Innovation Grant Funding for Impact Ventures

May 17, 2021

Back in 2020, we gave a talk at the Waterkant festival on the topic of Innovation Grant Funding for Impact Ventures . We are delighted to be able to now share the full recording of this session, along with a transcript of the key takeaways and highlights.


Highlights and Key takeaways from our Innovation grant funding for impact ventures Waterkant session.

Venturenomix work internationally with clients and partners seeking to make a positive impact in the world. Our consultancy and training services support your organisation in structuring and differentiating your impact venture to maximise the chance of securing funding. 

Who we work with:

Disruptive Tech Companies benefit from our:

  • Extensive success in securing R&I grant funding. 
  • Business network of funders, advisors and partners.
  • Experience of setting strategies to scale-up

Digital and Sustainable Cities benefit from our:

  • Strategic approach to establishing partnerships and securing funding
  • Links to technology partners to operating across the EU on Open Data and Interoperability. 

Multi-Partner Collaborations benefit from our:

  • Experience of developing long-term, international partnerships.
  • Success in securing EU grant funding for collaborative partnerships
  • Proven collaborative processes

Innovative Not-for-Profits benefit from our:

  • Understanding and experience of grants, CSR, Tenders and other sources of non-dilutive funding
  • Low-risk fee structure that is weighted on success

There are 4 main grants we offer: 

  • Research & Innovation
  • Covering staff wages, equipment materials, sub-contractors and travel.
  • Business/Economic Growth
  • Covering buildings, machines, equipment and project manager.

Business Support Grants

Business support grants usually offer a few thousand pounds to help with market research and equipment. These grants are very regional and have come historically from European (ERDF or ESF funds).

  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Covering staff, equipment and travel
  • Business Support
  • Covering professional advice, market research, expertise and facilities. 

Sometimes grant funding is allocated to certain regions and areas that are potentially performing less well from an economic stand point, or other indicators at government level. Support and monitoring in the form of grants can be offered for generation of low carbon heat electricity.

Innovation Grants

Innovation grants generally focus on different stages of development: Proof of concept, prototyping and Scaling. Collaborative grants usually require partners from different sectors (private, public, research) and/or countries (EU funds). 

Proof of concept

Early stage:

  • TRL 1-4
  • Can be combined with the Prototyping stage
  • Up to £100K typically



  • TRL 5-8
  • Can be combined with Scaling stage
  • Up to £2.5M typically


Late stage:

  • TRL 7-9
  • Testing/Finalising
  • Near market ready
  • Up to £2.5M


Spanning all stages:

  • Need a group of organisations working together
  • Typically international in scope
  • Up to £20M

Innovate UK

Innovate UK are the main providers of R&D Grants with a budget growing to £2bn per year by 2023. Innovate have stream-lined the application process, the guidance and submission process is reasonably straight forward. Their range of support tend to be harder to qualify as there are more requirements. If you’re eligible for these grants with a relevant project, then there is a higher chance of success.

The process consists of:

  • Open Calls
  • Broad scope
  • Broad eligibility
  • 6-36 months projects
  • £25K to £2m grant
  • Single or collaborative
  • Regular deadlines
  • Specific Calls

Focused thematic priorities:

  • Clean growth
  • Health
  • Transport
  • Industry 4.0
  • Creative Industries

Open calls are usually run every quarter however with Covid-19, there has been a bit of a disruption as they’re prioritising funding which is allocated to Covid-19 to help and support these challenges.

At any time, there’s somewhere between 10 and 20 specific calls open and accepting applications for funding. Generally speaking, Innovate will take 6-8 weeks to make a decision and there’s normally around a month of paperwork before you can actually kick the project off.

In an application, there is also a section allocated for wider impacts, we definitely urge you to try to quantify even if there is a range so it is quite broad. But, it is reasonable to take policies from governmental or international levels to cover what exactly you are aiming for and Innovation will make a positive contribution to a target, whether that is climate, education, knowledge etc.  

Our tips for success

Grant Funding is competitive, so how can you make your application stand out?


You need to show a project that is high risk, the funder needs to see the high risk approach in the concept. Get to the heart of the novel factor(s) about your venture


You need to show an opportunity that has good potential, how you’re going to make the business sustainable after the funding. Demonstrate the commercial potential of your venture


Provide a picture of a well rounded and experienced team, technical, commercial, operations, finance and advisors. 


Partnering with an academic partner and/or industry partner will improve your chance in most cases.

Value for money

This is public money (from tax-payers) and the funder needs to be able to justify awarding you the grant.

Risk assessment

Strike a good balance between a high-risk project and a well managed project plan. 

Selecting Grants

Make sure the business is leading the selection of the grant fund and not the other way around.

Be strategic

Consider how grant funding can support your venture over the medium term.

Be persistent

Chances are you will need to submit several applications before your first success.

More Useful Resources

Introduction to Venturenomix

Venturenomix EU Grant Guide

Venturenomix Synopsis Toolkit

Our Impact Venture Funding eBook