Are there still grants out there to support innovation?

Are there still grants out there to support innovation?


With public sector cutbacks now well and truly upon us, you could be forgiven for thinking that grant money is in short supply. You’d be right; several schemes have already been put on hold pending the Government’s review of public sector spending commitments, most notably…

The Grant for R & D and the Grant for Business Investment,  although I understand EEDA, for instance IS awarding grants for clean/green tech companies as these are funded by European money.  There are also some smaller funds and it is these that I see as low hanging fruit for the right companies.

Innovation is about making money from doing something that’s different and clever. Note that I mention the end result (making money) first, and the cleverness last. This is to emphasise the point that innovation is driven by market opportunity, not by knowledge or R&D (a point that has been largely missed by successive UK governments and the European Commission, a personal bugbear that I’ll expand on some other time).  Knowledge, R&D etc. are enablers, not drivers, of innovation. Vital enablers perhaps, but still only enablers. Without a viable market opportunity, there can be no innovation. A lack of knowledge of how to address a market opportunity is a surmountable barrier; the lack of a market isn’t.

With that in mind, EEDA has, for several years, been  providing financial support for investigating the market potential of an innovative idea or technology. The Proof of Market grant is the successor to EEDA’s Proof of Concept scheme but it’s only open until Friday 10th September. Unlike other grant schemes in the R&D space, the Proof of Market grant is not for the R&D itself but designed to help to answer that all-important question: is there enough market potential here to justify further investment in time, effort and money?

Another rather nifty scheme of EEDA’s helps businesses to tap into the wealth of knowledge that exists within the region’s universities. If you want some input from a university into your process of innovation or business improvement, then an Innovation Voucher can fund up to £3,000 (typically about a week’s worth) of academic expertise.

Given the importance of these schemes in today’s barren grants landscape, we are running a special workshop on 1st September 2010 to help with honing applications.  It’ll be a very hands-on day with me and Richard Moseley.  We’ve both been working in the world of grants for years and we’re keen to help as many entrepreneurs as possible get access to this funding.