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16 November 2020

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Surrey University - SME Innovation Voucher Scheme



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 academic know-how and which may require 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 within your organisation – all designed to help your business to innovate and grow.

Each voucher fully covers the cost of the University’s services provided to successful applicant companies, including the academics’ time and associated expenditure.  Individual vouchers are expected to be valued at between £5,000 and £10,000 each. 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

  • 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

Our current funding round has closed. Dates for future rounds will be advertised in due course.


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 have an annual turnover of less than £50m or a balance sheet total of less than £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.

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

We reserve the right to close the scheme early if demand is high and all funds have been allocated.

Our current funding round has closed. Dates for future rounds will be advertised in due course.

State Aid (De Minimis) Regulation

The Innovation Vouchers Scheme is subject to European State Aid (De Minimis) reglations which state that beneficiary companies must not receive more than €200k (c. £185k) of De Minimis aid over a rolling 3-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 collaborate@surrey.ac.uk to discuss your business needs and potential areas of collaboration. Dan will then guide you through the application process.

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