By now, every area of the economy has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The British Government’s response has quickly provided unprecedented measures to support businesses and protect employment in these difficult times.
Many businesses are benefitting from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Job Retention Scheme and other grants and financing options provided by the Government. However, early stage start-ups have been feeling left behind, as they don’t meet the criteria to access. government-backed funding. A group of Founders and investors have launched SOS (Save Our Startups), an Open Letter to the Government asking for greater support to early-stage innovative companies.
One of the first signals of the Government being keen to provide support to innovative ventures came last Friday from Innovate UK, which announced £20m of grants available to companies that use innovation to fulfil “emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The competition, closing at 12pm Friday 17 April 2020, aims to fund those companies that use innovation to meet the needs created by the coronavirus emergency. These are not limited to health and safety, but include sectors such as education, entertainment, financial services, food and beverages, remote working, sport and wellbeing, basically encompassing all the areas hit by the pandemic.
Applicants can claim 100% of their project costs, as long as these are between £25,000 and £50,000. Innovate UK will also monitor projects during development and implementation “with a view to providing follow-on funding and support for those with the most potential.” Note that Innovate UK grants count as de minimis state aid.
Provided that you meet de minimis eligibility requirements and that you haven’t had any issues with Innovate UK funding previously, your application will be scored on 4 criteria carrying equal points:
- The Idea: What is the problem you wish to solve, who is it a problem for, and what is innovative about the approach or technology?
- Deliverables and added value: What will be the specific outputs and outcomes of your project, how will society benefit, and why do you need public funding to help you succeed?
- Business planning and resources: Who is the project team, what is your capability to deliver a solution, and what other support might you need?
- Workplan and costs: What you will do with the grant funding and, how will you manage the project effectively, and manage risks appropriately?
Now more than ever, Innovate UK grants could be the ideal funding option for your company, especially if you think that your product or service would solve one of the many issues that our community is facing during this emergency. You have less than two weeks to apply!