- Find out if you are eligible
- How to apply for an Innovation Voucher
- What happens after you apply?
- Other Innovation Voucher schemes
You can get an Innovation Voucher worth up to £5,000 to pay for an external expert to help your business grow.
You can use this expert to get advice on a novel idea or to use design within your business. You can ask them to help you make the most of intellectual property (IP). You can also use Innovation Vouchers to buy time and support on specialist equipment or facilities.
Innovate UK can help you find and choose an expert from one of the following:
- universities and further education colleges
- research and technology institutes
- technical consultancies and Catapult centres
- design advisers
- intellectual property advisers
To qualify for an Innovation Voucher you must:
- be starting up or running a micro, small or medium-sized UK business
- need help with something that's a real challenge for your business, not just a small improvement or change
- have not worked with this expert before
- have not had an Innovation Voucher from Innovate UK or the Technology Strategy Board before
You cannot use an Innovation Voucher to fund:
- staff training
- off-the-shelf software
- marketing or branding items
- standard business advice
Innovate UK awards Innovation Vouchers once every 3 months in January, April, July and October. We enter eligible applications into a draw and choose winners at random. The competition runs throughout the year.
You will need to answer a few short questions about your idea. You will also need to tell us the impact it could have on your business and the kind of supplier that you want to work with. We will also ask you about the size of your business and details of any public support you have received in the last three years.
You should expect to take around 30 minutes to complete your application.
We select applications in a random draw every three months. We will let you know online if you have been successful or not.
We may ask you for more information before offering you an Innovation Voucher. If you are successful, and have passed our eligibility check, we will give you 10 working days to accept our terms and conditions. You can then select a supplier of your choice. The supplier must be a UK-registered company or public sector organisation.
Once the work is complete, ask your supplier for a short report. We have published guidance on what this report should contain. Download the Guidance on Supplier Reports.
We will ask you to summarise what you have purchased with the Innovation Voucher and how it will benefit your business.
When you have paid your supplier's invoice, you can then redeem your Innovation Voucher with Innovate UK for up to £5,000. You cannot use the Innovation Voucher to pay for any VAT charged by your supplier.
You must use the Innovation Voucher and claim the money from us by the published 'claim by' date, usually around 6 months. Before you apply, make sure you can complete everything on time.
If you are unsuccessful you can try again. We do not provide feedback.
You may also be able to apply to other Innovation Voucher schemes operated locally or regionally. You can download a list of Innovation Voucher schemes here.
For example, Universities South West (USW) runs a scheme for SMEs based in the South West (except Cornwall). It offers funding for innovation projects that need research expertise. Eligible businesses may combine these resources to achieve greater impact. The European Regional Development Fund supports the USW scheme. For details visit www.usw.ac.uk/business or call 01392 241 301.
If you need to access university research equipment, equipment.data.ac.uk is a useful source of advice.
If you are know of any Innovation Vouchers scheme not listed here please contact us. You can email the details to firstname.lastname@example.org