Research and collaboration support

If you're an ambitious, innovative company who wants to expand in the UK market you can:

  • access funding in the form of grants and loans
  • connect with powerful knowledge transfer networks to develop your product
  • tap into the UK’s extensive research infrastructure, with its strong industry links

Support from Innovate UK

Innovate UK is a UK government-funded organisation that helps UK companies develop ideas and make them a commercial success. It’s part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), UK’s national science and research funding agency.

Around 70% of the companies Innovate UK works with are small or medium sized businesses.

It works to:

  • fund the strongest opportunities
  • connect companies with the right partners
  • help innovators launch, build and grow successful businesses

Funding is administered by a series of competitions and support types are listed below.

Targeted grants

These are based on specific themes related to the UK government's industrial strategy. Competitive calls are put out which can fund academic researchers and industry partners to solve these challenges.

Find current grant funding competitions on GOV.UK

Smart grants

Innovate UK smart grants are available for new and disruptive ideas from business, through a regular, competitive application process.

Grants are not limited to a particular industry or technology area.

Find more information on UK smart grants on the UKRI website.

Innovation loans

Innovation loans are for research and development (R&D) projects and are administered through competition.

Loan funding is limited to later stage R&D with a clear path to commercial success.

Further information on innovation loans on the UKRI website.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

SBRI supports research and development to provide solutions to UK public sector challenges. SBRI supports a range of competitions with public sector organisations and departments.

Organisations of any size are eligible to apply, including small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), large organisations and charities.

Read more on SBRI on the UKRI website.

UK’s research infrastructure

The UK has a very strong culture of collaboration and knowledge transfer between industry and higher education or private research institutes. There are several ways you can access this to make new partnerships and develop innovative products.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

The KTP scheme provide opportunities for businesses who have an idea, but do not have all the expertise needed to develop it. The scheme links businesses with an academic or research organisation, providing them with the services of a graduate as an associate.

A KTP is part-funded by a grant, with a contribution also made by the company.

Find out about partnerships on the KTP website.

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) helps businesses across all sectors develop their innovative ideas by connecting them with a network of businesses, universities, funders and investors.

Find more information on the Knowledge Transfer Network website.

Catapult centres

Catapults are not-for-profit, independent technology and innovation centres. Each catapult centre offers a space with state-of-the-art facilities and expertise to enable businesses to connect with other businesses, researchers, government bodies and the supply chain.

Read more on the centres and find their locations on the Catapult website.

Online UK research and collaboration tools

Konfer is an online tool which uses “smart matching” technology to connect UK universities and businesses.

UKRI’s Gateway to Research website gives information on current and past UK research projects, including publications, outcomes and contacts.

Next steps

You’ll find more information on financial and other support for business, including tax incentives, on our guide to incentives and funding.