Is Your Project Qualified to take a Slice of £1 Million of Funding?

Innovate UK, the agency dedicated to promoting UK business growth through investment in innovation and design, has announced a huge opportunity for cutting edge businesses. £1 million of funding has been made available for “early stage, human centred design projects.”

If your project explores something truly new and exciting, then you should take advantage of this opportunity. The more disruptive, the better. Innovate UK have made a list of criteria your project will need to meet to qualify:

Key Qualifiers

Your project must cost between £10,000-£40,000 and last up to 3 months. Innovate UK have pledged to fund up to 70% of those costs! Your project must use the human centred design process as a part of the development process.

Human centred design is the process of using design tools to create products, services and experiences that have a deep understanding and empathy for the needs of people. Smallfry has used this process for decades, recently helping our partner Quanta to develop a dialysis machine that can be used in the home, radically improving patient’s daily lives.

Completed prototype of the medical dialysis device for Quanta
Quanta utilises user centred design to bring dialysis into the home

Funded Activities

Innovate UK lists what they consider fundable activities:

  1. Engaging with customers, user’s and stakeholders
  2. Identifying high value innovation opportunities
  3. Generating propositions for new products, services and business models

This means that Innovate UK is directly investing in the user centred design process. This process broadly speaking is as follows: the deep empathetic research of user needs, the creation and evaluation of design solutions and finally the delivery of one product, service or experience that best suits the user’s desires. Projects that don’t invest in user centred design early on, discover after months of investment that people don’t actually want what they’ve made! Back to square one.

For this reason your project will only be able to receive funding if it uses these steps to deliver a solution.

By ignoring user centred design projects suffer serious consequences down the line
Smallfry uses user centred design to challenge our assumptions and re-frame problems to create innovate solutions that meet a real need.

Business Values

Innovate UK is keen to fund projects that have the right principles. Your project should seek to understand customer motivation and behaviour. Are you empathetic to you user’s needs?

You should seek to inspire new ideas or refine current ones. Are you creating something new and bold?

You should use an informed innovation strategy. Are you familiar with the user centred design process we’ve described above?

If you couldn’t answer yes to all the questions above, don’t worry you can still qualify for funding. Innovate UK encourages you to work with “experienced design professionals” to help you engage with the user centred design process. This may be as the lead applicant, project partner or as a sub-contractor. User centred design is a skill that has been honed by design professionals for decades, take advantage of that experience!

Summary of Innovate UK’s funding criteria

Innovate UK continues to pioneer investment in British design, we at Smallfry are excited to see how these projects take on the world.

If you’re not sure how to gear your project towards user centred design, we can help. If you want to know more, contact us now and learn more about our history partnering with innovative start-ups.