What are the recent changes?
The government has already published the grant funding changes for 2016-17, under the auspices of ‘Innovate UK’. The driving aim is stated as ‘simplification’ and is an entirely new system, erasing the previous SMART scheme. The main difference to the new Innovate UK is the emphasis on businesses working together.
The SMART scheme you are familiar with allowed applications for match-funding up to £250,000 to be spent on your own business’s research and development projects. You might be familiar with the catchy sub-titles ‘Feasibility Studies and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships’ or ‘Collaborative R and D’.
Innovate UK stipulates that businesses can now only apply for match-funding up to the value of £100K for independent R and D projects. In order to qualify for a grant of up to £250,000, the project must involve working with another business partner. This is a massive change and is designed to “support and stimulate innovation in the UK economy”.
The qualifying R and D categories are, straight from the horse mouth (ie: Gov.UK):
- fundamental research
- industrial research
- experimental development
- feasibility studies
The next available grant competitions are from one of the following, government determined categories:
- emerging and enabling technologies
- infrastructure systems
- health and life sciences
- manufacturing and materials
There is also an ‘Open’ option for any industry sector or technology to apply for an R and D grant.
Inevitably, the introduction of new regulations increases the complexity of the application process – frustrating to those of you who have put in the hours getting your head around the SMART schemes.
Basically there are now two possible application systems to apply through, which depend on the length and cost of your project:
- Projects lasting between 1 and 3 years and with a cost of £2m (maximum)
- Projects lasting no longer than 12 months and costing no more than £100K.