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Future Innovation Fund FAQ

Applications must be submitted by 23:59pm on Monday 6th July 2020.

Innovation means different things to different people. For the purpose of this fund, we are looking for examples of how you will apply better solutions to meet new or existing needs. This could be done through developing a new product or service, or by implementing new processes to deliver new or existing products or services.

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.

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

We will fund projects for companies that have their base or significant operations in LCR (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and/or Wirral).

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

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.

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

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.

The anticipated turnaround time to process applications is 14 working days.

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.

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 futureinnovationfund@growthplatform.org. 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.

All eligible applications will be set to an external assessor. The assessor will score the application based on its strategic fit, deliverability, value for money, and ability to deliver social value. Each section will be marked out of 100. A minimum score of 60 must be achieved in each section for the application to be considered for funding. All applications that meet this hurdle criteria will be selected for funding on a portfolio basis.

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.

The applicant will have the opportunity to draw down (up to) three grant payments throughout the project, where no individual grant claim shall exceed £35,000, only in very specific cases this cap will be reconsidered, and only after the applicant providing with a strong rationale as to why. The number of grants and periodicity will be agreed on a project specific basis. In order to help applicants kickstart the project grants will be paid as follows:
A) The FIF will pay the grants on an accrual basis. This means applicants will need to provide evidence that the goods/service has been received in order to claim a payment (e.g. you want to buy a piece of equipment, we will ask you to provide evidence through a delivery note, or invoice to be paid, and you will be able to claim the cost). Pro forma invoices or invoices for goods in advance will not be accepted unless it can be evidenced that the goods/service has been received. For the accrual payment we will not ask for evidence of the invoice being paid, just the items/services being received. We encourage all applicants to factor this in their forecasted claims and expenditure to minimise the impact on cash flows.
B) If you have to submit a second (or subsequent) claim, we will ask you to provide evidence of accrual as per point A, but we will also ask you to evidence defrayment of the first claim.

Only expenditure, including staff costs, that are in line with the approved project description as defined in the grant funding agreement can be claimed. All spend must be incurred and defrayed during the grant funding period.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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, 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.

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.

For national funding visit Innovate UK

For information about sector specific support visit our dedicated page here.

The reason we specify a company to be registered on or before 1st January 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 futureinnovationfund@growthplatform.org and detail this in the relevant box of the Eligibility Checklist.

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.

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.

Yes, but only in a minority of exceptional cases. Funding may be considered outside of the £25k-£100k bracket where there is an exceptionally strong fit between the project and the objectives and scope of this fund.

The applicant business name will be recorded in the central application form. There is no requirement to record the business name in the Eligibility Checklist or 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.

The Self Certification Eligibility Form can be found at the bottom of the Future Innovation Fund information page on the Growth Platform website here.

The Application Process document is for guidance only, this is not the application. The application must be completed via the ‘Apply Now’ online form on the Growth Platform website.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

If you have a question then please do get in touch with us.
futureinnovationfund@growthplatform.org