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Is Your Application ‘SMART’ Enough? Part 1

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The recent opening of the Innovate UK Smart: April competition marks 10 rounds of open competition funding. Here, we look back to review what has been funded*.

The Smart competition is the flagship R&D grant funding programme delivered by Innovate UK. It supports cutting-edge, disruptive innovation across all industry sectors and applications.

To date, Innovate UK has pledged £125m in grant funding across 590 projects. Overall, more than 700 SMEs have been supported, either working alone or in collaboration.

In the Smart programme collaboration can be key to presenting a successful application. Academic or research partners can strengthen the technical innovation within the project, and involvement by end users and large enterprises can strengthen the route to market case presented. The Smart programme is the most competitive offered by Innovate UK, with an average 15% success rate. It is essential for an applicant to demonstrate they have the best team in place to deliver success. Collaboration also enables applicants to access higher amounts of grant funding across a longer timeframe.

Of the 590 funded projects, 215 have collaborators. 167 of these are universities or research organisations, and 93 are large enterprises. Across the rounds the percentage of collaborative projects has increased slightly, as has the average grant awarded per project, which overall sits at £240k. Even though grants of up to £2m are available, very few are funded above £1m. Applicants must make sure every aspect of their proposal is strong to demonstrate value for money.

To demonstrate the amount of grant monies awarded to collaborative projects, consortiums of 2 organisations have been awarded on average £324k and consortiums of 7 organisations have been awarded £626k on average.

Over the rounds, TBAT have had many successes, enjoying a 60% success rate. Examples include:


Prototype wearable medical device for monitoring sepsis for improved treatment plans and earlier intervention. This project was a follow-on from a successful proof of concept delivering early prototypes, also filing a patent to secure freedom to operate, and engaging with NHS trial partners.

Creative industry

Targeting first of a kind auto-creation of adverts using state of the art deep learning techniques, based on leading academic research. The applicant had a product on the market with market traction, for the new technology to leverage.


Development of second-generation intelligent pressure connectors for the oil and gas industry. Based on successful demonstration of lower pressure first-generation tech, with core techniques patent protected. The applicant was an established industry supplier presenting an experienced team and demonstrable route to market.

* all data publicly available. Not including Smart:Feb 2019 as results not yet released.

How can TBAT help?

TBAT’s consultants are experts at getting into the ‘nitty gritty’ of a project and can advise whether they think it will not only be innovative enough, but also whether the route to market is currently strong enough to make a robust Smart Grant application.

Get in touch with us today to have an initial discussion regarding your project for this Smart Grant round and how we can help you maximise your chances of success through our bid-writing and review services!

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