R&D and Innovation Funding in the UK

The Zabala UK team provides an update on the latest funding opportunities in the UK, including a £50 million in “Innovation Loans” available for close to market R&D projects

On the 8th and 9th of November ZABALA UK attended the Innovate 2017 conference in Birmingham, one of the UKs leading innovation events. The event brought UK innovators together to share, excite, and inspire businesses, individuals and governments to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. It featured over 160 exhibitors and 270 speakers across 70 sessions of 5 stages.

One of the takeaways ZABALA UK gathered from the event was about the introduction of “Innovation Loans’ competitions” which will run concurrently with Grant competitions. Innovation Loans are a new way to finance late-stage research and development (R&D) projects i.e. projects that are close to market. These kinds of projects may include activities such as prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation in environments that are representative of real-life operating conditions.

The Innovation loans are aimed at UK-based small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can show that they can afford the interest and repayments on the loan and that they cannot obtain finance from other sources such as banks and equity investors. Innovate UK is running a pilot programme of loan competitions over 2 years to the end of 2019. A total of up to £50 million is available for business innovation projects.

Click here for more information on UK Innovation Loans.

EU Funding

Regarding funding opportunities for UK partners at EU level, ZABALA would like to continue to highlight that in H2020, UK applicants still have the same rights and obligations as all other EU member states until the UK leaves the EU.

As the Minister of Science Jo Johnson stated on 18th July: “The Government’s underwrite commitment guarantees awards where the application is submitted before exit and is subsequently approved after exit”, which means that UK entities will be welcome to proposals to be submitted until 29/03/2019 (taking into account that the UK should not be one of the 3 countries needed for the eligibility of the proposals).

ZABALA recommends keeping this information in mind when elaborating a proposal, our UK office in London can provide expertise on how to write project proposals, also involving UK partners.

R&D Tax Relief

Good news!  The UK government has announced a rate increase of the RDEC from 11% to 12%, which means that large companies can claim more support for their R&D, increasing the incentive to undertake R&D. The increase will come into effect from 1 January 2018 and will benefit both qualifying Large companies and SMEs using the RDEC scheme where appropriate.

The Zabala UK team, headed by Joseph Dahhane, has more than a decade of experience of assisting both Large companies and SME's with claiming R&D tax relief, helping them to understand the intricacies of these tax incentives and prepare and submit claims that meet the requirements of HMRC's R&D tax guidelines. 

Energy storage funding

Also announced by BEIS, is the UK government's intention to make energy clean, abundant and very cheap, by helping to pioneer energy innovation through battery storage technologies.

Almost £250 million is to be deployed under the Faraday Challenge, which will see funding competitions carried out over four years in research and development, innovation in commercial applications and scalability of production.

The funding will assist in pioneering low cost approaches to decarbonise the UK economy and support the grid, by helping to develop technologies for storing intermittent renewable power in batteries ready for when the grid needs it.  The aim from this in addition to decarbonising the economy is to lower the energy costs for everyone including vulnerable and low income energy consumers and mitigate some uncertainty about the future of energy in the UK.


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