Innovation Vouchers

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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).

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.”

Businesses that meet the following criteria can apply:


  • Located in one of the target LEP areas
  • Have received less than Euros 200,000 de minimis state aid in the last three years;
  • Meet the European Union definition of a small and medium-sized enterprise 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 to match fund the grant;
  • Meet the eligibility guidelines for use of the Innovation Voucher

Suitable Business Types

  • Start-ups of all sizes, whether or not VAT registered
  • Self-employed & sole traders
  • Partnerships/limited liability partnerships
  • Companies (private or public limited companies; private unlimited companies)
  • Independent spin-outs from established businesses, universities and other research and development organisations;
  • Not for profit companies, co-operatives, community enterprises, social enterprises
  • Farm enterprises
  • New to the region branches of businesses which remain established elsewhere in the UK (i.e. expansions)
  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) bringing new enterprises to the region;
  • Time investment and subsequent expansions

Eligible Sectors

Companies from priority sectors (and those associated with these sectors) will be given priority access to the grants (see table below).


  • Birmingham
  • Solihull
  • Redditch
  • Bromsgrove
  • Wyre Forest (based upon Kidderminster)

Priority Sectors:

  • Advanced Manufacturing including Automotive and Aerospace
  • Low Carbon
  • ICT
  • Digital and Creative
  • Life Science
To apply for an innovation voucher, or to contact us with any questions, please use the contact form