The differences between Proof of Concept and Development of Prototype duringa SMART application

There are three types InnovateUK SMART grants you can apply for. The smallest (up to £25k) is for Proof of Market, and then you have Proof of Concept (up to £100K) and Development of Prototype (up to £250k).

One of the common challenges is understanding the difference between what is required for Proof of Concept vs Development of Prototype. This post breaks down the key differences based on our experience…

Proof of Concept

For a Proof of Concept you should:

  1. Have theorised a technology solution to a problem.
  2. Have reasonable basis (i.e. data) that there is market opportunity (which may or may not have been found through a Proof of Market grant)
  3. Be ready to test your theory by building something that is only advanced enough to prove the concept can work.

Development of Prototype

For a Development of Prototype you should:

  1. Have proven the concept already.
  2. Now be ready for a more advanced demonstrator that is somewhat representative of what your full commercial offering may be, in order to test the market.

Some examples:

  1. You are looking to build software that compresses data 10% better than the current best in market.
    1. Your Proof of Concept will be to create the software that compresses the data, but with no user friendly UI.
    2. Your Development of Prototype will be throw-away code, but have a decent UI and some other features such as ability to upload a file.
  1. You are looking to build a new car that is more aerodynamic that any currently on the market.
    1. Your Proof of Concept might be made out of solid clay, designed to see if it is aerodynamic and whether people like how it looks.
    2. Your Development of Prototype will be a prototype of the actual car, used to find the best manufacturing techniques and test how it drives, but will be scrapped afterwards.

Therefore, both projects involve roughly the same people and skills, and both require engineering. However a Proof of Concept is about creating some software to answer ‘is it even possible to solve my problem that way?’, whereas a Development of Prototype involved building software to test, to validate the market fit and work out how to go about building the full commercial product afterwards.


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