Skip to main content

Future Innovation Fund FAQ

Yes, in order to check if you qualify please consider the following. Your company can be defined as being an SME if it meets two out of three following criteria: it has a turnover of less than £25m, it has fewer than 250 employees, it has gross assets of less than £12.5m.

The reason we specify a company to be registered on or before 31st March 2020 is because we require enough financial information be able to complete the level of necessary financial due diligence for the release of funds.

If there is good justification, the time period could change for future calls of this pilot programme. Regardless, those who don’t currently qualify (based on the 1 January 2020 date) are likely to be eligible to apply for the second round of funding expected to be announced later this year.

If there is an exceptional fit with the scope of the fund, and evidence of activity prior to January 2020 can be demonstrated, we will consider applications from organisations that registered after January 2020.

Please send this supporting document(s) to and detail this in the relevant box of the Eligibility Checklist.

There may be a number of reasons why profits are low or not extensive, such as being relatively recently set up, or being a social or not-for-profit business.

The level of current organisational profits is just one variable that the Future Innovation Fund pilot assessment process will look at to help discern the potential impact of grant funding a particular project.

The Future Innovation Fund team, and the wider Combined Authority, recognises the importance of the city region’s social businesses, including CICs, and understands that not all organisations who are eligible to apply for this fund, will have business models which prioritise profit.

An organisation can only lead on one application at a time. In addition, applicants are able to participate as a collaborator with other projects. If an applicant is involved in more than one project concurrently then this may be taken into account by the programme when considering deliverability capacity and risk of individual projects.

This project is aimed primarily at supporting the business community – subsequently only SMEs can be lead project partners. We do however welcome projects which involve collaborators in a supporting role – including Academic organisations.

Charities are not eligible. However, there is a separate dedicated fund to support charities: LCR Cares. Further information, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, can be found here.

Innovate UK have launched a scheme to help innovative businesses bounce back. The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

Click here to find out about more innovation funding competitions.

If you have received aid, including this grant request, over £180,000 (€200,000) over the last three years please refer to the State Aid eligibility guidance for further detail.

We appreciate that “innovation” can mean different things to different people. Innovation activities within the region range from R&D-intensive fundamental science carried out through our leading universities, to agile SME product, process & service innovation.

For this Pilot we have restricted our scope to target innovation where impact can be realised by applicant SMEs within 6 months from the date of the award of grant funding.

We are open to projects from any sector, speciality or technology (except those specifically excluded in the eligibility criteria). We do not hold any pre-conceived ideas as to what proposed innovations look like, but we are clear that all proposals must look to:

  • develop a new product, process or service which help the applicant organisation adapt and grow despite a challenging economic landscape;
  • deliver clear transformational benefits for the applicant SMEs and LCR economy;
  • align to at least one of the City Region’s six strategic priority areas (as outlined in the draft Local Industrial Strategy):
  1. Open Health Innovation
  2. Sustainable Industrial Future
  3. Global Cultural Capital
  4. Zero Carbon Economy
  5. Tech for Good
  6. Digitalisation

An action or process that creates value either economically or socially (including environmental). We would be looking for the applicant to show how their idea leads to a positive outcome in terms of measurable economic growth or social value.

As we work to maintain and enhance the economic success of the City Region, it is critical that the innovation projects we fund contribute towards building an inclusive and effective economy for the future. This recognises the importance of disrupting the longstanding and deep-rooted factors that constrain us from realising the full potential of the City Region economy, and the people that live and work here.

Achieving this will require actions to ensure:

  • More people are in well-paid, meaningful employment
  • Disadvantaged communities are given equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the economic success of the City Region
  • The economy grows in a way that is sustainable and considerate to the environment
  • That local supply chains are strengthened and developed more fully

Examples of social value demonstrator could include:

  • Connecting with a secondary school and/or college to help inspire and inform the next generation about careers
  • Developing skills and training plans that include an apprenticeship scheme
  • Offering training to low paid staff to help them upskill and progress
  • Offering work opportunities and experiences to local people with disabilities or health issues
  • Providing sustainable ‘green travel’ ways for employees to travel for business and to commute to work
  • Undertaking an efficiency audit to identify ways to reduce waste and lower energy and water consumption
  • Undertaking a supply chain audit to identify opportunities to buy more from local suppliers
  • Paying small business suppliers in line with the Prompt Payment Code, including a commitment to pay suppliers within 60 days and work towards adopting 30 days as the norm.
  • Committing to paying employees the real Living Wage with an agreed timescale, in accordance with the LCR Fair Employment Charter

There is no expectation for a project to deliver on all of the listed areas of social value. The questions in the application have been asked and included in a way to help guide applicants to deliver a comprehensive answer when considering social value. Future intent and aspiration may be included, and is indeed expected by newer/more emerging companies.

Yes, the applicant will have to demonstrate why public funding is needed, reasons will include lack of company’s own resources to fund the project in full, inability to source finance from other sources, and/or the project addresses market failure.

You will retain ownership of the intellectual property of anything that you produce using funding from the Future Innovation Fund. We do not generally intend to take any licence or other interest in any intellectual property rights produced, however we may do so in specific cases where there is an opportunity for an output of your project to be used to benefit the Liverpool City Region without adversely impacting on your business.

Projects may be longer than 6 months, but the activities funded by the grant must be able to demonstrate deliverables within 6 months.

In most cases, if you comply with the terms of your Grant Funding Agreement and use the Grant for the intended purpose you will not have to repay it. However, if your project is very successful and generates substantial profits for your organisation, we may ask you to repay your grant out of these profits to enable reinvestment into further innovation schemes within the Liverpool City Region.

The applicant business name will be recorded in the central application form. There is no requirement to record the business name in the Financial Breakdown Form as every document will be assigned a reference number, pulling from the central application form, which will be used to identify the various parts of your application.

Due to the high volume of applications we expect, and for transparency, only questions relating to accessibility will be dealt with over the phone. All other questions MUST be sent directly to Best endeavours will be made to respond to all emails within 3 working days and questions and responses will be included in this FAQ document which will also be updated regularly.

The fund provides grant funding, eligible costs are detailed in the Application Guidance document.

Ineligible Expenditure:

  • Costs already claimed from another grant;
  • Notional costs;
  • Provisions – i.e. money set aside to pay for future events;
  • Contingencies or contingent liabilities;
  • Payments for activity of a political nature;
  • Bank charges;
  • Recoverable VAT
  • Statutory fines or penalties;
  • Criminal fines or damages;
  • Payments for gifts or donations; and
  • Any project cost that cannot be satisfactorily be included in any one cost category as defined in the application guidance.

Yes, but we will only cover those that can demonstrate to be project specific. This fund is not to be used as working capital for ‘business as usual’ operations.

Yes, as long as it is considered eligible by the third-party funder.

We will consider in kind match funding where it is reasonable, and project specific.

One of our key priorities is to ensure that best value is achieved from the use of our funding. We therefore encourage all applicants to seek to obtain match funding wherever possible. However, we appreciate that it will not always be possible to secure match funding and therefore high quality, innovative projects without match funding which score highly on other criteria may receive priority for funding.

Yes, but only in a minority of exceptional cases. Funding may be considered outside of the £25k-£75k bracket where there is an exceptionally strong fit between the project and the objectives and scope of this fund.

The Defrayment of expenditure should be evident through bank statements. Additional evidence may be required if the expenditure is not clear from the statement. Additional evidence provided could include:

  • Direct Financial Information System Reports;
  • Certified copies of cheque stubs; and
  • Remittance Slips.

Accrued costs can be evidenced by demonstrating that the goods/service for the project have been received. Accruals stemming from products and services can be evidenced by submitting an invoice that matches with claimed timescales of purchase. The certified copy of the invoice should include a clear description of the goods/services and when this was received. Delivery Notes could also be provided to support this. Salaries/staff costs can be evidenced by submitting the relevant time sheets.

Salary claims should include the name, job title and hours for each member of staff claimed for. Examples of evidence of salary expenditure for staff funded through the project as indicated in the project description include:

  • Authorised timesheets which clearly indicate the time allocated to the project.
  • Certified copies of pay slips, showing salary and on-costs e.g. NI and pension payments;
  • Direct Financial Information System Reports; and
  • Agency invoice
    Any staff costs that can be recovered back from HMRC should not be included on the claim.

Staffing costs can be evidenced by pay slips or similar and timesheets which will be provided by the programme team. Further evidence may be asked for by the back office team either at the time of claim or at a point in the future. Costs should only include staff time spent directly on the project proposed. Labour costs are capped at 80% of salary (for time directly spent on the project) up to a maximum of £2,500 per person per month.

Please see our application guidance here for further information.

Once successful applicants have signed their grant funding agreement which indicates when the project will start, finish, and what are the project deliverables, they will be issued with an advanced payment request form. By completing and submitting this form, applicants will be signing to say that their project will commence within 28 days. Upon receipt of the completed form, the Combined Authority shall pay 50% of the total eligible project costs up front. At the end of the project, the grant recipient should submit a final claim evidencing all spend on a defrayment basis, upon which, the remaining balance shall be paid.

Monitoring and evaluation is important to help ensure that we track the impact and effectiveness of the investments that we make through the Future Innovation Fund. This will help us to identify and understand which of our activities are working well and less well, so that we can continually improve and enhance our impact.
The main monitoring requirements are:

  • All grant recipients will be required to submit a delivery plan to the CA within 20 business days of signing the grant agreement
  • Recipients of more than £30,000 will be expected to send quarterly monitoring reports to the LCRCA in a format prescribed by the CA
  • All grant recipients will need to submit a final closure report at the end of their project (failure to submit the final closure report will trigger a clawback of funding).

The Combined Authority may also contact grant recipients after the completion of the project to invite them to participate in research to inform a wider impact evaluation.

Applicants are welcome to reapply for future calls if they are unsuccessful first time around. The eligibility may evolve over the course of the scheme, so be sure to check the latest requirements and guidelines.

We will not sign bespoke NDAs for individual applicants as all applications will be treated with an equal level of confidentiality. All assessors will be required to sign a declaration of confidentiality and non-disclosure in relation to the information contained in all applications, and all Combined Authority staff are already subject to a duty of confidentiality as part of their terms of employment.

If you have a question then please do get in touch with us.