You can find out how Innovate UK helps with funding and support, but the key programmes are:
- Smart scheme
- Innovation Vouchers
- Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
The Smart programme is ‘always open’ and is not restricted to projects in certain themes or sectors. It offers funding to single, UK-based, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have high growth ambition and potential, allowing them to engage in R&D projects from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge.
Three types of grant are available:
- Proof of market
- Proof of concept
- Development of prototype
Launchpads help technology-themed clusters of young, early-stage companies to develop and grow in specific locations around the UK. Two £1 million competitions have been run so far that were focussed on the space sector. This is a great competition for early stage or even pre-start businesses.
Innovation Vouchers are grants of £5,000 designed to encourage businesses to look for new knowledge to help them grow and develop. Why not use one to work with the Catapult?
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships offer businesses the opportunity to work with academic institutions to gain access to new knowledge, with the government financing part of the cost of running the project.
UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provide a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions. It is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-space-agency
Key initiatives include:
The Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) is a strategic national programme established and led by the UK Space Agency in 2014, and delivered in collaboration with the Satellite Applications Catapult to drive the uptake and use of space products, data and services across government departments. SSGP will release periodic funding calls.
European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA is a key source of funding for the Space sector. Two specific areas of interest are:
- The Integrated Applications Promotion programme is dedicated to the development, implementation and pilot operation of integrated applications
- The ESA Business Incubation Centre can provide £40,000 of funding, and has regular calls for selection
The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme (FP7) provides grants for R&D in specific areas. Within each member state, there is a network of National Contact Points (NCP) who can provide advice and individual assistance. The UK’s NCP for Space is Catherine Holt at Innovate UK. The Horizon 2020 SME instrument is a major source of financial support for SMEs.
Enterprise Europe Network
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is a free service matching businesses in 54 countries for commercial, technical and research collaboration. Their 3,000 representatives on the ground have direct contact with companies and make introductions on your behalf. http://een.ec.europa.eu
National Space Technology Programme (NSTP)
NSTP aims to develop the growth of the UK Space sector as embodied in the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy. Proposals are sought for space technology research and development projects that should align with the National Space Technology Strategy and the related technology roadmaps covering five main themes:
- Position, navigation and timing
- Exploration and robotics
- Access to Space
There are three types of NSTP grant:
- NSTP Technology Fast Track Grants – typically £50,000 to £150,000; up to 12 months duration
- NSTP Pathfinder Grants – £50,000 maximum; normally no more than six months duration
- NSTP Grants for Exploratory Ideas (Mini Studies) – rolling call, £10,000 maximum grant; up to 3 months duration
For information on this and other financial support available from the UK Space Agency, see www.gov.uk/apply-for-funding-academic-community-and-educational.
Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation
The Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation hosts regular calls for funding in the area of Earth observation instrumentation. For further information, visit www.ceoi.ac.uk.