£10m Funding Competition Open To Innovative SMEs

Up to £10 million in loans is being made available to micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) innovative manufacturing or materials projects.

The Innovate UK competition is open to all manufacturing sectors. Proposals should include innovations in one of two key areas:

• manufacturing systems, technologies, processes or business models

• materials development, properties, integration or reuse

The project's aim should be to enable UK businesses to progress innovative manufacturing or materials developments to commercial readiness.

Examples of the types of projects that may be considered include:

• creation of new or improved manufacturing facilities that could enable higher volume, lower cost or higher quality production

• development of new software (eg autonomous systems or artificial intelligence) to enhance manufacturing capabilities

• development of new business models, eg capabilities to provide services that supplement traditional product offerings

• new material testing, including production of test samples and testing at certified test facilities
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To be eligible, your project should focus on experimental development or later stage research and development (R&D) activities. It must also clearly show how you are working with end users, problem owners or those who will ultimately buy the results of your innovation.

Projects should last up to five years. The first three years can focus on R&D and the following two on establishing a clear route to commercial success. Loan repayments will be required over a further period of up to five years.

To be eligible, businesses must be able to show that they:

• can cover interest payments

• will be able to repay the loan on time

• need public funding

Loans of between £100,000 and £1 million are available. The deadline for registration for the competition is 25 April 2018 and the application deadline is noon on 2 May 2018.

Find more information on manufacturing and materials readiness loan competition.

Northern Ireland businesses interested in applying for an innovation loan are invited to attend a briefing event on Thursday 22 March 2018 at the NIACE Centre, Airport Road, Belfast.

Registration for the Belfast event is open now.

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