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Innovate UK Launches £10 Million Innovation Loans for SMEs: April 2018 Open Competition

Innovate UK has up to £10 million in innovation loans for UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out highly-innovative, game-changing projects.

This competition is part of the £50 million pilot Innovation Loans scheme introduced in autumn 2017 through Innovate UK (IUK). Innovation loans will be made through Innovate UK Loans Ltd; a wholly owned subsidiary of Innovate UK.

The scheme aims to provide finance to businesses that is affordable, patient and flexible for projects that have a clear route to commercial success. IUK is to offer up to £10 million in loans for highly innovative late stage projects with the best game changing and/or disruptive ideas or concepts. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Projects should aim to develop new products, processes or services (or innovative use of existing ones) believed to be significantly ahead of anything similar in the field. Proposals can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and any part of the economy.

This competition aims to help businesses overcome barriers to the best cutting edge, game changing innovations becoming a successful commercial reality. This includes making a considerable economic impact and/or resulting in significant, sustainable business growth. Projects must focus on commercialisation, growth or scale-up. Priority is given to proposals likely to lead to growth, gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export.

There is a total of £10 million available in this competition. Individual loans of between £100,000 and £1 million are available. Projects should last up to five years and are expected to start by December 2018.

The loans are aimed at innovative micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the UK that will be able to manage a loan, but may struggle to access finance from commercial lenders or schemes backed by the British Business Bank.

To take on an innovation loan for a project the business must:

  • be a UK based SME;
  • carry out the project in the UK.

The competition is now open with a deadline for registrations of 6 June 2018 and a closing date the following week on 13 June 2018.

This is the first in a series of three open loan competitions. A further two competitions are planned later in the year.

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