Funding competition Partner selection for future Launchpads

Local leadership can apply to partner with Innovate UK to design a future Launchpad. You must evidence a business innovation cluster suited to a Launchpad.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is inviting local place leadership in any part of the UK to partner with us on the design of a future Launchpad programme of investment for a targeted business innovation cluster.

Each Launchpad investment will be delivered by Innovate UK.

For each Launchpad, Innovate UK will invest up to £7.5 million for business-led innovation projects and wrap-around support. This will be awarded through competitive opportunities tailored to the needs of the business innovation cluster. Those opportunities will run from 2023 onwards, subject to the approval of their business case.

Through this partner selection opportunity, we wish to identify business innovation clusters suitable for a Launchpad programme of investment.

We are looking for local leaders to work with Innovate UK on the design of those Launchpads.

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

Funding type


Project size

This partner selection opportunity is not offering any funding.

Who can apply

The lead organisation for your project team must be the local leadership of the innovation cluster’s area.

You can be one or more of the following types of organisation:

  • a devolved administration
  • an enterprise agency
  • a mayoral combined authority
  • a local authority
  • a Local Enterprise Partnership
  • a pan-regional body

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

If your organisation falls under a different category to those listed and you want to apply, you can contact Innovate UK at for guidance and clarification on your eligibility.

You must be able to demonstrate that your organisation is of good financial standing.

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

Your application to this opportunity can include invited collaborators or reference to collaborators and other stakeholders you would want to bring into your partnership in the future. There is no funding available for any organisations through this initial partner selection opportunity from the Launchpad programme.

How programme partners are selected

Applications for this opportunity will be assessed by independent assessors and considered by Innovate UK’s Launchpad Programme Selection Panel.

Following the assessment process, Innovate UK will select partners for the future Launchpad programme.

Number of applications

An eligible organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this opportunity.

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This opportunity does not provide funding to the applicant local leadership.

Future business-led Launchpad competitions will provide 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 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 opportunity 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 opportunity, we will tell you as soon as possible.


No funding will be available for this initial partner selection opportunity of the Launchpad programme.

Innovation clusters selected for future Launchpads will receive Innovate UK investment of up to £7.5 million, for business led innovation projects and wrap-around support. Those Launchpads will run from 2023 onwards, subject to the approval of their business case.

You are not required to commit funding to your proposed Launchpad as the Launchpad programme will be funded by Innovate UK.

Your proposal

Launchpad partnership opportunity

Innovate UK has announced the Launchpad programme to grow innovation activity in less mature business innovation clusters, in all parts of the UK.

The aim is to strengthen the business base of innovative SMEs with high-growth potential.

Your objectives must be to build business innovation capacity and activity, private investment in innovation and business growth in the targeted clusters.

We plan to select up to ten innovation clusters during 2022 to 2025 for Launchpad support, subject to the approval of their business case. This includes the two pilots already launched in 2022.

Your aim must be to design a Launchpad programme of investment with Innovate UK, that will support a targeted business innovation cluster in your area. Your proposal must be in the interests of the economy and society in your area.

Your design will need to include how you will tailor support to the needs of the busines innovation cluster and how it will complement existing local business support programmes.

If you wish to align an existing, complementary, local programme to the Launchpad programme, you can demonstrate this in your proposal

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • evidence of at least one significant business innovation cluster that could benefit from the innovation investment
  • your representation of the local leadership in the area of the cluster
  • your commitment to provide support on the business case development for investing public funding into the cluster to enable business-led innovation projects
  • your ability to convene the influential stakeholders in your area, to gain their inputs into the design of the Launchpad programme
  • your ability to drive up awareness of the programme and ensure that local businesses submit high quality business led project applications into the future funding opportunities

Specific themes

Your proposal can also include information on:

  • additional or secondary innovation clusters in your area
  • your organisation’s strategies for location based cluster development, as distinct to sector or technology growth strategies
  • your area’s baseline economic, business infrastructure, innovation networks and relevant societal metrics, for instance skill levels in the population, as evidence for the potential for innovation and business growth
  • previous analyses or relevant reports, for instance a science and innovation audit (SIA) or similar study of the local ecosystem

Projects we will not fund

We are not seeking partnerships with applicants that are:

  • asking for funding to cover the cost of designing a Launchpad with Innovate UK
  • unable to evidence a significant business innovation cluster in their area
  • unable to represent local leadership for their area
  • unable to demonstrate their local convening power

We cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

10 October 2022
Competition opens
7 November 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
15 September 2023 12:45pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:

  • that all the information provided in the application is correct
  • your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
  • all sections of the application are marked as complete
  • if collaborative, that all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&Cs)

You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.

What we ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

Accessibility and inclusion
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 15 working days before the competition closing date.

You can email or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the opportunity. 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 all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.

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 and full registered address of your organisation partners and any subcontractors working on the project.

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

Question 2. The innovation cluster

What is the business cluster you are proposing for a Launchpad?

Your answer must focus on the main cluster you want to highlight. Be aware that each Launchpad will target only one cluster even if your area contains more.


  • the activities and value this cluster creates, explain what it makes, sells, provides and for who
  • key organisations (private or public) who contribute to how the cluster operates
  • any technologies that form the basis of the cluster’s competitive advantage
  • the geographic area the cluster occupies
  • whether the cluster would be characterised as large or small, and the basis on which you make this assessment
  • any key catalysts or drivers that help to explain why the cluster is there

Question 3. Team and resources

Who would be in the project team and what are their roles?


  • the roles, skills and experience of the key individuals who are relevant to the partnership and Launchpad
  • the details of any vital external parties who you will need to work with for a successful Launchpad, which could for instance include a local networking group, business forum, or institutional organisations
  • what makes this team, including the external parties, the important group for delivering the Launchpad, for instance for driving up local business awareness
  • relevant products or offerings the team will bring to the cluster, including any recent efforts to respond to the economic opportunity it presents

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 4. Market awareness

What does the market look like for the innovation cluster?


  • the target markets for the key businesses in the cluster, backed up by references where available
  • the opportunities for growth (domestic, international or both) for the key businesses in the cluster and for the cluster overall
  • the cluster’s current position in targeting these growth markets
  • how the cluster could evolve in the medium to long term
  • market factors that could constrain the cluster’s growth, which might include disruptive pinch points, bottlenecks or vulnerabilities

Question 5. Wider impacts and added value

What impact will a Launchpad have regionally through the expected economic benefits, environmental impacts, and social impacts of growing the innovation cluster?

Describe and, where possible, quantify the economic benefits from a Launchpad such as growth in business activities, regional productivity increases, and import substitution.

Describe and, where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities, for example on the missions in the Levelling Up White Paper
  • any expected local environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected social impacts, either positive or negative

Background and further information

Recommended references on innovation cluster leadership and management include:

There are currently two pilot Launchpads and we recommend you look at the related opportunities. This will help clarify the opportunity available to Launchpad programme partners.

You are also encouraged to review the UK Government’s Levelling Up White Paper

Data sharing

This opportunity is operated by Innovate UK.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with our own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application. Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy is accessible here.

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.

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).

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