SME Innovation Voucher Scheme

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


The 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 cutting-edge 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 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 project with clearly-defined tasks, deliverables and outcomes. Projects may, for example, focus on COVID-19 recovery and future-proofing your business, and may explore specific challenges, test new products or introduce new processes within your organisation. They may also involve a feasibility study or proof-of-concept - all designed to help your business to innovate and grow.

Each Innovation 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. 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

Our academics are experts in a wide range of disciplines, all of which you can access under the Scheme, for example:

Business, Innovation and Social Sciences

  • Blockchain, Digital Transformation
  • Retail, Hospitality and Tourism
  • Operations/Process Management
  • HR, Culture & Change Management
  • Diversity, Translation and Law
  • Digital Media Arts
  • Organisational & Behavioural Psychology
  • Energy and Health Economics

Engineering and Physical Sciences

  • Chemical & Process Engineering
  • Material Science
  • Civil and Mechanical Engineering
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Electronics, Communications
  • Vision, Speech & Signal Processing
  • Computer & Data Sciences and Cybersecurity
  • Maths, Physics, Robotics and Space

Health and Medical Sciences

  • Biosciences and Medicine
  • Clinical Research
  • Food and Consumer Behaviour
  • Psychology
  • Experimental Biology
  • Nutrition and Sports Sciences
  • Health Sciences and Technology
  • Sleep and Healthy Ageing
  • Veterinary Medicine

Application process

This year's vouchers will be allocated in four calls, the closing dates of which are: 

  • 27 November 2020
  • 29 January 2021 
  • 26 February 2021 
  • 26 March 2021.

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.

All projects must be completed by 19 September 2021.


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

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 may be awarded per SME; and no academic may lead more than one project under this year’s SME IV Scheme.

Preference will be given to proposals from established SMEs wishing to engage with the University and its academics for the first time. However, in exceptional circumstances, we may consider applications from existing SME partners wishing to establish a relationship with a new department and from academics proposing to lead more than one voucher project.

Applications will be reviewed by a selection 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 three-year fiscal period. This threshold is reduced to €20k (c. £18.5k) for businesses operating within agriculture and fisheries.

How to apply

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