UK R&D Grant Funding


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

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.

As the UK strives to compete in an ever-globalising world economy, there is now a selection of funding programmes available to technology companies seeking to engage in the development of innovative and pioneering products.

However, with the government undertaking a fundamental reappraisal of how it funds business innovation, it is imperative that companies seeking R&D grants are fully aware of the changes taking place. Even then, understanding what particular 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 R&D 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.

MSC R&D is the UK’s leading expert in obtaining research and development grants for technology SMEs, with over 20 years’ experience in supporting grant applications. Our team of highly qualified senior technologists understand the underlying technology of our clients’ businesses, ensuring a focused, informative application that ticks all the boxes.

With the majority of our fees based on results, MSC R&D take the pain and risk out of obtaining grant funding.

Contact us now for a free telephone consultation.

View our latest R&D Grant Funding Newsletter –

For the latest up-to-date list of R&D grants visit:

Innovate UK R&D Grants

Under the Innovate UK ‘simplification’ agenda, details of its first grant funding competition under the new 2016-2017 funding regime were announced in April 2016 with the majority of awards being contingent on applicants partnering with other organisations.

The old SMART scheme has been scrapped in favour of a new programme which consolidates most of the existing matched-funding programmes such as Collaborative R&D, Feasibility Studies and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Innovate UK has established four sector groups that will provide a focus for future grant competitions:

  1. Emerging and enabling technologies  
  2. Health and life sciences 
  3. Infrastructure systems 
  4. Manufacturing and materials 

Unlike the previous SMART grants, where companies were restricted to a maximum grant of £250k, Innovate UK has raised the level of support where project sizes up to £1m (and in certain areas up to £2m) are allowable with % intervention rates shown below. The aim of the new competition is also targeted at stimulating and broadening innovation with the introduction of a collaboration requirement in certain sectors.

The structure of the competitions mean applicants will now be divided into two key streams:

  1. Projects with total eligible project costs of up to £100k and 12 months or less in duration (single applicant or collaborative);
  2. Projects with total eligible project costs over £100k and up to £2m and between 6 and 36 months in duration (collaborative with at least one other partner).

The competition is open to both SMEs and Large Enterprises and the grant intervention rates vary by type of project and size of company (see below).

Business Size

Feasibility Studies

Industrial Research

Experimental Development

Micro (<10emp)




Small (>10<50emp)








Large (>250emp)





It is possible to have work units/packages within a project that span different project types.

Open Calls

In addition to the four sector groups, there will be an ‘Open’ funding programme which will support projects from any technology or sector, ranging from feasibility studies through to experimental development (single applicant or collaborative), and between 6 and 36 months in duration.

The Open Sector Competition Round 4 is now open (11th December 2018) – Closing date is the 28th February 2018

Innovation Loans Pilot

Innovate UK launched its £50m innovation loans pilot scheme on the 8th November 2017

Innovate UK offers loans of between £100,000 and £1 million with the interest rate of 3.7% per annum. Projects should last up to 5 years, of which up to 3 years can focus on research and development (R&D), and up to a further 2 years are available to establish a clear route to commercial success.

Payments are made quarterly in advance and can include capital and revenue expenditure.

Applications will be through competitive bidding situations using existing Innovate UK thematic priorities.

The first competition – Infrastructure Systems – was launched on the 16th November, with a closing date of 17th January 2018.

R&D Grants – The MSC R&D Team Way

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.

Initially we will engage with you to define the grant opportunity. In many cases our clients are very clear on the opportunity, but where there is less clarity we can help through our Innovation Day events.

Once the R&D grant project has been agreed we create a senior client facing team consisting of:

  • Project Manager
  • Market Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Technical Analyst

To deal with the wide variety of technologies encountered in so many applications, MSC R&D selects from a pool of highly qualified senior technologists to match the right expertise to our clients’ requirements.

Our proven ‘Blitz’ methodology involves the team spending two days at our client’s premises gathering all the key information to enable us to make a full application on their behalf.

This ensures the minimal amount of disruption to our clients, safe in the knowledge that your application is being processed both professionally and within the timescales provided by the funder.

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

Case Study – Spend 360