The Government has announced a new Innovative Funding Service – a loan programme where businesses can apply for a loan of between £100,000 and £2million. But you’ll need to be quick as applications close on 13th April.
The purpose of Innovation Loans is to support micro, small, and medium sized businesses in the UK in carrying out innovative late-stage research and development (R&D) projects. There must be a clear route to commercial success, which will in turn drive productivity and growth.
The scheme offers lending with very flexible repayment terms and will begin with monthly competition rounds. Those applying will need to demonstrate that they have a high quality innovation project, that they are suitable to take on the loan, and that they have been unable to obtain finance from the normal commercial finance routes.
The scheme follows on from a pilot programme that was delivered by Innovate Loans UK from 2017 onwards, and also as part of their Coronavirus support package latterly. That pilot scheme delivered over £163million to around 200 businesses in the UK, supporting hundreds of jobs.
Commenting on the introduction of the fund, the Science Minister George Freeman said: “As the success of our extraordinary vaccine development and roll-out made clear, the UK is home to some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in the world.
“Supporting our talented innovators, not only to develop their ideas but to see these ideas through to commercialisation, will be essential to growing an economy built on the technologies of the future, and securing the UK’s status as a true Innovation Nation.
“So, I am thrilled that after an extremely successful pilot programme, Innovate UK are launching the substantial new series of loans to support SMEs working across the country on the most innovative projects for the future economy, entrenching our position as a science superpower.”
To apply, you must be a UK registered SME. Individuals, large companies, not for profits, charities, academic institutions and research organisations are not eligible. The Government envisages that those applying for the loans will be from the Net Zero, health and wellbeing sectors, and next generation digital technologies, as well as the “7 Technology Families”:
- Advanced materials and manufacturing
- Engineering biology
- Photonics and quantum
- Smart Machines
Given the recent issues with supply of gas and oil caused by turmoil in Eastern Europe it is expected that there will be more applicants from the Energy sector. In particular the solar, wave and wind power industries may be prominent as the Government seeks to find cheaper alternative fuel sources to remove our heavy reliance on Gas and Oil.
Let’s hope that there are breakthrough technologies waiting in the wings to alleviate some of the pressure on households as a result of the energy crisis.