R&D GRANT FUNDING

R&D GRANT FUNDING

R&D Grants exist to be awarded – Are you benefitting?

Am I eligible for R&D Grant funding?

What types of R&D Grant are available?

How do I find the right call?

Do I need partners and how do I find them?

How do I maximise my chances of success?

If you need the answers to one or more of these questions, then you should talk to us!

THE BENEFITS AND PITFALLS OF R&D GRANT FUNDING

Research & Development Grant funding can be a very attractive means of achieving the funding technology SMEs require to extend their technological research or development programmes. It helps to de-risk and speed up the product/service development process and successful bids can also act as fundraising leverage.

There are several UK and EU funding programmes available to technology companies seeking to engage in the development of innovative and pioneering products.

However, understanding what R&D grants are available at a point in time and which is best suited to their needs and then acquiring the expertise and time to successfully address the assessment process, can be very challenging for any company attempting to go it alone.

Grant award criteria are often difficult to define and the difference between success and failure can sometimes feel like a lottery.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR R&D GRANT FUNDING?

Whilst some R&D Grant funding programmes differentiate between SMEs and Large Enterprises and some require collaboration, there are some general questions a company considering applying for a R&D Grant must answer YES to before proceeding.

  • You have a long-term strategy for your technology or business
  • Your project is beyond the state of art with high innovation potential
  • You can demonstrate that your project delivers value for money and clearly benefits from the proposed injection of funds
  • Your business has sufficient funding to invest in the project and continue to trade during the project period
  • Your project will leave a legacy e.g. growing business, increased employment, protected IP etc
  • You can clearly demonstrate the market opportunity and how you plan to exploit it
  • You have a credible team to implement the project

WHICH ARE THE MAIN R&D GRANT FUNDING PROGRAMMES?

Innovate UK open and sector competitions

Recently, Innovate UK operated a sector groups approach to grant competitions, organised – together with an ‘Open’ competition – as:

  • Emerging and Enabling Technologies
  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Infrastructure Systems
  • Manufacturing and Materials

These 4 sector competitions have ended, the emphasis now being on competitions more closely aligned to the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The number of ‘open’ competitions has increased, with one round closing followed a day later by the opening of the next round.

SMEs can work alone or in collaboration with others. For projects lasting 6 to 18 months, total eligible costs must be between £25,000 and £500,000. For projects lasting between 19 to 36 months, total costs must be between £25,000 and £2,000,000 and must be collaborative.

For feasibility studies (which may include market research) and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a small business;
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business;
  • up to 50% if you are a large business.

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a small business;
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business;
  • up to 25% if you are a large business.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF)

The ISCF provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers. As of April 2018, it is managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The 4 Grand Challenges set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy in November 2017 were focused on:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the data driven economy;
  • clean growth via low carbon technologies;
  • the future of mobility, including low-emissions and autonomous vehicles; and
  • an ageing society.

The number of individual ‘challenges’ aligned with these 4 grand challenges now include:

    • From data to early diagnosis and precision medicine;
    • Healthy ageing;
    • Prospering from the energy revolution;
    • Transforming construction;
    • Transforming food production;
    • Next generation services;
    • Audiences of the future;
    • Quantum technologies;
    • Robots for a safer world;
    • Leading-edge healthcare;
    • Faraday battery challenge;
    • Driverless vehicles;
    • Manufacturing and future materials;
    • National Satellite Test Facility;
    • Creative industries clusters.

In February-April 2018, UKRI sought expressions of interest from industry-led consortia to identify the main challenges faced by industry and society in the UK. Funding for shortlisted challenges, focussed on at least one of the 4 grand challenges, will be made available by UKRI through competitions beginning in 2019.

EU R&D funding – Horizon 2020

Running to 2020 with an €80bn budget, Horizon 2020 is the framework under which all research and innovation funding will be managed.

Horizon 2020 R&D grants help innovative enterprises to develop their technological breakthroughs into viable products with real commercial potential. International cooperation is an important priority, and collaborative grants gained under Horizon 2020 can be significant in value.

SMEs can participate in the collaborative funding opportunities within the Leadership in Enabling & Industrial Technologies (LEIT) and Societal Challenges schemes, and in the dedicated SME Instrument scheme.

Collaborative Funding Schemes

Collaborative funding opportunities are set out in multi-year work programmes with pre-determined thematic calls.

Projects require a SME to be part of a consortium, with a minimum of three partners from different countries.

There are two main types of project, with different funding rates:

Research & Innovation Action (RIA): Projects to establish new knowledge and/or explore the feasibility of a new or improved technology, process, service or solution. The funding rate is 100%, with project funding on average c€4.9m.

Innovation Action (IA): Projects directly aimed at producing plans or designs for new or improved products, processes or services. The funding rate is 70%, with project funding on average c€5.2m.

The SME instrument:

SME Instrument projects are for single SMEs, although it is possible to collaborate.

It is targeted at innovative SMEs showing a strong ambition to develop, grow and internationalise and covers all fields of science, technology and innovation in a bottom-up approach within a given societal challenge or enabling industrial technology. This is designed to leave sufficient room for all kinds of promising ideas, notably cross-sector and inter-disciplinary projects, to be funded.

Funding is available for two phases of a project:

Phase 1: Concept and production of a technical and € commercial feasibility assessment, including a business plan, for a breakthrough innovation. Lump sum funding is provided of €50,000.

Phase 2: Projects aimed at bringing innovation projects to investment readiness and maturity for market take-up, underpinned by a strong business plan. The funding rate is 70% with a maximum project value of €2.5m

For more information about Horizon 2020, visit our dedicated Guide to Horizon 2020. Here you will find advice to guide you through the process of assessing eligibility, finding calls and applying, plus a library of resources that will help you understand the programme, and ultimately make the relevant funding decision based on the information provided.

Catalyst competitions

Catalyst competitions are run by Innovate UK to support businesses to scale up and innovate, in some cases with an international dimension. The Department for International Development (DFID) has funded two programmes with support from research councils and other department partners. The Agri-tech Catalyst has been co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the Energy Catalyst has been co-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Funding competitions are typically run once a year.The Biomedical Catalyst is funded by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC) (sometimes with co-funding from Scottish Enterprise). The aim is to support the development of innovative healthcare products, technologies and processes, including:

  • disease prevention and proactive management of health and chronic conditions;
  • earlier and better detection and diagnosis of disease, leading to better patient outcomes;
  • tailored treatments that either change the underlying disease or offer potential cures.

The Biomedical Catalyst has 4 types of funding award for SMEs working on their own or with other partners. These are: feasibility, primer, early stage and late stage. The scheme supports progression from initial concept through to late stage development.

For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small business;
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business.

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small business;
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business.

Total project costs for feasibility studies range in size up to £200,000, and these projects should last no longer than 12 months.

Primer stage projects range in size from £200,000 to £1.5 million, and should last 12 to 24 months.

Early stage projects range between £250,000 and £4 million, and should last between 12 and 36 months.

Late stage projects range in size from £200,000 to £4 million, with projects lasting 12 to 36 months.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The SBRI programme brings together public-sector bodies which can identify specific problems, with the businesses, often SMEs, which can provide innovative solutions to those challenges. SBRI operates under the EU Pre-Commercial Procurement Framework. Fully funded R&D contracts are issued to businesses offering the most promising solutions.Generally, there are 2 phases to the competition:

  • Phase 1: Proposals focus on proving the scientific, technical and commercial feasibility of the project. Typically, up to 5 projects are funded, each with R&D contracts worth £30,000 to £100,000, including VAT, lasting for up to 6 months. The results of phase 1 determine whether the project should continue to phase 2.
  • Phase 2: prototype development, testing and evaluation. Typically, this 2nd phase involves up to 2 R&D contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful 1st phase applicants, each getting up to £150,000 to £1 million, for delivery within 12 months to 2 years.

Businesses may work on their own or work with others as subcontractors but need to show that they have a route to market for their product or service.

Generally, businesses are able to keep their intellectual property, and are free to develop and sell their innovations in other markets.

More than 80 government organisations have taken part in the scheme, including Innovate UK, Ministry of Defence, NHS and former Department for Health, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and its predecessors, Home Office, UK Space Agency, and Department for Transport.

GovTech Fund

A £20 million GovTech Fund is available from 2018-19 to 2020-21. Overseen by the GovTech Catalyst team, it supports public sector bodies to meet the costs of issuing competitions to the tech market, while also supporting R&D on a match-funded basis. Public bodies – such as the NHS and local councils – will be helped to identify challenges they face that could be solved by digital technologies. Tech firms that bid to this fund, if successful in their applications, will receive funding to cover their R&D costs to enable them to create innovative solutions. The public sector body can then buy the finalised products created by this process from the tech company.

EUREKA Eurostars

Research-performing SMEs who want to take part in collaborative research in Europe to develop new products, processes or services can apply for funding under Eurostars. The market-driven approach supports projects that can go to market 2 years after the project finishes. Eurostars projects must have a civilian purpose.There are 2 calls for proposals every year until 2020. Consortia must include at least two partners independent from each other and established in at least two different Eurostars countries.

Eurostars countries include EU member states, as well as Canada, Iceland, Israel, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland and Turkey.

Awards are up to €360,000 funding for each UK project partner or 60% of eligible project costs, whichever is the least. Projects can last up to 36 months.

Typically, 10 to 15 projects are funded per round, involving 3-4 participants from 2-3 countries.

Newton Fund

Innovate UK is one of 15 UK delivery partners of the Newton Fund, which develops science and innovation partnerships between the UK and 18 partner countries eligible to receive the UK government’s Official Development Assistance. The Newton Fund was launched in 2014, and has a total UK investment of £735 million to 2021. Partner countries provide matched resources within the fund.Partnering countries include: Brazil; Chile; China; Colombia; Egypt; India; Indonesia; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Malaysia; Mexico; Peru; Philippines; South Africa; Thailand; Turkey; Vietnam

Calls will be announced throughout the life of the Fund. In 2017, Newton Fund projects open to UK businesses had total costs ranging from £300,000 to £2 million in the UK and lasted between 24 months and 36 months.

WHY CHOOSE MSC R&D?

MSC R&D’s unrivalled experience in R&D grant funding, and extensive network of contacts, means that we are ideally placed to guide you through the process of matching innovation opportunities to available grants, and subsequently successfully applying for the chosen grant or grants.

Our approach, implemented by experienced proven teams and our ‘fast track blitz’ process and methodologies, minimises your time commitments, and maximises your chances of success.

Our services are flexible, providing as little or as much input as you require.

The consistent levels of success achieved by MSC R&D’s approach to R&D grant funding means the majority of our fees are Paid-on-Results, providing peace of mind for our clients.

Track Record

Over 500 successful R&D Grant submissions

Grant Process Expertise

All members of our team are regularly trained by experts in the various grant application programmes and understand what ‘excellence’ means

Talking your language

Our teams of experienced technical, financial and commercial specialists can drill deep into a client’s business and ask the right questions

Speed

Our ‘Fast-Track Blitz’ processes can help you prepare and submit applications within the optimum time scales

Flexibility

Our range of services can be tailored to meet your requirements

Minimum client impact

Our team approach and our proven ‘Fast-Track Blitz’ methodology ensures the minimal amount of disruption to our clients, safe in the knowledge that their application is being processed professionally and within the allowed timescales

Minimised Financial Risk

The majority of our services have a significant ‘Paid-on-Results’ element, and all projects undertake a rigorous pre-qualification process.

Quality Assurance

We are ISO9001 accredited and European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Committed to Excellence (C2E) 2 Star Certificate – with detailed proven processes and quality management.

Additional R&D Funding Services

We are specialists in R&D funding and commercialisation, offering a wide range of services including R&D Tax Relief.

OUR SERVICES

We provide a range of R&D Grant funding services, to meet the requirements of our clients. These include:

  • Innovation Days (an essential pre-qualification exercise in many cases)
  • Identification of appropriate call/topic
  • Insights on UK/EU processes
  • Partner search
  • Bid writing
  • Bid evaluation
  • Market Intelligence reports
  • Audit compliance
  • Training on how to manage the complex EU administration requirements
  • Commercialisation of the project output (link to commercialisation)

What should I do next?

A list of funding competitions open to SMEs in the UK is available on our MSC R&D Funding Update page.

If you have a specific R&D grant in mind and are seeking assistance in applying for it, then contact us now for an initial discussion.

If you are seeking help is assessing whether you are eligible for R&D grant funding and, if so, what grants might be appropriate for you, then please download our initial grant pre-qualification questionnaire and email it to: businessdevelopment@mscbdg.co.uk.

This process will enable us to provide you with the best advice.

 

“The MSC R&D team helped us put a great proposal together. Besides the obvious benefit of the funding, we also developed a deep working relationship with a group of industry leaders. Furthermore the project turned out to be a fantastic success – a year after the end of the project we have gone to market with a transformational proposition.”
Noel Duffy, Managing Director Dolphin Computer Access Ltd

 

The benefits and pitfalls of R&D Grant funding

Research & Development Grant funding can be a very attractive means of achieving the funding technology SMEs require to extend their technological research or development programmes. It helps to de-risk and speed up the product/service development process and successful bids can also act as fundraising leverage.

There are several UK and EU funding programmes available to technology companies seeking to engage in the development of innovative and pioneering products.

However, understanding what R&D grants are available at a point in time and which is best suited to their needs and then acquiring the expertise and time to successfully address the assessment process, can be very challenging for any company attempting to go it alone.

Grant award criteria are often difficult to define and the difference between success and failure can sometimes feel like a lottery.

Am I eligible for R&D Grant funding?

Whilst some R&D Grant funding programmes differentiate between SMEs and Large Enterprises and some require collaboration, there are some general questions a company considering applying for a R&D Grant must answer YES to before proceeding.

  • You have a long-term strategy for your technology or business
  • Your project is beyond the state of art with high innovation potential
  • You can demonstrate that your project delivers value for money and clearly benefits from the proposed injection of funds
  • Your business has sufficient funding to invest in the project and continue to trade during the project period
  • Your project will leave a legacy e.g. growing business, increased employment, protected IP etc
  • You can clearly demonstrate the market opportunity and how you plan to exploit it
  • You have a credible team to implement the project