You want to apply for Innovate UK grant funding but not sure how to go about bid writing?

Whilst some may think its all secret sauce, Innovate UK on their YouTube channel do explain how to successfully apply for Innovate UK funding with bid writing – how to go about it and what you should include and not include.

So who are Innovate UK? They are a national funding agency that has various competitions, as they like to call them, whereby during the year, you can write a bid and if successful can gain access to funding that will allow you to continue with your innovation.

First of all then, you have kept an eye on their website or see it on social media that a new funding round is about to come up that will fit in with what it is you are doing. You then get to read in full the scope of the competition, who is eligible and who and what you can apply for.  I would suggest reading this several times before getting ahead of yourself.  Mostly to take in everything, but from experience of chatting to SME’s, they tend to read quickly and then write off any chances they might have at being successful, stating they are too small or they don’t want to work with others.

Lets first of all go through the process of how it all works then we can look at the pitfalls.


Process Of Applying for Innovate UK Funding

You have been on the website and seen the relevant competition you are applying for has opened.  You need to sit down and read through it all – questions are there to be answered, and yes repetition is often needed, but just ensure you answer each question. There is also often the opportunity to attend an online briefing session that goes in to some detail – so essential to attend to allow you to better complete your application.

Once written, you submit this application, which is then assessed.  There is a scoring matrix, as you would expect, you have to pass eligibility, and feedback is then offered.  If successful at this stage, it then goes to a funders panel who review it.

Recently, they have added a layer at this point for a second written application or an interview panel to go before.  Each competition should outline if this is the case.

If you pass the funders panel, you are then notified and your project can start.

There is NO right of appeal, however, you are allowed to re-apply once only – its suggested that you take the feedback and address this when doing so.

Lets look then at the pitfalls of your bid writing.


Common Pitfalls in your Bid Writing

Each competition is different, so approach each as so and don’t simply reword an old application as such.  Each competition is unique and you need to address each one as such.  To re-iterate then on the first point, guidance will change for each competition, so you need to read it carefully, several times.

Never assume that the assessors know what is happening in your business or mind – they need to see it in writing – if its applicable – mention it. Talk about the internal team who will be working on this – allow the assessor the ability to understand that you have considered it.

I know this one sounds obvious, but do answer the question – fully.  Don’t flannel and skirt around it, simply answer it.

Have you considered IP? Have you mentioned collaborators? Why not?

They are part of this application as well.

This one might sound obvious – but do remember there are deadlines for a reason – make sure you apply within it – don’t leave your application too late and rush it.

Lastly, the assessors have been picked to review applications based on their expertise and knowledge in this field, therefore, don’t insult them with patronising language – they are human, and as such might just be a little insulted.

Never a good thing to annoy assessors.

So what kind of questions to these applications make up?


Typical Questions on an Application

Please read the first word above again – typical ie not set in stone – just a few for you to think about.

  • Need or challenge of your innovation
  • Approach to the innovation
  • Team structure who is etc
  • Market – what is out there and what you are doing
  • Outcomes – what your innovation can solve
  • Wider impacts
  • Project management
  • Risks involved
  • Added value
  • Costs and value for money
  • Finance summary

As mentioned, these have been typical on most applications, however – on the pitfalls section- READ it thoroughly.


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