How to write an excellent Innovate UK Smart Grant application

To secure up to £2 million for your disruptive project, your project needs to be clearly defined in an application to Innovate UK.

To check whether your project is eligible for this grant, have a look at our previous blog post: Can you apply to Innovate UK Smart?

A winning application takes time, planning and continuous improvement until the deadline.

Here are some top tips to help you write the best application for your innovation project.

✓ First, define your project and how you will implement it:

  • How long is the project likely to last? (min. 6 months, beware if above 18 months!)

  • Which steps are necessary to complete your project?

  • What are the key tasks involved? How long will they take? How much will they cost?

  • Do you need any resources to complete the project? (e.g. software, hardware)

  • Do you have the key skills onboard or do you require additional expertise to complete the project (Hire new staff or subcontract a third-party)? How much will this cost?

✓ Secondly, as a team, consider these finer questions:


  • Why a public grant? Why can't you fund your project with private finance?

  • How is the project going to be financed? (i.e. how will the grant be match-funded)


  • What value are you creating for the UK and the average taxpayer?

  • How many jobs are you creating in the UK during the project? As a result?


  • Will the result of the project create a whole new market? Or disrupt an existing one?

  • How large is your target market? (Support your claim with sourced data!)

  • How much of it can you obtain within 3 years after your project completion?


  • Who will be your customers?

  • What is your route to market?

  • How will your company benefit from the project outcome? (Revenue, know-how, R&D processes, etc.)


  • What is transformative about your project compared to existing solutions?

  • What will be the impact of the project on the business? (Quantified projected sales, turnover, ROI)

  • What are the positive and negative impacts of the innovation on the UK and worldwide? (Social, economic, environmental)

✓ Consider what can go wrong:

This is important and often underestimated. You need to demonstrate that you have thought about potential drawbacks:

  • What risks may your project encounter? (financial, managerial, commercial, stakeholder, technical...) ; how will you reduce their impact?

✓ You are now ready to draft an application!

The experts reviewing your application will most likely assess it in a very short amount of time. Therefore, you should write your application as an engaging, bold, coherent story.

You want your application to stand out and be remembered.

  1. Cover all bases: ensure no stone is left unturned by systematically answering to each point of the application guidelines.

  2. Provide as much data as possible to justify and quantify your arguments, and support them by quoting their sources.

  3. Make good use of the appendices allowed by adding visuals (flow charts, images, tables, etc.), especially when explaining the approach.

Remember to keep your writing bold and concise – this will allow the reviewers to remain focused and to quickly obtain the information they need!

What DRIAD can do for you:

We can check that your application ticks all the boxes.

More importantly, we can write the entire application for you.

© 2020 - DRIAD

Driad is registered in England and Wales as a Limited Company, No 9086760

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