We highlighted the UK Government’s plans to support smaller and medium sized innovative businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak through its existing funding body, Innovate UK, in an earlier article. This scheme aims to support smaller or earlier stage innovative businesses and forms part of a wider package with the Future Fund offering discussed here. Details of how businesses can access the Innovate UK scheme have now been provided. Several different kinds of support are available.
Continuity grants – applications must be made by 29 May 2020
Existing Innovate UK award holders who are at risk of abandoning their projects can access additional support. These grants are for eligible organisations with a funding gap between £25,000 and £250,000. The application must be made promptly and evidence of why the funding is necessary will be required. The scheme is capped at £90 million.
Continuity loans – open for applications until 31 December 2020, or earlier if the allocated funds are used up
Existing award holders facing a challenge in continuing a live project can apply for £250,000 to £1,600,000. A detailed application survey must be completed, and Innovate UK will assess eligibility based on the quality of the ongoing project, satisfactory progress in the project and suitability to receive a loan. The amount available for this scheme is £210 million, and loans are repayable over a maximum of five years.
Grants for new projects
“Fast start” grants are on offer for businesses that are not currently holders of Innovate UK awards. These are accessible to businesses that have already been awarded COVID-19 fast start funding and are in need of follow-on funding. This funding will be subject to Innovate UK’s innovation assessment process.
Business advice and support
Existing Innovate UK award holders and other businesses can access tailored packages of advisory support services. Up to 8 days of focused business adviser time over a 6-12 month period will be on offer for innovative SMEs to enable them to survive and move beyond the current crisis.