What is the Innovation Vouchers Programme?
Innovation Vouchers scheme offers up to £2,500 to help small to medium sized enterprises create innovation and growth
SMEs in need of a cash injection to drive innovation and growth could be eligible for up to £2,500 in this year’s Innovation Vouchers scheme.
For every £1 a company can put up towards innovation and growth will be matched with a £1 contribution from the project. The typical Innovation Voucher is £2,500 which means eligible businesses can unlock a total business innovation fund of £5,000 to access external expertise with knowledge base organisations (research institutes).*
Applications must be for future projects, which can be complete within a three month period on being approved.
The EU funded initiative, managed by Aston University in partnership with Birmingham City University, was set up to help smaller businesses pay for new processes and systems that will improve efficiency and help bring new products to market.
The money can be spent on various activities, which can be found on our Eligibile activities section
Professor Nicholas Theodorakopoulos, Professor of Entrepreneurship Development and Associate Dean International at Aston Business School, alongside Director of the Innovation Vouchers project (pictured in the above video) said: “Aston has a long history of working with SMEs. Innovation Vouchers were launched to promote external knowledge sharing in business. The regional scheme will provide start-up, small or medium-sized enterprises with the opportunity to collaborate with external experts to gain new knowledge to help their business innovate, develop and grow.
After the success of the 2013 – 16, and 2016 – 19 Innovation Voucher programmes, Aston has – in partnership with Birmingham City University – received funding from the European Regional Developing Fund (ERDF) to work with SMEs in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Redditch, Bromsgrove, and the Wyre Forest.”
The support we plan to provide will comply with the State Aid rules using the de minimis exemption (in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013, OJ L 352/1). Under this exemption a single undertaking may receive up to the limit of €200,000 of De Minimis aid from the Member State within which it does business and which provides the aid over any period of three fiscal years. As part of the Innovation Voucher application process you will be asked to complete the Statement of Previous Aid received under the De Minimis exemption and arrange for a director of your business to sign it. Using this information we will assess your eligibility to receive assistance.
The estimated value of De Minimis aid you will receive by receiving a grant through the Innovation Vouchers 3 programme is €1,677.33 (for a grant of £1,500) or €2,795.54 (for a grant of £2,500) at the relevant exchange rate dated July 2019. An up-to-date figure may be supplied to successful applicants. It is your responsibility to ensure that the value of the aid you receive does not cause you to exceed the State Aid threshold.
Businesses that meet the following criteria can apply:
- Must have a registered or trading address in one of the target LEP areas; Birmingham, Solihull, Redditch, Bromsgrove, and Wyre Forest (based on Kidderminster);
- Businesses in an eligible sector;
- Have not received an Innovation Voucher in the current phase of the programme;
- Have received less than €200,000 de minimis state aid in the last three years*;
- Meet the European Union definition of a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) i.e. employ less than 250 full-time staff (or equivalent), have an annual turnover of no more than 50 million euros and/or annual balance sheet no more than 43 million euros;
- Able to contribute a minimum of £2,500 (ex. VAT) to match fund the grant (based on an Innovation Voucher of £2,500 allocated to a company that is VAT registered). Note – the project costs cannot include bank or legal fees associated with paying the supplier;
- Meet the eligibility activity guidelines for use of the Innovation Voucher