Funding competition Innovate UK Transformative Technologies

UK registered small and micro businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million for affordable, adoptable and investable innovations in transformative technologies.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


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

Innovate UK is offering UK registered small and micro businesses a share of up to £20 million in grants. In addition to the grant support, you will be offered tailored business support delivered by Innovate UK EDGE.

Your innovation 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.

You must focus on one of the transformative technologies and how you can enable affordable, adoptable and investable innovations for:

  • semiconductors
  • future telecoms
  • AI assurance
  • engineering biology
  • quantum
  • sustainable UK materials and manufacturing

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

Innovate UK manages many 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.

Funding type


Project size

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

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total project costs and grant request of between £25,000 and £50,000
  • start by 1 June 2023
  • end by 30 November 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. You can also view a summary of eligible project costs.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of 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 or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered micro or small business.

If your business has been funded by Innovate UK previously, you are not eligible to apply for this competition.

Businesses with directors who have previously received a grant or 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 business with a previous award to a parent or subsidiary would also be eligible to apply, but the parent company must be classified as a micro or small business. Applications 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.


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

An eligible UK business can lead on one application. We will only award grant funding to one project per business.

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.

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, for example, an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Further information about the Subsidy Control Act 2022 requirements can be found in the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (

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 Subsidy Control Act 2022, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.


Innovate UK has allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Each eligible business 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 your grant request within a month of your agreed project start date
  • a further 20% in arrears, after approval of your 70% claim and the evidence of spend made, submitted with your claim
  • the remaining 10% of the grant 10 to 14 days after Innovate UK approve your final claim

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance.

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 in transformative technologies to reach their potential.

You must focus on one of the transformative technologies and how you can enable affordable, adoptable and investable innovations.

Your innovation 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 demonstrate that you:

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

We are particularly interested in how your proposal 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 is 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

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects across:

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

We call this a ‘portfolio’ approach.

Specific challenge themes

You must focus on one of the transformative technologies and how you can enable affordable, adoptable and investable innovations for:


  • with improvements and scale up for semiconductor manufacture within the UK
  • identifying or delivering a clear, game-changing intervention and address an identified industrial requirement or improvement
  • realistically and significantly meeting and providing a long-term commitment to supporting the UK semiconductor industry

Future Telecoms

  • applying innovation from at least one technology area utilising distributed computing, multi agent systems or the application of AI into networking technologies
  • developing new business models and innovation within both wired and wireless communications, including but not limited to:

- neutral host networks
- citizen WI-FI
- mesh networks,
- energy efficient networks
- satellite and non-terrestrial networking solutions

We encourage projects to build on or contribute to open standards development or the extension of OpenRAN

Artificial Intelligence Assurance

  • with the development of novel solutions and processes to advance trust in the compliance and risk of AI systems
  • delivering a clear, game-changing intervention for one or more of the following:
- auditing
- impact assessment or evaluation
- reliability and robustness testing

Engineering Biology

  • with innovation that harnesses advances in biology, and the engineering of biological systems and organisms, to address challenges and improve productivity in:
- human and animal health, from discovery to manufacture
- environmental solutions, sustainability and cleaner manufacturing processes
- food security or biosecurity

  • developing new tools, products, services or processes that exploit engineering biology techniques
  • supporting skills development in the broader engineering biology ecosystem, in areas such as precision fermentation and scale-up


  • with quantum technologies including quantum computing (hardware and software)
  • single photon detection or generation

Sustainable UK Materials and Manufacturing
  • accelerating the development and adoption of resource efficient solutions, with simultaneous demonstration of resilience or technological advancement
  • addressing two or more of the following:
- materials for the future
- smart design
- resilient supply chains
- world class production
- longer in use
- reuse

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope requirements
  • do not evidence potential for the proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic or societal impact
  • do not evidence value for money
  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance

We cannot fund projects that 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
  • 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
20 February 2023
Watch the pre-recorded applicant briefing
20 February 2023
Competition opens
7 March 2023
Online support event: register to attend
29 March 2023 11:00am
Competition closes
27 April 2023 10:36am
Applicants notified
2 May 2023
Next steps webinar for successful applicants
1 June 2023
Projects must start by

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

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 3 sections:

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

Accessibility and inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. Read more on how we are making our application process more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.

You can contact us by emailing or calling 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 your application and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which people from your organisation will work with you on the project and invite those people to help complete the application.

Application details

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

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 maximum score of 100 points until the budget is committed. An assessor will score questions 7 to 10

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.

You will not receive any feedback on your application following assessment, whether successful or unsuccessful in receiving grant funding.

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 or 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.

You must write “declaration attached” in the question text box.

You must upload the completed declaration as an appendix. It must be a PDF and 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
  • Events
  • Other

Question 4. Challenge themes (not scored)

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

  • Semiconductors
  • Future Telecoms
  • Artificial Intelligence Assurance
  • Engineering Biology
  • Quantum
  • Sustainable UK Materials and Manufacturing

Question 5. Your innovation area (not scored)

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

  • Semiconductor performance
  • Semiconductor manufacture
  • Distributed computing
  • Networks
  • Telecoms
  • Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence systems
  • Engineering biology
  • Human or animal biology
  • Biological systems
  • Quantum
  • Quantum computing
  • Sustainable manufacture
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Materials

Question 6. 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.

Question 7. 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 8. 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 9. 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 10. Work packages 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 the 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

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

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance. You can also view a visual summary of our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Where applicable, your organisation and team are encouraged to review and follow the Machine Learning Security Principles provided by NCSC.

Your organisation and team are also encouraged to review and follow the National Cyber Strategy provided by DCMS.

Where applicable, you should demonstrate alignment to the CPNI Security-Minded approach to Information Management.

Further guidance and support for Trusted Research is available from UKRI.

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 project set up, 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
  • evidence of funding resources

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 Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 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, you can initially check your details on the 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 MFA self-declaration form

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

Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

Your Grant Offer Letter (GOL)

Once you have successfully completed the above steps, we will issue your GOL to the IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload 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.

If your application is unsuccessful

Your application may score well but be unsuccessful. This can be because your average score has not reached the funding threshold for this competition or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach applied to this competition.

Data sharing

This competition 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.

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 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Need help with this service? Contact us