Horizon SciTech — Innovation, strategy and funding for technology businesses

Tagfunding

Funding strategies : Innovation grants

Photo by Leo Cardelli from Pexels

Funding strategies are crucial to businesses and organisations who want to innovate. Projects aimed at bringing new and novel products and services to market are expensive. Research and development (R&D) is a costly activity requiring additional resources.

The funding strategies we are talking about are not general ones. Raising finance is an issue for nearly all business at one time or another, but financing R&D activity has very specific challenges that are worth considering in their own right.

It’s first worth thinking about the reasons for needing the funding. Ask the question: Why do we need this funding? It could be that (1) funding from revenues is a preferred way but we need to consider other options, (2) funding things like trials or new production methods is too costly to do without additional funding or (3) it’s necessary to test the market with a campaign or other promotional activities. Any number of other reasons are valid.

The reasons point towards different options for raising the funding. Innovation grants often will not pay for marketing activities for example. The means they can’t be used for option (3) but a crowdfunding campaign might be a good alternative. Grants are always popular but do have drawbacks. They often only part fund R&D projects meaning it’s necessary to find other ways to fund the balance. Grants also have strict rules in some cases. These rules can be too limiting for certain projects. Innovation loans are a popular alternative with qualifying businesses because they offer very attractive terms and are designed to help bring innovations to market successfully.

As we’re talking about funding R&D projects predominantly, it’s important to consider the project itself in context. Is this an early stage feasibility round or later stage proof of concept? It can be helpful to look at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) to understand the stage of development and align this to a funding stage. Here is an EU H2020 description of TRLs and here is guidance on funding stages from Innovate UK. It should be possible to work out the TRL and decide where it fits in terms of funding stage or research category. Most rounds have a defined scope which fits one of these stages or categories.

Further reading

Innovation grants are offered to UK SMEs, research organisations and NHS trusts by Innovate UK – Innovate UK grants

The EU also offers an innovation grants programme for SME consortia. It is important to note you cannot apply to this programme as a single entity. It is for collaborative projects – Horizon 2020 Fast Track to innovation

Specifically in health technology innovation, the SBRI Health programme runs themed calls for early and late stage projects – SBRI Health

Need more help?

Contact us below if you are looking for more help or guidance. We are experienced and knowledgable on all of the above grant schemes.