Grants for technology businesses

There are millions of pounds in funding available for technology and communications companies in the UK from funding providers such as the Government and the European Union.

There are millions of pounds in funding available for technology and communications companies in the UK from funding providers such as the Government and the European Union.

Getting a technology grant – How speech recognition technology provider Voxgen was awarded a £214,000 business grant by the Technology Strategy Board.

Government grants

There are a number of specific initiatives such as the SMART (Small Firms Merit Award for Research and Technology) Awards, which are grants from the DTI to help individuals and small businesses in the UK to develop innovative new products and processes. You will have to compete for the grant along with other applicants.

“The SMART award is available for technology companies but they do have to have real innovation that moves thinking forward on a particular subject,” says Nigel Lander, an adviser for Business Link.

SMART awards are given for different types of projects such as the pre-production prototype stage of a new product or process, and project costs are awarded up to a maximum of £450,000.

Innovate UK has replaced SMART Awards – The SMART scheme was closed down in 2005. Initially it was replaced with regional Grants for Research and Development. The R&D tax credit, first introduced in 2000, was also created to help small- and medium-sized companies undertake research and development (R&D), either for the first time or to encourage them to do even more. From 2014, Innovate UK became the main government sponsor of business grants and awards for technology. It is the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency. It is a UK non-departmental public body operating at arm’s length from the Government and reports into the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK Funding Targets

  • Funding grants are available to amounts of between £25,000 and £10 million
  • Funding is available for UK-based businesses only. All kinds of businesses can apply – from pre-startup and new companies to large multi-nationals.
  • Funding is concentrated into 4 mains sectors: Emerging and enabling technologies, Health and life sciences, Infrastructure systems, Manufacturing and materials

Other business funding opportunities from government sources include:

  • Open funding programme – Supports innovation at various stages of a company’s growth, helping to develop projects from proof of concept through to prototype development and demonstration. Each year there are 2 rounds of open funding competitions to provide these opportunities for businesses. This programme most closely follows the old SMART award scheme.
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) – funded partnerships with academics and researchers. Each scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business.
  • International programmes – a number of initiatives that can help you get access to international opportunities and partners. This includes Horizon 2020 (Europe’s biggest ever funding initiative), EUREKA Eurostars, and the Newton Fund. These are open to a range of organisation types and size.


Does your business turn over between £50,000 and £500,000? If so, you are eligible for the new Small Business Grants initiative from We’re giving away £5,000 every month in a free-to-enter competition. Apply now by clicking here. Good luck!

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