Funding competition Women in Innovation Awards 2022/23

Women with exciting, innovative ideas who will inspire others can apply for an award which includes a £50,000 grant and bespoke business support.

This competition has not yet opened.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is offering up to 50 Women in Innovation Awards to women entrepreneurs across the UK. The winners will receive a £50,000 grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The aim of this competition is to find women with exciting, innovative ideas and ambitious plans that will inspire others. The awards are for women founders, co-founders or senior decision makers working in businesses that have been operating for at least one year.

Applicants must be confident, with the support of an award, that they can make a significant contribution to a pressing societal, environmental or economic challenge through their innovative project.

The competition is split into 2 phases. In the application phase 1, the awards will be assessed by independent experts. In the interview phase 2, the shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel of experts.

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

Grant

Project size

Each award will provide £50,000 of funding. Awards must start on 1 April 2023 and will last for one year.

Who can apply

Your award

Your award must:

  • have a total grant funding request of £50,000
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end on 31 March 2024
  • last for 12 months

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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

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

Lead organisation

To be eligible for an award you must:

  • be a woman founder, co-founder or senior decision maker within a UK registered micro, small or medium (SME) business which has been operating for at least 12 months by the competition closing date
  • be resident in the UK
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be legally and contractually able to use the funding
  • be available to attend an online interview panel during the weeks beginning 5 December and 12 December 2022
  • attend 2 bootcamps on the week commencing 20 March 2023 and in September 2023.
  • be fully committed to volunteer as a role model for up to 5 days over the duration of the award

Applications from UK-registered social enterprises operating economically will be eligible if they meet all other criteria.

Subcontractors

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 make one application for yourself.

More than one woman working within the same organisation can apply.

The awards are for individuals, but this does not prevent you from working on the project with others.

Previous applications

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

We will not award you funding if you have:

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.

Funding

Innovate UK has allocated up to £2.5 million for up to 50 awards at £50,000 each. We will also provide a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The funding will be paid in 3 increments:

  • £33,333 upfront in April 2023
  • £11,667 at the mid-point in October 2023
  • £5,000 at the end of your project on receipt of a completed statement of expenditure by April 2024

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.

In addition to the grant funding, all award holders will receive a package of support tailored to their needs.

The expert advice available includes, but is not limited to:

  • funding and finance options and how to access these, including introductions to investors and training on pitching
  • media and communications, such as branding
  • intellectual property
  • developing new business models
  • evaluating market opportunities
  • finding new partners
  • growth and scale up
  • developing international collaborations and accessing global markets
  • business planning strategy

Access to relevant world leading facilities and equipment will also be provided where this is appropriate.

The package of support will be delivered by:

You will also be introduced to senior business mentors and Women in Innovation ambassadors within the Innovate UK KTN network as part of your Award.

Role model work

Award holders will be required to volunteer as a role model for at least 5 days over the one year duration of the award. This is likely to generate interest in their stories and businesses. See the previous winners of the Women in Innovation award from 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2021.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to fund and support a diverse portfolio of Women in Innovation Award winners:

  • who will be relatable role models for women from all backgrounds
  • from regions across the UK
  • who are solving a range of pressing societal, environmental and economic challenges
  • in a variety of innovation areas

Your proposal must identify clearly evidenced pressing societal, environmental or economic challenges, and how your project and innovation can help solve them.

Applications can come from any area of innovation (where innovation is defined as the commercially successful exploitation of ideas) and be applied to any part of the economy.

We plan to offer up to 50 awards.

We want to support women who are at a critical stage with their business, where an award will enable them to take an important step forward. The funding should help you make a real difference to innovation in the UK including in and beyond your sector or innovation area.

You should be someone who will be an inspiration to others.

We are looking for women who clearly explain how they will benefit from the full package of funding and support on offer and who can describe how this will add value to them and their business.

We are particularly encouraging applications from women who:

  • have the potential, capability, experience and personal drive to become leaders in business innovation
  • want to be a role model for others, including in their region, sector and to young people
  • have a clear vision for their business
  • are looking to develop a game changing novel idea or business innovation
  • know what they are hoping to achieve from the award and how to measure success

As part of your application, you must include a short video, up to 3 minutes long, to describe or show the problem you are looking to solve and the difference that an award will make to you personally.

You must use Innovate UK ‘Women In Innovation’ Video platform (link will be available when competition opens) to record your video and then provide a link in your application.

If we are unable to view your video, your application will be made ineligible.

We want to fund a variety of projects across geographical areas. We call this a portfolio approach.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding awards that:

  • do not intend to use the full package of support on offer
  • have a negative impact on the environment or society
  • have a detrimental effect on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • do not involve any research and development or innovation, for example, the creation of information-only websites
  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • involve exports or imports
  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • include activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are projects not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are projects not allowed under Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are projects 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
18 August 2022
Online briefing event: register to attend
22 August 2022
Competition opens
19 October 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
21 November 2022
Invite to interview
21 November 2022
Feedback to applicants invited to interview
5 December 2022
Interviews start
16 December 2022
Interviews end
21 December 2022
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.

Interviews

If your online application is successful at this stage, you will be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place either online or at a designated location.

The date and time of your interview will be included in your invitation.

Before the interview and by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

The interview is for you, but you can bring one partner with you if you think this is appropriate. You need to send us their name by the date stated in the invite email. Make sure they will be available on the published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 10 minutes
  • have no more than 10 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You must submit your presentation slides to Innovate UK by the date stated on the email invite. You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to 4 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams

Interview

After your presentation the panel will spend 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored. The assessors will not have access to the equality diversity and inclusion survey data.

Application details

You must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Projects must start on 1 April 2023 and be of 12 months’ 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.

Project summary

Describe yourself, your business and your idea briefly, and be clear about what makes your idea 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.

Scope

Describe how your application fits the scope of the competition. If your application is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers for questions 8 to 12, questions 1 to 7 are not scored. You will receive feedback from them for each scored question.

Find out more about how our assessors assess.

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 and any subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

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.

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.

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: Project start date (not scored)

Can you confirm that you are able to start your project on 1 April 2023?

You must be able to start your project on the 1 April 2023 to apply for this competition or your application will be made ineligible.

Please select yes to confirm you are able to start your project on this date. If you select no, your application will be made ineligible and not sent for assessment.

Question 4: Previous applications (not scored)

Have you applied for funding from any Innovate UK competition previously? Your answer will not affect your eligibility for this award.

Please select Yes or No.

Question 5: Previous support (not scored)

Have you previously received support from the Innovate UK family including Innovate UK EDGE, Innovate UK KTN and the Catapults? Existing business support will not affect your eligibility for the Women in Innovation Awards.

Please state Yes or No as part of your answer and explain what support you have received.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 6: How you heard about the Awards (not scored)

How did you find out about the Women in Innovation Awards? Please select one or more of the following:

  • recommended by a colleague
  • recommended by a friend
  • Innovate UK’s social media channels such as LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Innovate UK KTN’s social media channels such as LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Innovate UK KTN Women in Innovation newsletter
  • an email or other communication from Innovate UK
  • an email or other communication from Innovate UK KTN
  • Women in Innovation event
  • Women in Innovation social media channels such as World Labs or LinkedIn
  • Innovate UK EDGE
  • other (please specify)

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 7: Additional support (not scored)

Even if you are unsuccessful, we may be able to find you some support. Are you happy for us to share your details with our partner organisations, Innovate UK EDGE, Innovate UK KTN and Catapults?

Please select either yes or no.

Question 8: Your potential to be a leader and role model to inspire other women – video pitch

You must:

  • record a video using Innovate UK ‘Women In Innovation’ Video platform (link will be available when competition opens)
  • provide the link in your answer to this question (the platform has a button to copy the link which you subsequently paste in your answer to this question)

Your video must describe or show the problem you are looking to solve.

It must be no longer than 3 minutes. If your video is over 3 minutes long, only the first 3 minutes will be used to assess your application.

Your video must be hosted on Innovate UK ‘Women In Innovation’ Video platform (link will be available when competition opens).

If we cannot view your video your application will be made ineligible. The video must remain available until 1 April 2023.

After you have recorded your video, it takes on average 30 minutes for your video to process and produce a URL. You must make sure that you leave enough time for this process prior to the submission deadline.

If you experience any issues whilst using this platform you must contact support@iuk.ukri.org at least 5 working days before the competition closes for advice.

In your video you must:

  • introduce yourself and your business
  • describe how you would feel about being a champion for equality, diversity and inclusion and a role model to inspire women (especially in your sector or innovation area, region and to young people)
  • describe your relevant skills and capabilities, giving evidence of aptitude and potential to lead, inspire and influence, communicate, and a willingness to achieve your potential.
  • explain the difference that an award will make to you personally
  • describe any particular equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) challenges in your sector or innovation area that have motivated you to apply
  • include any additional information about you and your idea that will help to strengthen your application

If you were encouraged to apply for this award by a colleague, please acknowledge this in your video pitch.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

This question is worth 34% of the total score.

Question 9: Need or challenge

What is the pressing societal, environmental or economic challenge(s) you are trying to solve through your innovation and what is the expected impact?

Explain:

  • the overall societal, environmental or economic challenge(s) you are focussing on
  • the expected impacts on society, the economy and the environment
  • what potential negative impacts you have considered and how you plan to mitigate them
  • any equality, diversity or inclusion challenges if appropriate
  • any links to current government priorities where relevant, including the Government’s Innovation Strategy.

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

This question is worth 17% of the total score.

Question 10: Your idea or business opportunity

What new idea or business opportunity would you like to develop with the award, and why is this a critical next step for your business?

Describe:

  • the new idea or business opportunity and why this is important
  • how your new idea or business opportunity will respond to the challenge identified in question 9
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the dynamics of the market you are targeting and any other potential markets.
  • how you will improve on 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
  • 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 it will make you more competitive
  • how you will consider equality, diversity and inclusion in the development of your innovation (for example, unintended exclusion of minority groups, recognising bias)

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

This question is worth 17% of the total score.

Question 11: Plan for the award

How will you use the full package of support provided by the award?

Explain fully how you plan to use the non-grant and grant package of support to add value to your work and to develop yourself as a leader in innovation.

Describe or explain:

  • the specific activities you would undertake with £50,000 of funding
  • the cost of each activity you plan to undertake and explain how this represents value for money
  • who you will need to work with to successfully execute your project or carry out the planned activity, including any important internal or external parties, such as subcontractors
  • any resources, equipment and facilities required for the project or activity and how you will access them
  • how you will manage the project to keep it on track and maximise the likelihood of success, including any tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure successful delivery
  • the main risks and uncertainties of your project or planned activity, for example any technical, commercial, managerial or environmental risks, and explain how these will be mitigated

Describe what expert advice you are most interested in and why. You can refer to the information on the package of support in the funding section of the competitions Eligibility guidance. Mention if you would like to access world leading facilities and equipment as offered by Innovate UK’s supporting partners. If so, provide details of what you are looking for.

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

You must upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 1 A4 page long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You can also upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 1 A4 page long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question is worth 16% of the total score.

Question 12: Your vision for your business and timeliness of the award

What is the vision for your business and why is this the right time for you and your business to benefit from the award?

Describe or explain:

  • your vision for where you see your business in the future
  • what success looks like and how it will be measured
  • 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
  • the current status with your business and progress to date including other relevant support that you have received.
  • the added value of the award to the business and why this is the right time for the injection of support it offers
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this.
  • what you expect the next steps to be after the award

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

You can submit details of any public or private support received to date and graphics to illustrate the vision as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to one A4 page and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question is worth 16% of the total score.

3. Finances

You must complete your full project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

To complete the finances section in your application, you must enter your full project costs and make sure that the funding you are claiming is no more than £50,000.

If you claim for more than £50,000 you will not be eligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

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

Background and further information

Innovate UK launched Women in Innovation in 2016, after research revealed that just 1 in 7 applications for Innovate UK support came from women. Boosting the number of women entrepreneurs could deliver £250 million to the economy.

The overall aim was to get more women with excellent ideas innovating within UK businesses. Women in Innovation is part of our commitment to promote greater diversity and inclusion in business innovation.

Shortly after launching the campaign we opened our first competition for Women in Innovation Awards. The campaign and awards programme in 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2021 have had a huge impact so far. The number of women applying to Innovate UK’s funding and support has increased by 71%. The Women in Innovation Awards 2022 to 2023 will build on this success.

If you wish to discuss your eligibility as a woman who can apply into this competition, email support@iuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Bootcamps

The Women in Innovation bootcamps will be held at the start and mid-point of your award.

The bootcamps are an opportunity to engage and network with both those providing the expert support available and other peers in your cohort, including your innovation advisor.

We expect you to agree your action plan at the first bootcamp.

Innovate UK KTN

Visit the Women in Innovation programme page on the Innovate UK KTN website to:

  • read frequently asked questions from previous applicants
  • register for support workshops for completing your application
  • register for expert advice sessions
  • register for future networking events
  • read stories from previous Women in Innovation award holders
  • join the Women in Innovation community

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 support@iuk.ukri.org 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. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us