What is the Industrial Strategy – and what’s in it for my business?

What is the Industrial Strategy – and what’s in it for my business?

Put simply, the Industrial Strategy is an initiative developed by the current UK government to help stimulate UK business growth. It aims to strengthen our economy, while enabling businesses to grow and become more profitable. In 2016, the government invested 1.6% of GDP into R&D, and this will increase to 2.4% by 2027, providing additional finance to innovative businesses in specific sectors.

But what exactly is the strategy? And how can you benefit? If your business or business idea relates to one of four very specific ‘industries of the future’, then you may be able to access additional funding, advice, and support.


One strategy, four Grand Challenges


Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The UK government has set up an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which will invest a huge £725 million over the coming years.

To make sure the funding is allocated in the best possible way, for business and the economy, the government has devised four ‘Grand Challenges’ that will put the UK at the forefront of ‘the industries of the future’. To identify these grand challenges, the government worked with businesses and technical experts to identify development areas where the UK has three distinct advantages:

    1. World-leading research;
    2. Businesses ready to innovate; and
    3. A sustainable global market.

There are 4 quite broad industry sectors that will benefit, meaning many business owners, entrepreneurs, and universities, may be able to apply:

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund - sectors


This infographic from ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales) shows just how much money will be invested over the next few years – and this amount is increasing all the time. For example, a recent government review has led to an additional £2.5 billion in funding being made available for businesses that are founded on the basis of complex technological or scientific ideas, that have very long development times, and require funding over an extended period of time, otherwise known as ‘patient capital’.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund - ICAEW investment infographic

Reproduced by kind permission of ICAEW (copyright). Visit icaew.com/industrialstrategy to find out more.


How you can benefit from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The funding for innovative businesses will be released in ‘waves’, and is being managed by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation), a new public body created in 2018. You can find out more about the current wave of initiatives, search for live funding opportunities, and apply, using this link.


Open grant funding - Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

SBRI: Perth Smart Energy Network project – Closes: Wednesday 10 October 2018

Organisations can apply for a share of £150,000, including VAT, to develop a smart, flexible energy system in the estate of Perth and Kinross council.

October expression of interest: UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme – Closes: Wednesday 17 October 2018 

The UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme provides grant funding to industrial research and capital projects to encourage UK civil aerospace.

Agriculture - Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Productive and sustainable crop and ruminant agricultural systems  Closes: Wednesday 24 October 2018

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to improve productivity and sustainability across UK crop and ruminant production systems.

Digital health technology catalyst round 3: feasibility studies – Closes: Wednesday 31 October 2018 

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million to speed up development of commercial digital health solutions.


IDP 15: the road to zero emission vehicles, R&D – Closes: Thursday 6 December 2018

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £16 million to research and develop technologies that accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.

See all of the current funding opportunities


Explore your finance options

You can explore all the different finance options available to your business by using our finance finder tool.


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