With Round 1 of Innovate UK’s (IUK) Sustainable Innovation Fund closing in late July and Round 2 (based on the de minimis framework) opening within the same period, it was a busy month within the grant funding space.
Take advantage of briefings and Q&A opportunities
I always try to attend IUK webcast briefings and Q&A sessions if they are offered, even if I have joined briefings on previous rounds of the same funding call. Though there are repetitions of questions from potential applicants, you can often gain intelligence that will stand you in good stead for doing the most important thing right – answering the questions!
Whilst repetition occurs, there will always be questions from other potential applicants that you have not thought of yourself. This indirectly collaborative element of the briefings provides a high level of value to those that afford the time to attend them. If you are thinking of applying to IUK, check the key dates of your chosen funding call and register yourself for these events. You might think it’s overkill but if you draw out just one point that is not covered in the general briefing documentation, you’ve got your money’s worth.
Keep in mind
Some of the key points that came up during the Sustainable Innovation Round 2 (de minimis) briefing and the Q&A are detailed below.
Subcontractors: Subcontractors are permitted, often with (but not always) a cap of 30% of total project costs). Given the current economic climate, job creation within the UK is highly important. If for any reason you are considering a non-UK subcontractor, the argument that you “reserve the right to find the best talent at the least cost” may no longer cut it with assessors.
Sustainable innovation: We are living in time where the interplay between society, economy and the environment is more important than ever. Detailed consideration needs to be given to whether your innovation could help to improve people’s lives; deliver new products, services and jobs and drive the UK towards achieving its 2050 target of achieving net-zero emissions. This does not have to be exhausting - if you have 15 minutes to spare, check out this IUK blog on its Horizons tool, which is a great evidence based guide to navigating these points and strengthening your application.
Know your value chain: Understanding the composition of your value chain is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of your target market(s). Clearly, understanding the positive and negative impacts on revenues across the value chain is useful but you can go further than that if you want, considering environmental and societal stakeholders too.
COVID-19: The way you evidence the impact of COVID-19 on your own sector, your target sector(s) or your business is critical. The important thing to remember is that the impact can be negative but can also be positive (a new market that has emerged as a result, for example).
Narrative: Be sure to develop a clear and evidenced narrative of the magnitude of the problem that your innovation will solve. If you fail to demonstrate this correctly, the other parts of your proposal, no matter how well authored they are, will fall apart.