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Research and development or innovation

There are several useful research and development business support schemes and grants that can be used to help grow your business.

Innovate UK Smart Grants

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25M from Innovate UK to deliver game-changing and commercially viable research and development innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy.

This closes on 26 May 2021. You will need to collaborate with, at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), carry out your research and development (R&D) project activity in the UK and intend to commercially exploit the project results from the UK.

Find out more on the Innovate UK Smart Grants website. 

Horizon Europe Funding

Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation funding programme. It has a budget of €95.5 billion and runs until 2027. If you’re a UK-based researcher/innovator/organisation, then you can apply to most Horizon Europe funding opportunities on the same terms as EU-based applicants.

Innovate UK Edge

Innovate UK Edge provides SMEs with expert advice for businesses looking to commercialise new ideas and succeed in international markets.

You’ll get funded, bespoke support, to help grow your business, such as:

  • exploiting innovation
  • intellectual property
  • connections in the UK and abroad
  • entering new markets at home and abroad
  • accessing funding and finance
  • and getting investment ready.

Find out more on the Innovate UK Edge website. 

Precision Manufacturing Centre

Part of Nottingham University and they offer SME’s a fully funded technical business support service. This helps SME’s with their manufacturing design and research needs, they can also produce prototypes, undertake ultra-precision complex engineering, measurement reporting, microscopy and advise on IP.

Find out more on the Precision Manufacturing Centre website or contact them by:


If you’re looking for experienced input into your idea, product, service, research, or challenge, then KTN can help you. They are a partner of Innovate UK and support SMEs across the UK to find funding to bring new ideas to market.

Find out more on the KTN-UK website or contact them by:

Productivity Through Innovation (NTU)

A business support programme that has a grant available to support 20% of a graduates salary over the first 12 months of the graduates role for eligible businesses, to assist with delivering a project, one that introduces a new or improved product or service. You will also receive consultancy advice from experts within their internationally renowned Nottingham Business School, technical support and have access to their industry-standard facilities and attendance at workshops and events, providing you with opportunities for peer support from like-minded businesses

Find out more on the Productivity through Innovation website or contact Matthew Staniforth by:

Driving Research & Innovation

An ERDF project from Nottingham University supporting businesses to improve their innovation culture and productivities through free access and support from our world-class expertise and facilities. The project has been developed by the University's Precision Manufacturing Centre, Chemistry Innovation Laboratory and Food Innovation Centre and provide free support to businesses through Workshops and Dissemination Events, Consultancy, Technical Support Projects and Collaboration R&D Projects.

Find out more on the University of Nottingham Driving research and innovation website or contact them by:

The Instils Project

Nottingham University have a project which supports SME’s operating within the Life Sciences sector helping them to increase their competitive advantage through innovation. SME’s gain access to expertise, grant funding and networking opportunities to open new markets. Led by Medi-link in partnership with the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Find out more on the INSTILS (Derby & Notts) website or contact them by:

Research and Development Tax Credits

SMEs can claim for Research and Development relief if a research and development project seeks to achieve an advance in overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology through the resolution of a scientific or technological uncertainty - and so not simply an advance in its own state of knowledge or capability.

Find out more on the Research and Development Tax Credits website.

Patent Box

Patent Box enables companies to apply for a lower rate of Corporation Tax to profits earned after 1 April 2013 from its patented inventions and certain other innovations.

SMEs get tax relief and to be eligible the business must own or exclusively license the patents and must have undertaken a qualifying development on them.

Find out more on the Patent Box website. 

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) can help with patent applications. Find out more on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website. 

Intellectual Property attachés

Advice on protecting a business’s rights in key international markets through our specialist attachés. Find out more on the Intellectual Property attachés website. 

British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre and its network

The British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre and its network of centres based at other libraries around the country can offer businesses impartial free advice; support around patents and copyrighting and protecting ideas and products and marketing them. The centres offer business support as well as a specialised intellectual property service.

Find out more about the British Library Business & Intellectual Property Centre and its network on their website. 

Aerospace Unlocking Potential Project

This project will run up until December 2022 and supports SMEs across the Midlands operating within the aerospace sectors or related supply chains.

Grants area available between £1K and £100K or up to 40-50% of approved Research and Development project costs to help develop new technologies, products or services. This money can be used towards the purchase of equipment, machinery, software, consultancy, research and development materials and the cost of a graduate.

You will also receive technical support from the Precision Manufacturing Centre at Nottingham University.

Find out more on the Aerospace Unlocking Potential Project website or contact them by:

Ways to contact business support

The best way to contact us is through our online form so we have the right information to help you as quickly as possible. Contact us by: