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 we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.


Each investor partner has an agreed allocation of Innovate UK funding that can be used to provide support to innovation projects in this competition.

Innovate UK will decide which projects are eligible and in scope to receive grant funding.

The investor partner will inform you how much funding remains available after existing commitments.

If you are successful you will receive:

  • grant funding to cover a proportion of eligible costs of your project
  • investment in your business with the investor partner acting as the lead investor

Each programme will specify minimum amounts of investment that must be aligned to the level of the grant funding. Your investor partner will make you aware of these.

Your business must have sufficient capital resources, including through investment from the investor partner and the grant funding, to enable you to meet all your projects eligible costs.

All recipients must act commercially, and your funding request must not exceed the limits specified below.

You must confirm with your investor partner the maximum percentage of funding that is available. If your application exceeds the maximum grant level, then it will be rejected. In all cases the investment from investor partners must always be at least equal to the grant funding.

Feasibility studies and industrial research projects

The amount of funding available as a percentage of eligible project cost for feasibility studies and industrial research projects is specific to the investor partner programme.

Typically Innovate UK will fund up to 50% of eligible project costs for feasibility studies and industrial research projects. For some programmes funding of up to 70% of eligible project costs is available.

Experimental development projects

Innovate UK will fund up to 45% of eligible project costs for experimental development projects for micro or small organisations and up to 35% for medium sized organisations.

Your proposal

The scope for your application will depend on which investor partnership programme you are applying for. Your investor partner will review your proposed project application and only invite you to apply if they believe it to be in scope. Please contact them early to begin discussions.

Research categories

As defined in the guidance on categories of research, we will fund the following projects:

  • feasibility
  • industrial research
  • experimental development

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • not carried out by SMEs
  • collaborative R&D projects
  • not part of a company’s growth plan
  • unable to prove there is potential for return on investment and growth
  • large capital infrastructure
  • not invited by a specified investor partner

  • subsidies dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • subsidies contingent on the use of domestic content – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product
11 November 2021
Competition opens
10 December 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
24 January 2022 1:13pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Subsidy Basis

Will the project, including any related activities, you want Innovate UK to fund, affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU?

All participants must complete this section.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead applicant must then select yes in the application question.. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 3 to 12, question 1 and 2 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 2. Programme and investor partner (not scored)

Which partnership programme are you applying for and which investor invited you? Select from the options below.

  • Ageing Society: 24 Haymarket
  • Ageing Society: Nesta
  • Ageing Society: NorthStar Ventures
  • Clean Growth: EQUANS
  • Northern Angel Hub RAIA: Northern Angels Hub
  • North East Angel R&D Programme RAIA: Northstar Ventures
  • SETsquared: SETsquared
  • TFI: Clean Growth Investment Management
  • TFI: HG Ventures
  • TFI: Midven
  • TFI: Speedinvest
  • TFI: Turquoise International
  • Quantum: IP Group

Question 3. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 4. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You can submit one appendix. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • the details of any subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for taking into account the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the team structure

You can submit one appendix. This can include a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project, and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 7. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

Describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market, particularly if COVID-19 has changed market dynamics
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 8. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside your organisation?

Describe, and where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:

  • external parties
  • customers
  • others in the supply chain
  • broader industry
  • the UK economy

Describe, and where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 9. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones, taking into account the possible impact of further COVID-19 restrictions

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 11. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • whether this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and investment and if so, the difference the public funding and investment would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity you would undertake, and the related spend

Question 12. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

In terms of the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us