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Sometimes grant funding can seem like a confusing option but if you are SME working on an innovative R&D project, the choice of funding programme could not be simpler. Start your search with the Smart programme managed by Innovate UK.
Smart is a SME-specific national grant that is very flexible, meaning that many different projects can be eligible. You can apply as a single applicant so avoiding the need to identify and work with collaborative research partners. As Smart is a ‘bottom-up’ scheme, any area of technology could be supported provided that it offers a clear level of innovation, is targeted towards a market need and is based around a defined package of research with a management team capable of delivery.
Smart funding covers all stages of research maturity from Proof of Market (to assess commercial viability), Proof of Concept (to explore the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a new technology, product or process) or Development of Prototype (to develop a technologically innovative product, service or industrial process). Up to £250k is available per project depending on its maturity. Projects are typically 9- 24 months in duration.
Another benefit of Smart is that it is an ongoing scheme with deadlines every two months and an evaluation process that lasts just 4 weeks – great if you are looking to start the research quickly.
The next deadline for Smart is 26th March 2015. If you are interested in putting a bid together
do give consideration to the real need for the technology, how it moves beyond current comparable offers, how you expect to take this innovation to market and how you will break your research activities down into distinct packages of work. Risk is also important so give some thought to the key challenges that you could encounter both within the research activity and in future commercialisation, by defining an appropriate mitigation strategy. Few grants are 100% so you will also need to consider how you will match-fund any contribution made by Innovate UK.
In our experience the receipt of Smart support is also an ideal platform for the pursuit of further grant funding at both a national and EU level as well as raising private finance because an investor would compare your business against similar criteria to a grant body. Most importantly, Smart funding can be vital to developing a successful, commercial product, process or service. Further information can be found at https://interact.innovateuk.org/ or PNO’s Smart information page.
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