Biggest Innovate UK Funding Grants of 2022
Will Davis, 10 November 2022
We consider private UK companies that have secured large Innovate UK funding grants to be ‘high-growth’. A key component of the UK’s startup and scaleup ecosystem, Innovate UK grants are a good indicator of future success. Indeed, they have a track record of supporting some of the UK’s fastest-growing companies at an early stage, including unicorn businesses Arrival, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Improbable, and challenger bank Monzo.
Here, we profile the 10 biggest Innovate UK grants of 2022, to discover the country’s next generation of innovators.
What is Innovate UK funding?
Part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency. Created in 2007, it functions as an innovation funding service, to promote business growth through the experimental development of new products, services and processes. UKRI was launched in 2018 to support research organisations and funding opportunities across higher education institutions, and to aid Innovate UK programmes.
Innovate UK runs several sector-based grant funding competitions but the grant application process is highly competitive, with companies needing to demonstrate their eligibility and innovative ideas. Alongside providing grant funding, Innovate UK also connects SMEs to additional partners and funders, supports new business and research collaborations, and backs one of the UK’s top accelerator programmes.
Why do we track Innovate UK grants?
Business innovation funding has the potential to rapidly accelerate growth in the UK economy. Innovate UK grant recipients typically have very specific and ambitious R&D projects in the pipeline, so eligibility for Innovate UK funding can be an early indication of a game-changing company that’s building ambitious growth plans.
We also track other forms of grant funding on the Beauhurst platform, including grants awarded by: Scottish Enterprise, the Development Bank of Wales, Invest Northern Ireland, Horizon 2020/FP7, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the UK Space Agency.
Innovate UK funding trends
Since 2011, nearly 7k private UK companies have secured funding as part of Innovate UK innovation projects. In total, these ambitious businesses have been awarded 16,886 Innovate UK grants. The biggest to date was a £27.1m grant received by Belfast-based Artemis Technology. The green maritime engineering firm was awarded this Innovate UK grant in September 2020, to support the decarbonisation of maritime transportation.
Innovate UK grant recipients have predominantly been headquartered in the country’s southern regions so far, in London (1,636), the South East (1,003), the South West (536) and the East of England (655). Both the North West and Scotland, however, are also home to a large number of grantees (548 each). In contrast, Wales has had just 237 Innovate UK grant recipients, and the North East and Northern Ireland the fewest (184 and 171, respectively).
The majority (65%) of Innovate UK grant recipients have been tech companies (4,310), in particular software-as-a-service (SaaS) startups (762). Meanwhile, the business and professional services sector accounts for 2,677 grantees, while the industrials sector accounts for 2,408. In keeping with wider market trends, a disappointing 80% of businesses receiving Innovate UK grants have all-male founding teams.
The biggest Innovate UK grants of 2022
Of the high-growth UK registered companies currently tracked on the Beauhurst platform, an impressive 12% have secured Innovate UK funding. Below, we’ve ranked the 10 ambitious businesses that have secured the biggest Innovate UK grants of 2022.
We’re seeing increased interest in quantum technologies at the moment, with two of the top three Innovate UK grants this year going to companies operating in this space. Similarly, both the cleantech and biotech and pharmaceutical industries have also benefited from several very large grants in 2022.
Amount awarded: £3.91m
OX Delivers manufactures electric trucks, offering them on a pay-as-you-go basis to local businesses in developing countries. Founded in 2013, the Cheltenham-based greentech company has secured six large innovation grants so far, totalling £13.2m. The first of these was an £84.6k Innovate UK grant in October 2020, to support its feasibility study into an electric powertrain for the OX developing market utility truck. And most recently, the company was awarded an £8.50m grant from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).
Topping our list of the biggest Innovate UK grants of 2022, OX Delivers received £3.91m in grant funding in June. It was the lead participant in Innovate UK’s CLEAN: Clean Logistics for Emerging African Nations project. Other participants in the £8.56m project were Dana UK Axle, Potenza Technology, Penso Consultancy, Flags Software, and Coventry University. The project aims to accelerate the development of the technology required for a low-cost, flat-packed, electric off-road vehicle.
Amount awarded: £2.64m
Brighton-based Universal Quantum develops quantum computing technology, and is building the world’s first million-qubit quantum computer. Founded in 2018, the company is an academic spinout from the University of Sussex. Universal Quantum has received two Innovate UK grants so far, amounting to £3.39m, and two equity funding rounds, totalling £4.05m of investment.
In February 2022, Universal Quantum was awarded £2.64m from Innovate UK, to develop an error corrected quantum processor solution for commercial quantum computing. The £5.32m project involves collaborative partnerships with the University of Sussex, River Lane Research, Imperial College London, Edwards, Sia Partners UK, Qureca, Diamond Microwave, Rolls-Royce, and CPI TMD Technologies.
Quantum Motion Technologies
Amount awarded: £2.03m
The second quantum company in our Innovate UK grant ranking, Quantum Motion Technologies is developing and commercialising a silicon-based quantum computer. The Harrogate-based business was spun-out of the University of Oxford in 2017. It has since raised £9.75m in equity investment, across two funding rounds, and £3.67m worth of large innovation grants, across six different projects.
In March 2022, Quantum Motion Technologies received £2.03m in grant funding, as the lead participant in Innovate UK’s Altnaharra: Cryoelectronics for Quantum Circuits project. The project involves research partnerships with the University of Glasgow, Oxford Ionics, the National Physical Laboratory, and Oxford Instruments Nanotechnology Tools. It aims to produce a cryogenic chip that will advance the development of quantum technology.
Amount awarded: £1.88m
NRG Therapeutics is a Stevenage-based pharmaceutical company that develops treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. Founded in 2018, the startup has raised £2.49m in equity investment already, across three funding rounds with the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech fund. It has also been awarded at least £2.24m in innovation grant funding, including two large grants.
In May 2022, NRG Therapeutics secured a £1.88m Innovate UK grant, as the sole participant of an Innovate UK project titled “Development of Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore Inhibitors for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases”. The company will use this funding to help progress treatments to protect mitochondria in the brain, the degeneration of which has been found to contribute towards the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
Amount awarded: £1.77m
Sheffield-based Mobile Power has developed battery packs that run on renewable energy and are available to rent in emerging markets for charging mobile phones. Founded in 2013, Mobile Power later attended the Dotforge accelerator, going on to raise £5.08m in equity investment, across five rounds. The company has been awarded an additional £3.72m in grant funding, through nine large innovation grants.
In September 2022, Mobile Power received a £1.77m Clean Growth and Infrastructure grant from Innovate UK. It was the lead participant on the £2.52m project to pilot a combined ‘battery-as-a-service’ and ‘vehicle-as-a-service’ business model in rural Nigeria, in partnership with Tearfund and Pyrogenesys. The aim is to improve power distribution in Nigeria, by taking advantage of its vast availability of renewable energy to supply 75 villages with off-grid energy.
Amount awarded: £1.60m
Founded in 2015 and based in Midlothian, Biotangents develops diagnostic sensors for infectious diseases in farm animals. It does so using artificial Intelligence (AI) and its own patented bio-sensing technology. The Scottish agritech company has raised more than £2m in innovation grant funding so far, alongside £4.48m of equity investment. It also attended the Bio-start accelerator programme back in 2017.
Biotangents was awarded a £1.60m Innovate UK grant in May 2022, to accelerate the development of its AmpliSpec(tm) VET Mastitis device. The on-farm solution tests for Mastitis disease in cows by detecting inflammation in udders. Biotangents was the sole participant in the project.
Amount awarded: £1.58m
Founded in May 2021, HiSpeed is an Oxfordshire-based automotive and cleantech startup. It develops bespoke electric drive units for cars, with an aim of completely eliminating their CO2 emissions. The relatively new business is already exhibiting strong growth potential, having secured a £1.58m Innovate UK grant earlier this year.
HiSpeed was awarded this grant funding in June, as part of Project ZEN (Zero Emission Norton). The wider £8.53m Innovate UK project, led by Norton Motorcycles, aims to develop electric motorbikes in the UK. Other partners include the University of Warwick, Delta Motorsport, Indra, Formaplex Technologies, and M&I Materials. HiSpeed’s role in the project is concentrated on motor and inverter design and manufacturing.
Sector: Medical devices
Amount awarded: £1.40m
Sandwich-based VisusNano is developing a new type of lens to be used in cataract surgery. Once placed, the lens secretes a drug to reduce the risk of post-surgery infection. The medtech company was founded in 2016, and is a graduate of the Panacea Stars accelerator. It has also attended four other accelerator programmes so far, and secured £956k of equity investment and at least £1.70m in grant funding.
In April 2022, VisusNano was awarded £1.40m, as part of Innovate UK’s Ageing Society, Health & Nutrition grant scheme. It was the sole participant in the grant project to accelerate the development of its cataract surgery lens, MEDILends. This funding will be used to test the safety and efficacy of the company’s innovative technology in humans, in order to move towards commercialisation within 18 months of the project start.
Amount awarded: £1.24m
Antikor develops antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) which perform targeted therapy by killing cancer cells whilst causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue, and with fewer side effects than standard ADCs. The precision medicine company is a spinout of Imperial College London and is now headquartered in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Founded in 2001, Antikor has been awarded 10 large innovation grants so far, totalling £3.46m. This includes its £1.24m Innovate UK grant, received in April 2022, for the advanced preclinical development of a solid tumour-tailored gastric cancer therapy. Antikor was the sole participant in this innovation project.
Amount awarded: £1.23m
Mondra develops a platform for businesses in the food production sector to monitor and reduce the environmental impact of their products, as well as for communicating their environmental performances. Founded in February 2020 and based in London, the cleantech company has already secured a £387k equity investment and a large innovation grant worth £1.23m.
Its £1.23m grant funding was awarded by Innovate UK, in February 2022, for a project titled ‘Hyper-modelled Scope 3 Carbon Accounting across Food Supply Chains’. This will enable Mondra, the sole participant in the project, to take its platform into experimental development, with the aim of finding innovative solutions to assessing and reducing carbon emissions across global supply chains.
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