Business innovation is essential if the UK wants a more robust, equitable economy and a sustainable future. The UK has the breadth and depth of research, innovation, and technological capabilities to lead the response to global challenges.
There are significant opportunities for UK businesses to understand and respond to these vital global challenges, whether making Britain a clean energy superpower or leading the development of ethical AI.
To 2025, Innovate UK will focus its core funding support for innovation in three key domains: Net Zero, Healthy Living & Agriculture, and Digital & Technologies. It aims to incentivise UK businesses to innovate and leverage further private sector investment in these priority areas. This strategic focus is in addition to a number of existing legacy programmes, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund (ISCF) and the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) programme.
Innovate UK Priority 1: Net Zero
Innovate UK’s vision is for the UK to become the fastest transitioning economy to net zero and address UKRI’s strategic theme, Building a Green Future.
Innovate UK’s focus includes investing over £1.2 billion in Net Zero to 2025, with new programmes focused on key net zero themes:
- Power: Develop new energy vectors to fuel vehicles, heat buildings, and drive industry forward.
- Mobility: Move to electrified and net-zero powertrains and reduce carbon through the digitalisation of transport.
- Heat: Move away from gas heating space and water in all buildings.
- Net Zero Living: Develop new products and services that transform where we live and work into net zero places.
- Make and Use: Transform industry into an advanced, resilient and responsible system.
- Green Finance: Increase private investment into green businesses and support their scale-up.
- Circular Critical Materials: Develop supply chain resilience in various mineral raw materials.
Innovate UK Priority 2: Healthy Living & Agriculture
Building on the Government’s Life Sciences Vision, Innovate UK’s vision is to enable people to live longer, healthier lives by driving transformational change and realise the UK’s position as a world leader in life sciences. This supports UKRI’s strategic themes: Securing Better Health, Ageing and Wellbeing; Tackling Infections; Building a Green Future; and Creating Opportunities, Improving Outcomes.
Across Innovate UK’s strategic funding, Catapults, and ISCF challenges, it will invest over £600 million in Healthy Living and Agriculture by 2025.
This includes investing in new programmes to
- Promote: Healthier living through innovation in products and services; Improved diet and nutrition.
- Predict: Onset of disease and enable earlier interventions; Climatic and global instability shocks; Food demands; Supply chain challenges.
- Prevent: Major societal health threats, including chronic diseases and infections; Crop and livestock disease.
- Provide: Improved disease management; Transformative medicines and tools for self-management; Transformative and efficient manufacture and supply of medicine; Safe, healthy, and affordable food for all.
- Produce: Efficient, healthy, and sustainable food; New medicines.
This priority area also supports innovation infrastructure, so that by 2030 the UK is the country of choice for Medicines Manufacturing, Technology and Innovation translation and scale-up for Life Sciences.
Innovate UK will expand its Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) programme, the primary grant funding mechanism for supporting UK health and life sciences SMEs. This will be delivered through three streams of competitions:
- BMC Accelerator-Feasibility: for start-up or early-stage companies, allowing them to gain a foundation in entrepreneurship, experience the business ecosystem, and develop new knowledge and skills, with an opportunity to gain financial support for market and technology feasibility studies.
- BMC Industry-led R&D: Grant funding for industry-led innovation projects.
- BMC Investor Partnerships: To de-risk private investment in later-stage projects. Funding is matched by private investors.
Innovate UK Priority 3: Digital and Technologies
Building on the Government’s Innovation, National AI and Cyber Strategies, as well as the Integrated Review, Innovate UK will identify and catalyse digital and other technologies, support their deployment and adoption to transform existing sectors and companies, and enable the emergence of new sectors and companies to meet societal and environmental needs. This will address UKRI’s strategic theme, Building a Secure and Resilient World.
Across Innovate UK’s Strategic funding, Catapults, and ISCF challenges, it will invest over £380 million in Digital and Technologies by 2025.
For this priority area, Innovate UK will invest in new programmes focused on five key areas:
- Creative Catalyst: Supporting creative industries in the UK.
- Bridge AI: Encouraging the adoption and diffusion of Artificial Intelligence in low-maturity, high-growth potential sectors.
- Quantum: Continue to deliver the Commercialising Quantum Technologies Challenge, which builds on the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.
- Services: Transforming the efficiency and resilience of professional services.
- Semiconductors: Supporting the UK to become a global leader in semiconductors.