When we started out, we won a grant from Innovate UK, to help develop our service. It was our first big break. It didn’t just arrive though - lots of effort and many failed attempts preceded it. Knowing how to apply for these grants and having the resilience to keep doing them is the key.
So, what steps should you take to write a compelling submission to a government-run innovation competition?
- Allow enough time – To do your application justice, especially when you’ve had little or no previous experience in writing funding applications, give yourself a minimum of two months' lead time to work on your application. It always takes longer than you think.
- Read all the material that the sponsor makes available on each grant competition - Search for "gov.uk innovation competitions", a link will come up and you’ll see several competitions that you might be able to apply for, all have further links to the material you need to read.
- Research government initiatives - Look to see how your application aligns with them e.g. the UK Digital Strategy policy paper.
- Answer the questions being asked and answer them all – we’ve all heard that before and yet it amazes me how many people do not answer the question, either deliberately as they think they know best or through not being disciplined with their responses.
- Robust evidence, facts and figures – You need to support your claims with statistics and/or primary/secondary market research. Make sure you do this ahead of time, so you aren’t scrabbling around for spurious evidence in a last-minute dash to make the submission deadline.
- Think about your responses from the perspective of the assessor – Make it easy for them to mark your submission and understand your project.
- Wider benefits of your project – It’s true of all public procurement these days, you need to demonstrate the broader benefits of being funded by the UK taxpayer, not just the benefits to you and your organisation.
- Funding – Be realistic about what you can achieve with the money. Do not describe a Ferrari if the money you could win will build the engine and nothing else. The assessors, there are typically five of them per application, have knowledge of the area you are looking to innovate in and will quickly work out whether your budget is realistic or not.
- Finally, this isn’t a once-and-done exercise, you should consistently apply for these government grants. That requires resilience and a determination to succeed. I found that the more applications I did the better I could explain our business and our services to our customers, so there is additional value in putting the effort in.
At Wyser we are digital transformation specialists and one area where we excel is helping organisations transform the front end of their customer journey. We won a grant from Innovate UK that gave us the opportunity to build an AI tool that not only collects the right data from the customer at the first time of asking, it automatically assesses those enquiries so that they can be quickly and accurately responded to or passed to the right person with the necessary experience and availability to deal with it.
We’ve worked for blue chip organisations, ombudsmen, and nationwide dispute conciliation services, all in highly regulated markets providing complex professional services to their customers.
If you would like to know more about applying for Innovate UK grants or about the services we have created, then please contact us.