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Innovation funding

Innovation Vouchers




Copernicus case study



Jacobite case study

The Innovation Voucher scheme is aimed at building relationships between SME's and HEI's in Scotland and is worth up to £5000, with a minimum of £1000.

The awards are specifically intended to encourage new partnerships that have not previously collaborated or jointly received funding from any source previously so as to build links between Scotland’s Higher Education Institutes and small businesses. In particular the vouchers should encourage a longer, sustained relationship between companies and HEI's rather than just offset the costs of the business purchasing a service from a HEI. The company contribution for this can be 'in kind' or cash. Standard innovation vouchers applications are accepted on an on-going basis. Projects must commence within 4 weeks of approval and generally should be completed 3 months after start date. Contact catherine.pearks@uhi.ac.uk. for full details or see the summary document available below.

Notes on the 2015 expansion of the Innovation Voucher programme in three new distinct ways;

Research Institutions - in conjunction with Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) of Scottish Government this scheme is being extended to include Research Institutions such as the James Hutton Institute and Moredun Institute. This is to encourage greater collaboration between SMEs and the Government’s Research Institutes.
Colleges - over the coming months Interface will be piloting the extension of the Innovation Voucher programme to Colleges in Scotland. Our initial pilot will be with the Construction industry, in a programme developed with the help of the recently launched Construction Innovation Centre.
Student Placements - interface are developing closer links between Innovation Vouchers and Student Placements in a new development whereby companies can benefit from a post-graduate student to help embed the outputs from a completed innovation voucher project into their business. A PhD or Masters student will be placed within the company to continue the initial development and work on a clearly defined short project/timeframe with the intention that the outputs of the Voucher project can be more effectively translated into business value.

More details on all the Interface administered funding schemes on their website - click this link.

Making an application

The Innovation Voucher funding calls are on going for 2016 - applications are accepted on an on-going basis, with a 3 week review target.

Your UHI contact to submit an application, general guidance and for administration once an application is accepted is catherine.pearks@uhi.ac.uk. You can find details and documentation required to complete an application direct from the Interface website.

The Follow-on Scheme can be the next stage, once an IV project has been completed, and is specifically intended to encourage existing partnerships that have previously collaborated. Here, funding is granted for £5,000-£20,000 but this time the level of grant requested must be matched in cash by the company. The application dates here are slightly different to above, being Friday 29th January 2016, Friday 25th March 2016, Friday 27th May 2016, Friday 29th July 2016.

If the Follow-on Voucher is not thought suitable a KTP might be viable - see the KTP PAGE for a summary of this scheme, or speak to Joe.

Key documents and contacts

SFC Innovation Voucher Summary (pdf)
SFC IV guidelines 2016 (word)
UHI Guidance on VAT (pdf)
SFC Student Placement Voucher (pdf)

For technical or strategic information on SFC Innovation Vouchers or Follow-on IV's your main contact is joe.irvine@uhi.ac.uk. He can help in the preparations for making an application, preparing the application and general technical information regarding both schemes to help ensure your application is accepted.

Your contact to submit an application, general guidance and for administration once an application is accepted is catherine.pearks@uhi.ac.uk.

As of late 2012 the TSB also started offering their own Innovation Vouchers - these are separate from the SFC vouchers but we are still awaiting exact clarification of the rules regarding the cross-over between the two schemes. Details will appear here as soon as we have them. Meantime, you can find out more about the TSB scheme on the TSB website

Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Scheme

The Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Scheme is aimed at supporting Scottish based SMEs (Small to Medium sized Enterprises) to explore the opportunities of Horizon 2020 funding and apply for particular schemes or calls under it, with the assistance of a Scottish Higher Education Institute (HEI).

The purpose of the scheme is to encourage SMEs to engage more effectively with European Funding, under H2020. Academics or European officers within HEIs can offer expertise and experience to advise and facilitate appropriate consortium building and support towards full H2020 application for the SME. The award will be paid to the HEI on submission of a completed final report and HEI costs will be reimbursed by the SFC (Note: the grant will not be paid to the SME or any in-kind costs reimbursed.) Applications to the scheme should be submitted as early as possible in advance of calls.

How to Apply: The call for applications is currently open with deadlines of the first Monday of each month and the application must be submitted by the HEI partner - key documents in the section below.

Key documents and contacts

H2020 SME engagement pre-submission (docx)
H2020 SME engagement application (docx)
H2020 SME engagement guidance notes (docx)

For technical or strategic information or general enquiries on H2020 SME Engagement applications your main contact is catherine.pearks@uhi.ac.uk. She can help preparations for any application, technical information, and will coordinate cross-partner bids.

Innovation Events

The Converge Challenge is a high profile pan-Scotland business competition and entrepreneurship development programme for staff, students, recent graduates and a non-trading or trading company (for less than 6 months and with a turnover less than £50K with University support) of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes aimed at creating a new generation of entrepreneurs in Scotland. They work with any industry sector, product or service-based ideas at any stage of the development. Over the last four years, the programme has attracted 260 applications, engaged with 120 projects, from which around 30% went on to create companies. 4 out of 5 of these businesses have secured follow-on funding which currently stands at £9million.

Participants are generally technology companies with significant growth potential so by engaging with Converge UHI has a chance to be associated with the most exciting, innovative projects coming out of the Scottish research base and with one of the key initiatives within Scotland's entrepreneurial community.

Want to develop your idea for a new business, product or process?

Do you have an idea for a new commercial enterprise, product or process or would you simply want to learn more about what support is out there (in case you have an idea in the future), then come along to one of the University of the Highlands and Islands entrepreneurship roadshow events in February. The events are open to all staff and students and refreshments and a sandwich lunch will be available at each venue. 

There will be short presentations from representatives from 3 enterprise programmes: Converge Challenge, the Enterprise Fellowship programme (Royal Society of Edinburgh) and Enterprise Campus. Each scheme is aimed at developing entrepreneurship within Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions. The speakers will also be available for one to one meeting after the presentation, as required. The dates and venues for the 2016 roadshow are: 

Entrepreneurship and postgraduate students

Supporting your business idea

Do you have the desire and ambition to start your own business? Postgraduate research students who are looking for support to develop a business idea should make contact with joe.irvine@uhi.ac.uk (Head of Knowledge Exchange) in the first instance to discuss. As a taster of the type of schemes available to support your business ideas, links on our graduate school pages will provide some background information, but there are many avenues to explore, so please speak to Joe for guidance once you are familiar with some of the available options.



SMART: SCOTLAND is an initiative from Scottish Enterprise to provide grants to Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based in Scotland. The grant is intended to help undertake technical feasibility studies and research and development (R&D) projects that have a commercial endpoint.

A two page leaflet describing the process of applying to the programme is also available as a 1Mb pdf - SMART programme  

A selection of case studies are provided below to give a flavour of the type of ideas and projects that have benefited from the initiative so far:



Joe.irvine@uhi.ac.uk (Head of Knowledge Exchange) is your contact in the first instance to discuss any ideas you think might benefit (and qualify) for SMART funding.