Innovation Voucher Scheme

The University of Surrey’s Innovation Voucher Scheme funds collaborative projects between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and our world-class academics.


The Innovation Voucher Scheme aims to cultivate closer ties between UK-based SMEs and the University of Surrey. It provides businesses with an introduction to working with the University with a view to developing new partnerships and identifying opportunities for further collaboration.  The vouchers enable SMEs to harness the University’s world-class academic expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, explore complex challenges facing business, drive product innovation and accelerate growth.


Each project should tackle a genuine challenge faced by an SME - an issue which can only be addressed with the help of expert academic know-how and may include the use of specialist facilities - and must be delivered by the University of Surrey.

We will work with you to understand your business needs and introduce you to relevant academics to scope an innovative, exploratory project with clearly-defined tasks, deliverables and outcomes.

Projects may, for example, explore specific challenges, involve a feasibility study or proof-of-concept, test new products or introduce new processes - all designed to help your organisation to innovate and grow.

Each voucher fully covers the cost of the services provided by the University and is expected to be valued at between £5,000 and £10,000. Innovative projects requiring larger amounts may be considered where the value can be justified.

The scheme will cover in full the costs of the University’s services provided to successful applicant companies. No money will be paid to the SMEs, which will be responsible for their own costs or contribution towards their projects.

Areas of academic expertise

We have a host of specialisms you can access under the Scheme, for example:

Business, innovation and social sciences

  • Business transformation
  • Change management
  • Detailed market analysis
  • Media and digital economy
  • Organisational and behavioural psychology
  • Strategic thinking
  • Sustainable enterprise

Engineering and physical sciences

  • Chemical and process engineering
  • Civil, electronic and mechanical engineering
  • Energy systems
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Material science
  • Maths, computer science and cybersecurity
  • Physics

Health and medical sciences

  • Biosciences and medicine
  • Clinical research
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Experimental biology
  • Food and nutrition
  • Health sciences
  • Sleep and healthy ageing
  • Veterinary medicine

Application process


To be eligible for a voucher your company must be a UK-based micro, small or medium-sized business with fewer than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than £50m or a balance sheet total of under £43m.

Preference will be given to proposals from SMEs which have not worked with the University before. However, in exceptional circumstances, we may consider funding projects in which an existing SME partner establishes a new relationship with a different department.

None of the University staff members or interns (or their families) delivering an Innovation Voucher project can have an interest in the beneficiary SME, e.g. be a shareholder or director.

Terms and conditions

The total number of vouchers is limited. No more than one voucher will be allocated per SME.

Vouchers will be allocated in three calls, the closing dates of which are: 

  • 6 December 2019
  • 17 January 2020
  • 14 February 2020.

However, the available funding is limited. Therefore, we reserve the right to close the scheme early if demand is high and all funds have been allocated.

Please note, projects must be completed by 12 June 2020.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel and awards granted at the discretion of the scheme administrators.

State Aid (De Minimis) Regulation

The Innovation Vouchers Scheme is subject to European State Aid (De Minimis) regulations which state that beneficiary companies must not receive more than €200k (c. £185k) of De Minimis aid over a rolling 3-year fiscal period.

How to apply

Please contact the Scheme Manager, Dan Bance, at to discuss your business needs and potential areas of collaboration with the University of Surrey. Dan will then guide you through the application process.

Other funding

There are other sources to help support your business such as:

  • Special financial support is available for SMEs as part of the INCluSilver project which aims to support SMEs in the field of personalised nutrition for the silver economy.
  • The Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology (SPRINT) programme provides support to SMEs, helping them to compete and grow using space technologies and applications.
  • Our Impact Acceleration Account scheme accelerates the exploitation of current or recently completed funded EPSRC research, through the increased engagement with key stakeholders and project partners. We can provide your organisation with a range of opportunities including access to funding for pilot projects.
  • Our Business Team can help your organisation to identify and apply for Innovate UK funding.

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