The Innovate UK Delivery Plan typically launches every year in April. It outlines how the core budget allocated by the UK government is going to be used to invest in innovation and growth for UK business. However, due to purdah, Innovate UK have yet to release its Delivery plan for 2017/18.
For those businesses currently trying to plan funding applications for their 2017/18 projects, this is an incredibly frustrating situation. So, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you better understand the bid-writing process, improve your methods and increase the chances of a successful application.
A guide to bid-writing & submitting applications for grant funding
There is so much more to writing and submitting an application for funding than organisations can initially think. Depending on the funding source you are applying to, there are varying levels of complexity, criteria and guidelines involved that need to be carefully considered.
The key to bid-writing success lies in:
- having a clear and strategic understanding of the whole competition process from day one
- not underestimating the intensity of work or type of key skills involved
- investing the right time, skills and resources needed to ensure a thorough and coherent application
- effective planning to ensure that funding opportunities are spotted and that when this happens the necessary plans and resources are ready and in place to benefit from this
Here are our top considerations when writing or submitting an application for grant funding:
1. Consider the key skills required for completing an application
Writing a bid may at first seem like a simple process of completing some forms, attaching some documentation and sending it all off. However, writing a successful bid actually requires some key skills that applicants may not have in-house. From coordinating information, writing with coherence and clarity of language, financial skills and the ability to sell your ideas through the power of the written-word. Having support from an innovation consultancy that understands the grant funding financial rules is also important; so that you don’t miss out on all the funding you are entitled to.
2. Be Strategic
Adopting a strategic approach to your application and the process of completing it will increase the chances of your bid being successful. Be clear at the start what the project is, what it is trying to achieve, what’s innovative about it, how it will be delivered and understand the technology’s potential outcomes, both for yourself and for UK PLC’s wider industrial agenda.
3. Great business models, technologies and project planning are all important
Great technology ideas can be let down by poor business models or project plans, or vice versa. Take the time to ensure that you develop the details of all these elements equally for your application.
4. Ensure good coverage of skills and capabilities
If there are a number of quite different organisations collaborating to create the bid, identifying any gaps early on in the process will ensure that you have the coverage and experience needed to succeed together. Also consider and describe how you will manage a consortium, both during and after the project.
5. Have an exploitation strategy
Something that many who apply for funding often forget about, but it’s very important. The presence of at least an outline exploitation strategy is essential for most applications. Try to include details on how the project will continue after initial funding has lapsed, what is required to bring the project to market and how soon the project could start generating an income of its own.
6. Read and follow the guidelines
it sounds obvious, but often organisations can be so passionate about their exciting new idea that they forget to read the questions properly and actually provide what is being asked for. Read the guidelines, make sure you are eligible and when writing the application ensure you use plain, clear language that sounds interesting but isn’t complicated. Remember, applications are read by people who have little or no idea about who you are or what you do. So keep it simple.
7. Ensure you have a good idea before you start
Whilst you may consider your new idea a ‘good’ one, from the funders perspective it is only a ‘good’ idea if it meets a specific set of criteria and is therefore viable and workable. Use the criteria set out by the funders to determine this as soon as possible, so that you don’t waste any of your time. Funders set-out a number of clear criteria for new ideas, such as ensuring it meets an important or urgent market need, it complements existing provision, involves collaboration or is simply realistic and achievable. Whatever it is, make sure you are clear from the start.
8. Plan ahead
Ensuring you are aware of available funding opportunities as early as possible can sometimes be difficult because funders may not release information very far in advance of a submission deadline. However, allowing as much time as possible to plan, research, write and submit your application is key to ensuring success. Poorly researched or submitted applications can also reflect negatively on your organisation – so ensure a well-rounded application by involving other contributors as early in the process as possible.
9. Check & Double Check
when your first draft is completed make sure you get somebody else to review it to ensure it answers the questions asked and is easy to understand. As with before, don’t use jargon, use clear language and remember to send all of the supporting documents that are requested. You may not believe it, but applications can often be rejected immediately if anything is missing or incomplete. So check, check and double-check.
Applying for grant funding, developing collaborations and writing bids doesn’t have to be an intense or difficult process for you. We have an extensive understanding of the UK Funding landscape, and are able to support with your application for funding wherever you may currently be in the process.
Over the last five years we’ve maintained a consistently high win-rate for all applications we have made on behalf of our clients to funding sources such as Innovate UK.
If we can help you develop an application for funding, talk to us today +44 (0) 1327 703350