Grants, loans and support for innovative businesses

Support includes loans for innovative firms in difficulty due to COVID-19; £5,000 grants and a living allowance for young entrepreneurs; funding to help green start-ups commercialise clean technology; and funding for R&D projects.

Future Fund launches with loans for innovative businesses

The Future Fund provides loans to innovative UK-based companies that are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The loans range from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to eligibility and a match-funding element.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

The scheme is initially open for applications until the end of September 2020.

Read more information on the Future Fund here.

For more details on the eligibility criteria and application process, read this document.

Funding to help businesses recover

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £10 million to help UK businesses and the public sector recover from COVID-19 in a sustainable manner.

As part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund, Innovate UK will fund organisations to develop and demonstrate new products or services. Your solution must help businesses and/or the public sector in the UK recover from the COVID 19 pandemic in a sustainable manner, demonstrating the impact and potential of a clean growth led recovery and transition to net zero.

The deadline for the first phase of this scheme is 11am on 5th August 2020.

Read more about this funding here.

Young Innovators Awards 2020/21

People aged 18-30 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.

Innovate UK is working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to run the Young Innovators Awards, which aims 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

Applications closes at 11am on Wednesday 2nd September 2020.

Learn more about the Young Innovators Awards here.

Investment support for the creative sector

Creative England has launched its second iteration of Creative Enterprise: Evolve. This is part of Creative Enterprise, which aims to bring together content-makers spanning film and television, videogames, animation and VFX and supporting tech platforms.

Designed by investors and in partnership with the BFI and UK Business Angels Association, Evolve is a unique 6-month programme which prepares screen companies for investment and connects them to investors.

Applications close on Monday 24th August 2020. The programme is planned to start in September 2020.

For more information, visit the Creative Enterprise: Evolve webpage.

Sustainable Innovation Fund

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £26 million for new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19.

Proposals must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of COVID-19, and how your project can help solve them.

You must consider your proposal’s impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability.

Projects could also focus on:

  • decarbonisation, circular economy and/or biodiversity
  • climate change and environmental sustainability
  • geographic or regionally-targeted innovation
  • innovation that is aimed at commercial or residential users
  • innovations that work across more than one sector
  • follow-on international opportunities that help the UK lead the world

The deadline for the scheme is 11am on Wednesday 2nd September 2020.

Read more information and how to apply to the Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The funding comes from Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of The Sustainable Innovation Fund.

Clean Growth Fund to support green start-ups

The Clean Growth Fund aims to speed up the deployment of innovative clean technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by making direct investments in companies seeking to commercialise promising technologies.

Read more information here.

Search for live funding competitions

Search for live Innovate UK competitions online.

Continuity loans for Innovate UK award holders

Up to £210 million is available in continuity loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they have an award from Innovate UK.

Loans are for organisations that find themselves facing a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This innovation continuity loan may be suitable if you need funding of between £250,000 and £1,600,000.

Continuity loans will be open for applications until all the money is allocated or 31st December 2020 - whichever is earlier.

Read more information here.

Check if further support is available

Innovate UK has developed a range of options for supporting its existing customers with current projects through the impacts of the pandemic, including:

  • Timing extensions
  • Monthly grant payments
  • Innovation and Growth Adviser support

See what support you could benefit from here.

More support and funding for innovative businesses 

Visit the 'support and funding for innovative businesses' section of our COVID-19 business support hub for the latest opportunities.

Innovate UK update during COVID-19 outbreak

Read an update on Innovate UK’s operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, and what to do if you have an Innovate UK award.

Stay informed of the latest business support re COVID-19

Remember to visit our COVID-19 business support hub for the latest support and information from the government, business support organisations and other avenues of support. Bookmark so you can easily find it in the future.

Business community ambassadors