Incentives, funding and support
If you're an ambitious, innovative company that wants to expand in the UK market you can:
- access funding in the form of grants and loans or incentives such as tax reliefs
- connect with powerful knowledge transfer networks to develop your product
- tap into the UK’s extensive research infrastructure, with its strong industry links
Tax and innovation incentives
Research and development tax relief
You can claim corporation tax relief if you're working on an innovative project in science or technology that meets the UK government’s definition of research and development (R&D).
The two main types of R&D tax reliefs:
- small and medium enterprise (SME) R&D relief, for companies with fewer than 500 staff
- R&D expenditure credit, for larger companies
These are special areas in the UK where different economic regulations apply and you can access planning, infrastructure and innovation support from the UK government. Setting up your business in a freeport can save you time and money through a range of customs and tax benefits, including:
- increased capital allowances for investment in plant machinery and infrastructure
- business rates relief
- employer National Insurance contributions relief
- deferrals and exemptions from import duties
The UK is one of several countries with a patent box scheme – designed to encourage companies to keep and commercialise intellectual property in the UK. The scheme allows for 10% corporation tax on profits from patented inventions and some other types of intellectual property.
Support from UK Research and Innovation
UKRI is the national agency for investment in science and research, offering funding through seven research councils and Innovate UK, the national innovation agency. Innovate UK helps businesses through funding, networking and practical support.
Innovate UK provides funding through:
- the Innovation Funding Service, where companies can search for and enter grant funding competitions to solve challenges based on the government's industrial strategy. Find out more on GOV.UK
- Innovate UK Smart funding for new and disruptive ideas from businesses, through a competitive application process. Ideas can be for any area or challenge. Find out more on the UKRI website
- Innovation loans for later stage R&D projects with a clear path to commercial success. Find out more on the UKRI website
- the Small Business Research Initiative, a mechanism for companies of any size to pitch innovative solutions for public sector challenges to win government contracts. Find out more on the UKRI website
Research networks, tools and facilities
The UK has a strong culture of collaboration and knowledge transfer between industry and higher education or private research institutes. Tap into this collaborative culture through:
- the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme, linking businesses with a research organisation and a graduate to provide them with the expertise they need to develop an idea. Find out more on the KTP website
- the Knowledge Transfer Network, helping businesses innovate by connecting them with universities, funders, investors and other businesses. Find out more on the Knowledge Transfer Network website
- Gateway to Research, a UKRI website where you can learn from current and past research projects, including publications, outcomes and contacts
- Konfer, an online tool that uses “smart matching” to connect UK universities and businesses
- Catapult centres for technology and innovation, offering state-of-the-art facilities and expertise to link businesses to other businesses, researchers, government bodies and supply chains. Find out about the centres and their locations on the Catapult website
Support based on where you're expanding to
The nations and regions of the UK have a network of private-public partnership bodies that help businesses grow in their areas.
Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hubs support businesses across England. Find links on the Growth Hub network listing.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland manage programmes for business support, funding and finance in their areas. More information on the programmes' websites:
If you're an entrepreneur or founder of an innovative technology business you may be eligible for mentoring and business support to help you move your business to the UK.
Find out more about debt- and equity-based funding in our guide, Access to finance.
You can find a full list of support schemes for UK businesses using the GOV.UK tool Finance and support for your business.
Get advice on funding from UK experts – find their contact details in the Investment Support Directory.