Innovate UK

Innovate UK makes £10m available to SMEs

Up to £10m is available in loans to UK SMEs via a pilot programme being offered by Innovate UK.

SMEs working on late-stage infrastructure systems projects can apply for a share of £10m in the pilot loans competition.

This will be the first opportunity for businesses to access Innovate UK’s new alternative finance support scheme.

The loans competition is aiming to help businesses overcome barriers to scaling up innovation in infrastructure systems and will look to do this by enabling them to demonstrate that their ideas work as expected in real-world applications with users.

This is the first time that Innovate UK has run a loan competition.

Demonstrator projects must be in one of Innovate UK’s priority areas, which are:

  • smart infrastructure – adding intelligence to improve physical infrastructure or the design process
  • urban living – addressing the challenges people face in urban areas in order to improve user experience and lower costs. This could be:
    • ‘hard’ systems – such as energy, transport, waste, water and communication
    • ‘soft’ systems – such as security, law and justice (for example, public order and safety), health, wellbeing, social care and education
    • ‘environmental’ systems – such as green spaces and waterways
  • energy supply and systems – specifically improving the value proposition, affordability, emissions and security of energy
  • connected transport – looking at solutions that move people and goods more efficiently and sustainably, and make transport more secure, user-centric and accessible.

“Innovations need different types of funding support depending on how close they are to market,” said Innovate UK.

“Getting the right funding at the right time can scale up businesses’ productivity and growth.

“We believe that a patient, flexible loan scheme will be useful for innovations that are near to market, where there is less risk involved.”

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