Richard Wigley has spent nearly 20 years leveraging government funding to support business growth and R&D. He came in to give HS. startups his top tips for securing grant funding…
1. Grants are given to projects not companies
Grant funding bodies are looking for defined start and end points to a project, clear deliverables, costs and milestones. You must acknowledge what is happening before, and what is intended after, the project and where the project fits into the bigger picture of your company and timeline. It’s absolutely fine if the project is a small part of development and service, or all of it. Funding bodies want to see that you are going to be sustainable once the funding runs out.
2. You must be addressing a €/£/$1bn global market
You need to be addressing a global market, but you don’t need to start addressing it in the home of the grant. Grant Funding bodies do recognise that there is future opportunity to bring economic benefits back to the UK if innovation starts elsewhere.
3. Show clear impact, both internal and external
Internal impact is how you will build the team, knowledge etc.. Even if you are bringing previously subcontracted employees back in, showing that you are contributing to job growth is a key metric that turns heads. External impact should be easy to identify that’s the social and economic benefits. The key here is being very clear on what you will measure and how will you measure it.
4. Must be for future work
From the start of the grant funding application to the project starting, allow for 6 months. Don’t rely on the project starting sooner than that.
5. You will require match funding
Almost all grants, apart from a few charity funded grants, require match funding, which is usually 30-75%. This can come from anywhere. Different bodies have different diligence regarding this match funding, e.g. Innovate UK require just a letter of intent from an investor, but H2020 will need much more in-depth due diligence and evidence of money hitting bank accounts etc.
6. Be open to collaboration
Always think about collaboration with other organisations / businesses. Very few grants will allow you to enter as a single company. You can collaborate with academic institutions, NHS trusts, charities, social enterprises, industry bodies, membership bodies, and it’s about hustle to get those partnerships.
7. Be specific
Really look at the scope documents. Pick out a couple of elements that you are sure to hit and explain why. Successful companies can accurately describe the impact they are going to have. e.g. "in histopathology recruitment hasn’t kept up with retiring, therefore shortfall = x. y innovation solves the problem in z way." Then drive into the minutiae of the work required.
8. Be realistic about your costs
Don’t apply for the maximum amount of funding, that can be fatal. Assume the assessors have in depth domain and business knowledge and will pick holes in your plan. Don't underestimate or overestimate costs.
9. Answer the Questions!
There are no marks for repetition, so really look at all of your answers and turn it into a narrative.
10. Reference everything
Treat it as an academic exercise. Any figures etc., reference in-line or move all of your references to an appendix.
Check out the list below for the open grant funding opportunities from Innovate UK...
The HS. Team
Medicines manufacturing round 2: challenge fund
£50k - £1.5m / 6 – 30 Months / Solo or Collaborative / Deadline: 9 May
SBRI: automated pre-cleaning of surgical instruments
2 phase / £30k / 6 Months / Solo / Deadline: 9 May
NHS Test Beds: business expression of interest
£500k - £1.5m / 18 Months / Collaborative / Deadline: 27 March
SBRI Glasgow: technology for monitoring risk management at home
2 phase / £150k / 6 Months / Solo / Deadline: 25 April
Digital health technology catalyst round 2
£300k - £1m / 30 Months / Collaborative / Deadline 18 April
Support for SMEs to evaluate innovative medical technologies
£50k - £250k / 9 Months / Solo or Collaborative / Deadline 21 March
January 2018 sector competition: strand 1, health and life sciences
£50k - £2.5m / 6 – 24 months / Solo or Collaborative / Deadline 28 March
March 2018 sector competition: Open
£25k - £1m / 6 – 36 Months / Solo or Collaborative / Deadline 9 May