UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

Opportunity Details

When

Registration Opens

27/06/2024

Registration Closes

28/08/2024

Award

Loans can be between £100,000 and £2 million. You can get a loan of up to 100% of your eligible project costs.

Organisation

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Innovate UK innovation loans are for highly innovative late stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. There must be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Your project must lead to innovative 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.

Your project must focus on one or more of the future economy areas included in the Innovate UK plan for action.

You must be able to show that you:

  • need public funding
  • can cover interest payments
  • will be able to repay the loan on time

Who can apply?

To receive an innovation loan for a new project you must:

  • be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • carry out your project from or in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan

Individuals, large companies, not for profits, charities, academic institutions, and research organisations are not eligible for innovation loans.

Only single businesses can receive loans, so collaboration with other organisations cannot be funded in this competition.

We encourage innovation involving communities that are typically under-represented including:

  • from regions that have historically accessed lower levels of investment (outside London, Oxford and Cambridge)
  • ethnic minority groups
  • women and other marginalised genders
  • disabled people
  • people with non-traditional education backgrounds
APPLY HERE

Eligible projects

You can apply for a loan of between £100,000 and £2 million to fund your project’s eligible costs.

Projects can last up to 5 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by 1 April 2025. Your exact project start date and first innovation loan drawdown will depend on the timing of the final credit committee decision and completion of loan documentation.

Future innovation loan rounds in 2024

The funding available will be allocated across a series of competitions with the next round opening on the day the previous round closes:

  • round 16 (this round) will open on 27 June 2024 and will close on 21 August 2024
  • round 17 will open on 22 August 2024 and will close on 2 October 2024
  • round 18 will open on 3 October 2024 and will close on 3 December 2024
  • round 19 will open on 3 December 2024 and will close on 29 January 2025

Scope

This competition offers loans to help businesses overcome barriers to their innovations becoming a successful, commercial reality. The aim is to make a considerable economic impact which results in significant, sustainable business growth.

Innovate UK is looking for businesses who can demonstrate that their projects have the best potential for the future

Your idea must lead to innovative 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.

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clearly expressed and compelling innovative idea
  • a robust and deliverable business plan that addresses and shows evidence of market potential and needs
  • a team with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time, and take the outputs forward
  • awareness of all the main risks the project and business will face, with realistic plans to manage, mitigate and minimise the impact of each of these
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money and ability to repay the loan
  • why you are unable to fund the project from your own resources or other forms of public or private sector funding
  • a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion

Your project can include:

  • prototyping
  • demonstrating
  • piloting
  • testing
  • validation

These can be in environments that represent real life operating conditions.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes or sub-themes:

Net Zero

  • energy
  • impact of industrial processes and use of materials
  • agriculture and food and other sources of emissions
  • capital intensity

Health and wellbeing

  • tackling ill health
  • enhancing wellbeing
  • diet and food

Next generation digital technologies

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

Resources

URKI, Innovate UK and Innovate UK Business Connect have produced financial submission guidance and a guide to a Good Project Application: click here to view the available resources, including video briefings, blogs and advice.

An application for an innovation loans competition needs different information from one for a grant application. Even if you have applied for funding from Innovate UK before, you are strongly advised to read the innovation loans guidance before you start.

Briefings and support

Financial Submission guidance and guide to a Good Project Application: access the resources website, including briefing recordings from previous rounds.

An applicant briefing for round 16 will be held on Tuesday 9 July, 2-3.30pm: click here to register for a place.

An applicant briefing for round 15 was held on Tuesday 14 May: click here to view the recording.

Applicants in round 16 will also have the opportunity to join an online financial submission ‘deep dive’ workshop: see below for details. Click here to register for the deep dive workshops (sign up for one of: 17 July, 23 July or 31 July, all running 2-3.30pm).

Deep dive workshops

These workshops will not repeat the information provided in the applicant briefing webinar (which provides an overview of the future economy innovation loans programme and detailed information about the application process) or in the recorded financial submission webinar (which focuses on the mechanics of completion of the business and financial submission, especially the mandatory financial spreadsheet). We expect all participants at the ‘deep dive’ workshops to have already reviewed the content of these webinars (as well as the recorded webinar on completing a good project application). Please click here to find these recordings. These ‘deep dive’ workshops will replace the ‘credit drop-in’ sessions that we have run in earlier rounds of the programme. These ‘deep dive’ workshops will not be recorded, so that participants can discuss their funding strategies freely.

Prior registration is mandatory for these workshops and applicants will only be permitted to register one participant at one workshop. Since each applicant will only be permitted one participant, we recommend that this should be the Chief Financial Officer or another member of the Board or Senior Leadership team with responsibility for developing the funding strategy for growth through innovation of the business.

  • Deep dive workshop 1: Wednesday 17 July 2.00pm – 3.30pm
  • Deep dive workshop 2: Tuesday 23 July 10.00am – 11.30am
  • Deep dive workshop 3: Wednesday 31 July 2.00pm – 3.30pm

Click here to register for the deep dive workshops.