Funding competition Fast Start: Innovation

UK registered small and micro businesses can apply for a share of up to £30 million for affordable, adoptable and investable innovations in net zero and Healthcare.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK is offering small and micro businesses a share of up to £30 million in grants alongside tailored business support delivered by Innovate UK EDGE. You can apply for up to £50,000 for highly innovative ideas that have a clear route to commercialisation through business growth.

Your project must lead to new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

In your application, you must be able to show that you:

  • have a great idea
  • need public funding
  • have the capability to deliver the project
  • will deliver the project

Your idea must focus on either achieving net zero or self-driven healthcare, and how new technology can enable affordable, adoptable and investable innovations in these areas. We are particularly interested in proposals which will help you:

  • develop both your idea and your business
  • create a new revenue stream
  • evidence and enable your market, funding and commercialisation plans
  • show what’s feasible, helping you decide whether to pursue your idea further
  • catalyse further innovation on your path to commercial success
  • respond to changing market conditions

Innovate UK runs many different competitions, and each will have different eligibility and scope requirements. The guidance in this competition brief will always supersede any other guidance. If you are unsure or have any questions, please contact our Customer Support Service who will assist you further.

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

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £25,000 and £50,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total project costs between £25,000 and £50,000
  • start by 1 November 2022
  • end by 30 April 2023
  • last between 3 and 6 months in duration
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application. If you exceed the total project costs of £50,000 you will be ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a completed declaration as part of your application.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered micro or small business
  • not have previously been awarded funding from Innovate UK (recipients of Young Innovators and Women In Innovation awards are exempt from this and are eligible to apply)
  • not have exceeded your £315,000 limit of de minimis or minimal financial assistance funding during the current and previous 2 fiscal years


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 provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

You can only apply into this competition with 1 application. We will only award grant funding to 1 project per business.

You can be a subcontractor in any number of applications.

Previous applications

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

This means you can submit an application that was unsuccessful in one previous competition.

If you submit a new application this time you can only submit an updated application into one future competition that allows this.

We will not award you funding if your business has been funded by Innovate UK previously.

Companies with Directors who have previously received a grant or an Innovation Loan from Innovate UK as part of a different company are eligible to apply but will be considered on a case by case basis.

A company with a previous award to a parent or subsidiary would also be eligible to apply but the parent company must be classified as micro or small business and again will be considered on a case by case basis. If you are unsure, contact our customer support team by email at least 10 working days before the submission deadline.

Eligibility Tree

Attached is a visual representation of the eligibility criteria.

Minimal Financial Assistance (and De minimis where applicable)

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis (such as an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation).

Further information about the UK subsidy control requirements can be found in:

EU Commission 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’s International Obligations to Subsidy Control or the De minimis rules, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

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.


Up to £30 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Each organisation can apply for a grant of between £25,000 and £50,000.

You can claim 100% of your eligible project costs up to the maximum of £50,000. We will aim to pay:

  • 70% of the grant within a month of your agreed project start date
  • A further 20% to be paid in arrears after approval of your 70% claim and evidence received for your 20% claim
  • the remaining 10% of the grant 10 to 14 days after Innovate UK approve your claim

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 European Commission De minimis.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to provide a package of targeted support to enable ambitious UK registered micro and small businesses to reach their potential.

Your proposal must demonstrate how one or more of the seven technology areas outlined in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy UK innovation Strategy will be applied to the specific challenge themes outlined below. The seven technologies are:

  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • AI, digital and advanced computing
  • bioinformatics and genomics
  • engineering biology
  • electronics, photonics and quantum
  • energy and environment technologies
  • robotics and smart machines

We are particularly interested in proposals which will help you:

  • develop both your ambitious idea and your business
  • create a new revenue stream, for example new products, services or IP
  • evidence and enable your market, funding and commercialisation plans
  • show what’s feasible, in helping you decide whether to pursue your idea further
  • catalyse further innovation on your path to commercial success
  • respond to changing market conditions

Innovate UK reserves the right to fund a variety of projects. We call this a ‘portfolio’ approach. The portfolio criteria are:

  • specific challenge themes and technologies
  • project durations
  • project costs, including demonstrating value for money
  • UK regions

Challenge themes

Your project must focus on how one or more of the seven technology areas outlined above, can enable affordable, adoptable, and investible solutions for either:

Achieving net zero and reducing environmental impact through:

  • user-centric low carbon heating and cooling solutions
  • energy generation, storage, management, and active user engagement approaches to energy efficiency
  • zero emission powertrain system development, and digital solutions to optimise transport
  • environmentally focused manufacturing, supply chains and circular economy solutions

Self-driven healthcare, de-centralised healthcare and mental wellbeing through:

  • prevention and self-management of lifestyle diseases using personalised, intuitive, consumer focused and accessible innovations
  • maximising the utility, safety and security of personal health records, including self-generated data
  • assessing new business models and routes to market for products and services related to self-care and self-management
  • developing innovations that support self-management of mental wellbeing

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • cannot be undertaken within the working restrictions of Covid-19
  • do not evidence the potential for their proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic or societal impact, or value for money that will be achieved
  • have been funded by Innovate UK previously
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not allowed under Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance – for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage - for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product
11 July 2022
Pre-recorded applicant briefing: Watch the recording
11 July 2022
Competition opens
12 July 2022
Online question and answer event: Watch the recording
18 July 2022
Online question and answer event: Watch the recording
26 July 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
8 September 2022
Applicants notified
15 September 2022
Next steps webinar for successful applicants
1 November 2022
Project must start by
30 April 2023
Project must end by

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 details

You 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?

You must respond and mark this question as complete, before you can submit your application.

Application team

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

Team members must each complete an Equality Diversity and Inclusion survey. The lead applicant must complete their survey to submit the application.

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 not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Applications will be recommended for funding, descending from a score of 100 points until the budget is committed. An assessor will score questions 8 to 11.

Where a group of applications share a score at the budget cut-off point, they will be prioritised in order of:

  • the idea
  • the impact and added value
  • business resources and capabilities
  • work plan and costs
  • a balanced portfolio across the UK

The resulting funding list will be validated by a senior Innovate UK official.

You will then receive email notification to offer grant funding or to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Whether successful or unsuccessful in receiving grant funding, you will not receive feedback on your application.

You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation, any partners and subcontractors working on your project. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Minimal Financial Assistance declaration (not scored)

You must download the declaration template. You must complete this, declaring any funding received under Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) or De minimis awards, (from any source of public funding) in the applicable period.

You must complete all the fields on your form before uploading, including a digital signature.

You must write 'declaration attached' in the text box.

You must upload the completed declaration as an appendix. It must be a PDF and no larger than 10 MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You must keep all documentation relating to Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) and other De minimis awards for a period of 6 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it.

Question 3. Where did you hear about this competition? (not scored)

Select one of the options from the list below

  • UKRI website
  • Innovate UK Facebook
  • Innovate UK Instagram
  • Innovate UK LinkedIn
  • Innovate UK Twitter
  • Innovate UK employee
  • Gov.UK website
  • Innovate UK KTN
  • Innovate UK EDGE
  • Northern Irish Scottish or Welsh government agencies
  • Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Third party website
  • Innovate UK newsletter
  • Other

Question 4. Challenge themes (not scored)

Select one main category from the challenge themes list in the ‘Scope’ section of this competition for your project. You cannot choose more than one.

  1. Achieving net zero and reducing environmental impact.
  2. Self-driven and de-centralised healthcare and mental wellbeing.

Question 5. Your innovation area (not scored)

Select your Innovation area from the list below. You can only select one.

  • Heat and cooling
  • Energy storage
  • Energy generation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy systems
  • Power trains
  • Transport optimisation
  • Manufacturing for net zero
  • Supply chains for net zero
  • Circular economy
  • Disease prevention
  • Personalised health
  • Health records
  • Manufacturing in health care
  • Cyber security in digital health
  • Personal data
  • New healthcare business model
  • Self-care
  • Mental health

Question 6. Baseline survey (not scored)

You must complete the online baseline survey which will be available when the competition opens. You must then select yes I have completed the survey as your answer to this question. The survey should take you no longer than 5 minutes to complete.

If you would like to see the questions before filling out the online survey, you can download an example PDF copy of the online business survey.

You must upload a copy of the completed baseline survey template as an appendix. It must be a PDF and no larger than 10 MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

If you do not complete and upload this survey you will be ineligible and withdrawn from the competition immediately.

Question 7. Describe the funding plans for the company to support the success of the project? (not scored, but will be used to assess financial viability)

How will you fund the 30% of your project costs that are not being paid in advance?

You must include:

  • the source of the funds currently available, such as the company’s own funds for example, management accounts
  • your funding strategy and how you will continue to support the development of the innovation following completion of the project, with a view towards its eventual commercialisation

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You can upload your evidence of funds as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and no larger than 10MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. The idea

We will score this question out of 25.

What is the problem you wish to solve and why is your proposed approach a good and innovative solution?

You must consider the following in your answer:

  • the specific innovation you propose to develop and how this is different and better than alternative solutions
  • the specific need and size of opportunity
  • why is your solution affordable and investable
  • any barriers to adoption and how they could be overcome

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 9. Impact and added value

We will score this question out of 25.

What will be the impact of receiving the grant to your business?

You must consider the following in your answer:

  • why public funding is necessary and value for money, for example, is there currently a lack of investment, or market failure
  • the impact on your business
  • the outputs of the project in terms of specific deliverables and how will the UK benefit
  • what are the expected impacts on society, the economy and the environment

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 10. Business resources and capabilities

We will score this question out of 25.

Explain why your business is capable of delivering this project.

You must consider the following in your answer:

  • what resources you can access, including the main people involved, relevant track records, and any external resources
  • your capability to deliver in the required timeframe given your existing business activities or constraints
  • how you will deliver outcomes and impact beyond the life of the project, what is your route to market
  • how equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is incorporated into your proposed project or business activities, for example, in the development of your innovation, accessibility of project results, team composition, work environment

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 11. Workplan and costs

We will score this question out of 25.

What will you do with the grant funding? How will you manage the project and risks effectively?

You must consider the following in your answer:

  • what the funding will be spent on, referring to costs for main work packages
  • project risks and how you will mitigate them
  • your freedom to operate for example, patents, IP

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

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.

Background and further information

What happens next

Before we send applications to assessors, we will undertake high level background checks on your company. As an example, we will undertake Know Your Customer (KYC) checks including directors and ownership, along with adverse legal events.

If your application progresses to assessment and is successful, you must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin. Please note, failure to complete these steps may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

You will need to provide:

  • name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
  • a redacted copy of your bank details

In order to process claims, we need to make sure that the bank details you give to us relate to a UK high street bank that is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). The account must have a BACS clearing facility, have been open for at least 3 months and in the same company name as your application.

If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, please use the following sort code checker If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the “BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code,” this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.

Finance checks

We will carry out checks to make sure:

  • you are an established company with access to funds necessary to complete the project
  • you have submitted a completed and signed De Minimis MFA self-declaration form

You must check your portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information.

Your Grant offer Letter (GoL)

Once you have successfully completed the above steps, we will issue your GoL This is emailed to the Project Manager email address provided in your application.

You must sign and return this before you start your project.

Your GoL will show the start date for your project, do not start your project before this date. If you do, be aware that any costs incurred before your start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.

Data sharing

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

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 Innovate UK 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 5pm, 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.

Need help with this service? Contact us