Funding competition Young Innovators Awards 2020/21

Young people can apply for an award to make their business idea a reality. The Award includes a £5,000 grant, tailored business support and a living allowance.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK is working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to find young people from across the UK with great business ideas.

Our goal is to find a new group of young innovators that, with our help, can turn their great ideas into successful businesses.

We’re looking for young people who would benefit most from the Young Innovators Awards, including the financial support and tailored package of expert advice and access to innovation tools and connections on offer. The financial support and tailored coaching and mentoring will be provided directly to the successful applicants.

The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

The Young Innovators Awards will support up to 100 more young people by 2023 through annual competitions. So far, 24 young people have received Young Innovators awards and 12,000 young people have engaged with the #IdeasMeanBusiness campaign. You can find out more about the Young Innovators programme here.

Funding type


Project size

You will get a living allowance for the 2 days (15 hours) a week that you will spend working on your Award at an hourly rate matching the UK real living wage plus a £5,000 grant. Awards will start 1 December 2020. You will get 12 months' support.

Who can apply

This competition is open to single applicants only.

Awards will start 1 December 2020. Support will be given to individuals for 12 months.

To be eligible for an award you must:

  • be a UK resident who has the right to work in the UK, or will have the right to work in the UK at the time of the Award
  • be aged between 18 and 30 on the date of competition closing
  • have not previously received a Young Innovators Award from Innovate UK
You must be able to commit:

  • to working for 2 days (15 hours) per week on your Young Innovators Award
  • to attending 2 x 1.5 day bootcamps (w/c 16th November 2020 and w/c 24th May 2021)
  • to providing at least 4 days over the duration of the Award to be a role model for the Young Innovators Programme

You are eligible to apply if you are receiving support from The Prince’s Trust’s in-person Enterprise programme.

De minimis

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants for a de minimis award must complete and provide to Innovate UK a de minimis declaration. This states any and all de minimis awards (from any source of public funding) during the current and previous 2 fiscal years.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission from a previous round to apply for this competition as long as you did not receive an award and adhere to the eligibility criteria.


You can apply for a share of up to approximately £430,000. Each successful applicant can claim for a £5,000 de minimis grant and a living allowance based on two days’ (15 hours) work per week as part of their Award. Claims will need to be agreed with your Innovation Champion, who will be allocated to you if you are successful.

In this competition, we plan to give awards to 32 young people across the UK. The same benefits will be offered to all award holders.

De minimis

In order to minimise distortion of competition, the European Commission sets limits on how much assistance can be given without its prior approval, to organisations operating in a competitive market. There is a ceiling of €200,000 for all de minimis aid provided to any one recipient over a 3 fiscal year period.

You need to declare any de minimis aid awarded to any other public funding body which requests it. You must also keep all documentation associated with the award for 10 years from the date the award is granted.

Your proposal

The aim of the Young Innovators Awards is to find young people with great business ideas who have the potential to become future leaders in innovation and successful entrepreneurs.

The Award includes:

  • tailored business support including but not limited to media and communications including branding, business planning strategy, confidence, growing your networks, funding and finance options for example introductions to investors and pitch training, financial planning and more
  • a living allowance for 2 days (15 hours) per week throughout the duration of the award
  • a £5,000 grant to cover project costs including travel to meet customers/partners, attending relevant training courses, equipment, hiring office space and IT support.
Costs must be agreed with your Innovation Champion.

We are looking for business ideas that are innovative, so they must:

  • address a problem
  • be different
  • be significantly better than what is currently on offer including from existing businesses

We are looking to support award holders across the UK working on a wide range of business ideas. Your idea can be:

  • ready to be developed into a new business
  • within an existing business

We expect to see a wide range of business types, sectors and ideas for products, processes and services.

In the application you will need to pitch your idea in a short video, up to 3 minutes long. This must be uploaded to either Vimeo or YouTube and provided as a private link in question 6 of your application. If you have included password protection on your video please state the password in question 6. If we are unable to view your video your application will be ineligible.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • applicants that have previously received an Innovate UK Young Innovators Award
  • applicants who would not benefit from the package of support on offer
  • applicants who do not intend to use the full Award package of funding and support
  • applicants who are younger than 18 or older than 30 on the close date of the competition
11 June 2020
Online briefing: watch the recording
15 June 2020
Competition opens
2 September 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
23 October 2020 3:24pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

We encourage you to view the webinar recordings and resources available on the Young Innovators programme page before you make your application.

When you start an application you will be asked to create an account on the Innovation Funding Service. You will need an account to submit your application and track its progress. Some mandatory fields in the Innovation Funding Service system will ask you to select if you are a business as part of your application. Please select business and enter your home address including your postcode.

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A judging panel will assess the quality of your application. We will then select a portfolio of award winners who:

  • have high potential to be future leaders in innovation or successful entrepreneurs
  • are most likely to benefit from the package of support on offer
  • are working on a diverse range of innovative ideas for business
  • are located in areas across the UK

Subject to meeting the quality threshold, we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to achieve the correct balance of awards.

As the applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • committing to engage fully with the package of support provided with the award if your application is successful

If you need more information about how to apply email or call 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 11.30am and 2pm and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

What we ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions, including your video pitch.

1. Project details

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

Application details

Give your application a title.

For the project start date, please enter 1 December 2020.

For the project duration, please enter 12 months.

Project summary

Describe your business idea briefly.

Do you have a business? Please type yes or no.

Your answer can be up to 150 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers for questions 3, 4 and 5 and you will need to complete all questions to submit your application. You will be notified of your success via the Innovation Funding Service and will receive feedback on your application.

Question 1: Equality, diversity and inclusion survey

To deliver on Innovate UK’s commitment to address under-representation in business innovation and foster equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across all our activities we need to collect and report on EDI data.

Completion of this EDI survey is a requirement for all applicants to our competitions.

The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status and you will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Please confirm that you have completed the survey before you submit your application: Type “EDI survey completed” as your answer

Question 2: About you

We would like you to explain how you and your business idea are eligible and in scope for the Young Innovators Awards. This is not scored. In your response, please use question numbers 1 to 7 to answer the following:

  1. Confirm that you are able to commit 2 days a week, or 15 hours spread over a week, to working on the award from December 2020 for 12 months. Please type ‘1’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and explain your answer. If no, tell us how much time you could commit to the award each week.
  2. Confirm that you are able to commit 4 days over the duration of the award to activities related to being a role model. Please type ‘2’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer.
  3. Tell us if you are currently receiving business support in any other form including from the Prince’s Trust? Please type ‘3’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer. If yes, please give us details on the support
  4. Are you currently unemployed or working less than 35 hours on average per week? Please type ‘4’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer
  5. Are you currently studying for less than 14 hours per week? Please type ‘5’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer
  6. Please tell us your age (DD/MM/YYYY)

7.Did you attend any of the Young Innovators webinars? Please type ‘7’ and either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 3: What is your value proposition?

A value proposition is a short, powerful statement that explains why the customer should buy from you. It is the kind of claim that you see on the home page of a website.

It can include:

  • what problem your product or service solves
  • the benefits the customer can expect when they buy from you
  • why the customer should buy from you rather than from competitors

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 4: What are your ‘wow factors’?

Identify up to 5 customer experience steps. These are points at which customers come into contact with your product or service.

Provide a ‘wow factor’ for each customer experience step. Explain what you will do that is unique or better than your competitors and how you will exceed customer expectations.

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 5: What is your game plan?

Describe the most important steps (up to 5) that you need to take in the 12 months’ duration of the project to turn your idea for business into a reality.

For each step identify the areas where you think you need the most support to make a success of your business idea.

The Young Innovators Award includes, but is not limited to:

  • tailored business support including media and communications i.e. branding, business planning strategy, confidence, growing your networks, funding and finance options i.e. introductions to investors and pitch training, financial planning and more
  • a living allowance for 2 days (15 hours) per week throughout the duration of the award
  • a £5,000 grant to cover project costs e.g. travel to meet customers/partners, attending relevant training courses, equipment, hiring office space and IT support

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 6. Video pitch

Please upload a video to YouTube or Vimeo. It can be up to 3 minutes long. Give the private link and any required passwords in your answer to this question.

In your video we would like you to:

  1. Introduce yourself and your business idea
  2. Explain how you came up with your idea
  3. Explain why you think it is a good idea for business, including:
  • what problem it will solve
  • why it is better than, or different from, what exists
  • what the wider benefits are to society, the environment and the economy
4. Describe work that you have carried out already to develop your idea.
5. What difference will this award make to you personally.

6. Where do you hope to be in 5 to 10 years?

7. Explain how you feel about becoming a role model for other young innovators.

8. Include any additional information about you and your idea that will help to strengthen your application.

Question 7. De Minimis declaration

Please download the de minimis declaration template. You must complete this declaring any other de minimis aid received during the current and previous 2 financial years. You must keep all documentation relating to this and other de minimis awards for a period of 10 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body that requests it. Please upload the completed declaration form to this question as a PDF.

Type “declaration attached” as your answer.

Background and further information

Young Innovators 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 champion. We expect your action plan to be agreed at the first bootcamp.

If you need more information about how to apply, email or call 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 11.30am and 2pm and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Innovate UK is committed to making the support we have accessible to all. We can provide assistance to applicants that face barriers in making an application (for example, as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or any other accessibility issue). If you need additional support, it is important that you contact us as early as possible so we can discuss your needs and work together on a solution.

Extra help

If you want further information about making your application, you can view the following webinars and resources delivered by the Knowledge Transfer Network here.

Enterprise Europe Network

Upon award, you will be allocated an Innovation Champion from the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), acting on behalf of Innovate UK, who will offer bespoke business support to help maximise your project and business potential. It will be a requirement that you engage with your EEN Innovation Champion throughout your project.

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