Innovate UK is offering up to a £5,000 voucher for your business. Great! You’ll be able to get a good 100 pens from WHSmiths for that. Except unfortunately (well, probably fortunately), this is not a voucher you can spend in WHSmith, or any other stationery shop.
Innovate UK is offering the (up to) £5,000 voucher to start-up, micro, small and medium-sized businesses to spend on finding an expert to help with your idea or design, or to buy time and support for specialist equipment. The winning businesses are selected from a lottery draw out of the initial successful applications, with 100 vouchers available each round and four rounds per year.
There are a number of terms and conditions for entry, all of which are set out in the Guidance for Applicants document on the Innovate UK Innovation Vouchers page, as well as instructions on how to apply. The main criteria to note are;
- Your business must be start-up, micro, small or medium-sized.
- You have to use your voucher to pay for a UK expert, who you mustn’t have worked with before, from; universities or colleges, research and technology organisations, technical consultancies, catapult centres, design advisers and intellectual property advisers. These experts are referred to by Innovate UK as ‘knowledge suppliers’ – which this IPcopy writer rather enjoys.
- The idea you apply with must have a challenge involved that requires specialist assistance.
- If you’ve won a voucher before, your luck is out – you can only ever receive one voucher. This includes other companies that you may own.
If your business meets all these criteria, then you might want to get started on an application. The process is all done online, and consists of signing up and filling in forms about the business and the idea or design. You’ll also have to specify how you expect to spend the voucher, and the impact that will have on your business. The website states it should only take 30 minutes to apply. We guess that may be somewhat of an underestimate.
Another important point to remember is that Innovate UK will only notify applicants on the status of their applications through their online accounts, and won’t send out post or emails. So you’ll need to remember to check that every now and again once you’ve applied. Because what could be less innovative than sending an email?..
The current round (number 12) closes the 21st of July 2015 at midday, and it’s possible to apply any time before the deadline.
IPcopy wishes you good luck with the application, and hopes that you’ll get in touch if you want to spend your voucher on intellectual property advice from any of our knowledge suppliers.
Madeleine Finlay 18 June 2015