SMART grants are one of the grants available from Innovate UK (Technology Strategy Board) that provides public funding to small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) that are looking to use technology, science and engineering to push borders and redefine boundaries. Previously known as the Grant for Research and Development scheme, it was designed to do just that, encouraging companies to engage in R&D projects, from which valuable new products, processes and services could be created to contribute to growth of the UK economy.
Your project must involve technical innovation. That means it is a leap-forward over the current state of the art.
Your project must have commercial innovation. That means it must have the potential to change the way that businesses in your sector operate.
Is it risky?
Is your project technically risky? It should be. InnovateUK expect that SMART projects involve technical risk and that they may well fail. If you have a ‘sure bet’ then look for other funding sources.
Of greater benefit
Will your project help companies other than your own? SMART funding exists to help the UK companies, not simply to benefit you and your business.
For the future
Does your technology have the potential to deliver social, economic and/or environmental benefits? Does it cut carbon emissions, help disadvantaged people in society or help reduce waste for example?
Most of your team need to be direct employees on a PAYE scheme, not contracted. Likewise, director’s dividends do not count as allowable staff costs.
Risky R&D only
Do not aim to take your product/service to market with these grants; they are intended for early stage, risky R&D. InnovateUK would expect that you will fund follow-on product/tech development and market entry with other sources of funding after your SMART project has completed.
If you can fund this yourself, do not apply, SMART grants are intended to help fill a funding gap and you must to be able to show that the project would not be undertaken as well or at all without SMART support.
Do not expect to cash flow your business with a SMART grant, it is matched – meaning that you need to find 40-55% of the project costs yourself – and the grant is paid every 3 months after you incur the costs.
Don’t include any sales, marketing or business development costs. These are not allowable.
Be prepared to provide project plans, updates, milestone reports, proof of deliverables and cost claims on a regular basis. Make sure they are accurate otherwise your grant will be delayed.
The SMART scheme has already been of huge help too many UK companies and with funding rounds announced until March 2016 and a further batch planned, will continue to help SMEs to fund R&D projects.
If your company is in the business of “pushing the envelope”, Tenshi Grants can make the application process simple and cost effective for your SME, by helping you to write your application to ensure you meet all the criteria and present your project as effectively as possible. Contact us to talk about SMART grants.