Key features

  • Funding for innovation projects in high growth potential SMEs 

  • Grants let you assess the commercial viability of a project

  • Smart funding is available to single companies

Smart funding
The Smart scheme tackles the funding gap often experienced by many small and early-stage companies with innovative ideas and high growth ambition and potential. 
It offers co-funding to UK-based pre-start-ups, start-ups, micro businesses and SMEs, to carry out science, engineering and technology R&D projects which could lead to successful new products, processes and services. 
Smart helps companies assess potential markets, prove concepts and develop prototypes. By reducing financial risk, it aims to encourage SME investment, increase innovation capability, accelerate the commercialisation of new products and services, and contribute to economic growth.
The Smart programme is ‘always open' and is not restricted to projects in certain themes or sectors; offering funding to single, UK-based, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who have high growth ambition and potential, to engage in R&D projects from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge.
Three types of grant are available:

Smart - Proof of market 

This grant enables companies to assess commercial viability, through:
  • market research
  • market testing and competitor analysis
  • intellectual property position
  • initial planning to take the project to commercialisation, including assessing costs, timescales and funding requirements.
Key features
  • duration - up to 9 months
  • maximum grant - £25k
  • funding proportion - up to 60% of total project costs.

Smart - Proof of concept 

A grant to explore the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a new technology, product or process:
  • initial feasibility studies
  • basic prototyping
  • specialist testing and/or demonstration to provide basic proof of technical feasibility
  • intellectual property protection
  • investigation of production and assembly options.
It also includes pre-clinical research studies for healthcare technologies and medicines, including target identification and validation.
Key features
  • duration - up to 18 months
  • maximum grant - up to £100k
  • funding proportion - up to 60% of total project costs.

Smart - Development of prototype

This funding is used by companies to develop a technologically innovative product, service or industrial process:
  • small demonstrators
  • intellectual property protection
  • trials and testing, including clinical
  • market testing
  • marketing strategies
  • identifying routes to market
  • product design work
  • pre-clinical studies for medicines.
Key features
  • duration - up to 2 years
  • maximum grant - £250k
  • funding proportion - up to 35% of total project costs for medium enterprises; up to 45% for small and micro enterprises.

How it works

Smart is "always open", however to manage the processing of these applications, we assign them into batches for final assessment and funding, known as rounds.
There are six rounds per year; the close dates for financial year 2013/14 are:
  • Round 1: 22 May 2014
  • Round 2: 17 July 2014
  • Round 3: 25 September 2014
  • Round 4: 27 November 2014
  • Round 5: 29 January 2015
  • Round 6: 26 March 2015
Please note all deadlines are noon.
Once an application is submitted, it is forwarded to independent assessors to begin the assessment process. Any applications submitted after 12.00 noon on the round close date will be reviewed in the following round. 
Following the round close date, the Technology Strategy Board collates all of the assessment feedback and scores from the assessors, ranking submissions in order to allocate the available funding. An applicant should expect to hear from the Technology Strategy Board approximately one month after the close date with respect to its funding decision.

Further information 

Who can apply?
Smart is aimed at SMEs with high growth ambition and potential. Pre start-ups, start-ups, and small and medium-sized businesses from all sectors across the UK, undertaking R&D may apply
Unsure if your business is an SME?
Devolved administrations
Smart works alongside similar programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Future programmes
In future we may also run themed competitions using the Smart grant scheme in our priority investment areas.
To apply or find out more:

Related links