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Grant funding: an evolving landscape

Director - Grant Advisory
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In the light of the recent national energy security strategy and Covid-19 recovery plan, the UK Government has set out a very ambitious and fast-tracked framework to build back better, and to invest in making the UK a global leader in R&D and an attractive destination for investment.

As a result, the grants landscape in the UK is rapidly evolving, with significant funding available for projects which meet the relevant criteria.

This evolving terrain presents exciting opportunities for projects that align with the specified criteria. Let’s delve into the key growth sectors identified by the government, spanning various industries and showcasing the potential for innovation and advancement in the UK.

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Grants: the long-term vision for growth

Within the framework of the government’s long-term vision for economic growth, several key sectors have been earmarked for significant development. These sectors include net zero initiatives, capital-intensive technologies, power generation (with a focus on offshore wind, civil nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and whole systems integration), heating and retrofit solutions, mobility advancements, resource efficiency in materials and manufacturing, critical circular materials, and battery technologies for transport and energy storage as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge.

Additionally, the government emphasises health and wellbeing, supporting innovative solutions to healthcare challenges through initiatives like the Biomedical Catalyst. Advancements in life-changing cancer therapeutics, specifically immunotherapies and paediatric oncology, are a priority. The application of extended reality for digital mental health and the development of controlled environment agriculture and alternative proteins also hold significant promise.

Lastly, the government recognises the importance of next-generation digital technologies. Projects within the creative industries that integrate innovative digital technology and sustainable practices, such as circular fashion, are encouraged through programmes like Creative Catalyst. Furthermore, the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in targeted industries is actively supported through the Bridge AI initiative.

As we explore the UK grants landscape, it becomes evident that the government’s strategic focus on these growth sectors opens up remarkable opportunities for forward-thinking innovators and businesses.

By aligning with these priorities, projects can secure valuable funding and contribute to the nation’s overall progress.

In this article, we provide an overview of the types of UK grants and help you find relevant grant funding opportunities.

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Find out more about our grant advisory service

From matching you with the right opportunity to managing compliance once funding is secured, we help you manage every stage of a successful grant application.

The UK grants landscape

The government has identified the following key growth sectors:

Net zero

  • Capital intensive technologies.
  • Power – particularly offshore wind, civil nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and whole systems integration.
  • Heating and retrofit.
  • Mobility.
  • Resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing.
  • Critical circular materials.
  • Battery technologies for transport and energy storage (Faraday Battery Challenge).

Health and wellbeing

  • Innovative solutions to health and healthcare challenges (Biomedical Catalyst).
  • Advancing life-changing cancer therapeutics, focused on immunotherapies and paediatric oncology.
  • The application of extended reality for digital mental health, including immersive content that could be delivered as a digital mental health therapeutic in formal healthcare settings (Mindset).
  • Controlled environment agriculture and alternative proteins.

Find out more about the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.

Next generation digital technologies

  • Projects within the creative industries which are underpinned by innovative digital technology as well as sustainable innovations, such as circular fashion (Creative Catalyst).
  • Adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in targeted industries (Bridge AI).

Types of grant

There are two types of grants that UK companies can typically engage with:

Defined grants

The most common of these are known as defined grants or accelerated tax deductions that apply to prescribed investments.

These are competitive grants most likely government-backed, designed to provide innovative businesses with funding to help in challenge-led key growth sectors such as net zero or life-sciences.

Negotiated grants

The less common type is known as negotiated grants. These are designed with employment creation or capital investment in mind. For example, when a government or local authority wishes to incentivise a business to invest or maintain investment in a particular region.

Typically, the sources for grant funding in the UK are derived from:

  • National or regional programmes designed to support company investment (such as Scottish Enterprise, the Welsh Government and the Local Enterprise Partnerships in England).
  • Innovate UK, the government’s primary mechanism for supporting R&D through competitive calls (to understand more about the interaction between R&D tax relief and grants read our article).
  • Horizon Europe which supports collaborative efforts across the continent to address challenge-led projects.

Meet Karim Budabuss, Director – Grant Advisory

  • Helps clients to access government funding for capital and innovation investments.
  • In-depth knowledge and a strong track record of securing funding for innovative businesses.
  • Chartered engineer with the UK Engineering Council.

Investment factors that trigger grant support and incentives

When exploring the diverse landscape of grants and funding sources in the UK, it is essential to consider the investment factors that can trigger incentives. These factors span across both types of grants and funding sources, encompassing various categories.

R&D projects.

  • For products and processes, for all industries, from basic research to the shop floor
  • R&D projects form a significant category, supporting product and process development across industries, ranging from fundamental research to practical implementation on the shop floor.

Capital investments

  • Site related or for equipment purchases.

Capital investments, whether site-related or equipment purchases, also play a crucial role in incentivising businesses.

Employment

  • Creation, conversation and training.

Moreover, employment factors, including job creation, conversion, and training, are key drivers for grant funding.

Location

  • New sites or modifications to existing sites.

Additionally, location-related investments, such as establishing new sites or modifying existing ones, are eligible for incentives.

Environment

  • Direct investments or productivity improvement related.

Lastly, grants and funding opportunities are available for environmental initiatives, whether they involve direct investments or productivity improvement efforts.

By considering these investment factors, businesses can strategically align their projects and initiatives with the grant funding opportunities available in the UK.

ForrestBrown’s approach to grant advisory

In conjunction with an understanding of the diverse range of grant funding opportunities and investment factors that make up valuable funding opportunities, ForrestBrown offers a comprehensive approach to grant advisory.

Our grants horizon scanning service equips businesses with vital information to make strategic decisions about the most relevant grants for their operations.

The process takes the heavy lifting from your time-poor team and is broken down in four simple stages:

Feasibility

Should an application in respect of a specific grant call be of interest, we will undertake a project incentive viability analysis to enable you to decide whether to continue or not with the opportunity.

Conducting feasibility workshops to discuss your forward-looking investment plans, existing technology portfolio and R&D ambitions will help inform your future investment strategies.

Application

Upon a positive conclusion, our team will assist in preparing and supporting the formal submission.

Negotiation

We will also be available to support you with any meetings with the awarding body.

Compliance

For a successful outcome, we will review the draft offer of assistance and provide feedback on any unusual terms and conditions which may be included.

With ForrestBrown’s comprehensive grant advisory service, businesses can navigate the grants landscape with confidence.

Why choose ForrestBrown for grants management

As the UK’s leading innovation incentives consultancy, ForrestBrown is perfectly positioned to successfully advise you through a range of competitive grant funding mechanisms. We will also support you strategically to navigate the broader landscape to ensure you are rewarded for your innovation investment.

Our consultancy-led approach is flexible, meaning we can adapt to your needs. Whether you require ad-hoc support determining grant funding eligibility, an in-depth grant strategy review or an end-to-end project service our grant advisory team can help you secure the funding your innovation deserves.

Get in touch

ForrestBrown is the UK’s leading innovation incentives consultancy. Our 120-strong multi-disciplinary team is made up of grant advisory experts, qualified chartered tax advisers, lawyers, accountants and industry sector specialists. We are your trusted partner for best-in-class innovation incentives advice.

If you want to find out more about how ForrestBrown can support your business’s innovation, contact us today.