Business grants

Research and Development grant

Research and development (R&D) grants

Get help researching and developing your big ideas.

How to finance your research

If your company is looking to research and develop a new product, process or service – or significantly improve an existing one – our R&D grants can offer a range of support for your project.


Female engineer holding Touch Bionics iLimb

What projects can R&D funding support?

We’re interested in the new stuff. Your project must be new and innovative – something that your company hasn’t done before. It could be something you’re working on independently or with a commercial partner, or you could be carrying out technical work as part of a collaboration.

We can offer funding for innovation that could improve company competitiveness, encourage further R&D for your company and benefit the Scottish economy.


Some of our previous R&D grants

£1.28m to support a state-of-the-art salmon hatchery

£97.2k to support a new virtual reality experience

£2.6m to support the world’s first artificial intelligence project management software

The details

If you’re interested in an R&D grant, here are some of the key details you’ll need to know.

Am I eligible for R&D funding?

All sectors are eligible. You may be eligible if:

  • Your business is based in or planning to locate in Scotland

  • Your project represents a significant innovation for your company

  • You can demonstrate that your idea has commercial prospects

  • You have the necessary management and technical expertise and resources, either in-house or brought-in, to make the project a success

  • The project cannot go ahead without the R&D grant or would proceed in slower timescale or significantly reduced scope, which would have detrimental impact on the commercial opportunity

  • Both the project and the business are financially viable

All companies which are awarded an R&D grant will have the opportunity to work with our specialist teams to review their approach to Fair Work. This will include:

  • Appropriate channels for effective voice and employee engagement, such as trade union recognition
  • Investment in workforce development
  • Action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace
  • No inappropriate use of zero-hours contracts
  • Payment of the Real Living Wage

Real Living Wage guidance from the Living Wage Foundation


You may not be eligible if:
  • You’re a sole trader or charity
  • Most of the R&D activity is being undertaken by third parties
  • Work has already started or commercial contracts are in place
  • The project focuses on routine or periodic changes or updates to products, processes or services and other operations, even if such changes may represent improvements
  • The end product will have a known adverse effect on the environment and/or society


What level of funding is available?

SMEs working independently on innovative projects may be awarded between 35%-50% of eligible projects costs. European Commission’s definition of an SME.

Large companies working independently on innovative projects may be awarded between 25%-40% of eligible projects costs. 

We can also support consortiums (consisting of 2-6 companies) carrying out eligible R&D. The same levels of support can be provided as above. 

If you’re an SME carrying out R&D which will result in a product for a commercial partner(s), your commercial partner(s) must contribute a minimum 20% to the project costs. We can then support up to 45% of the remaining eligible project costs.


European Commission's European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

We’ve been awarded funding from the European Commission's European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to contribute towards the support we provide to eligible SMEs.

If you’re awarded an R&D grant and meet ESIF eligibility criteria, the grant offer letter will confirm this. This won’t affect how much support you’re eligible for, it just means your grant will come from two different sources.


Project assessment

During the selection process, we’ll consider:

  • The nature of the R&D

  • The creation or safeguarding of R&D jobs that pay the Real Living Wage and the overall economic impact of the project 

  • Links into other local companies, perhaps for materials or specialist knowledge

  • Global market opportunity

  • Intellectual property

We’ll ask for information, documents and evidence that show that your project is suitable for grant funding. You’ll need to show that you meet the criteria, and you’ll need to make it clear why you need our support to make this activity happen, along with possible outcomes if support isn't available.

How to apply

To get things started, you’ll need to tell us a bit about your company and project so we can see how we can help you.

Application process


Submit an enquiry. We’ll get in touch to discuss your options further.


Submit an application form, a project proposal, a business plan and accounts details. If you’ve already provided these, speak to your relationship manager. Project proposal example.


We’ll assess your application and carry out appropriate internal or external due diligence using experienced technical and financial assessors.


If successful, you’ll receive a contract by email. Once you’ve signed and returned it, you can start your project.

Claims process


We’ll allocate a dedicated grant manager to your project who’ll be responsible for managing your claims.


On your claim date, complete the claims form and gather relevant evidence. Your grant manager will help make sure you submit the right things.


Submit your claim to the contact named in your contract.


Funding will be released within 30 days of claim approval.



Your application for R&D funding may be referred to other Scottish Enterprise departments, Government agencies and to non-Government bodies with sources of technical expertise for help in appraisal.

External technical, financial and intellectual property advisers will undertake due diligence checks of applications.

We have confidentiality agreements with each of the organisations to ensure that all material sent to them relating to grant applications is handled in strictest confidence.

The UK Intellectual Property Office has confirmed that R&D does not constitute public disclosure for patenting purposes. The information provided in confidence is not in the public domain.

We’ll ask for information, documents and evidence that show that your project is suitable for grant funding. You’ll need to show that you meet the criteria, and you’ll need to make it clear why you need our support to make this activity happen, along with possible outcomes if support isn't available.

Contact our team

If you’re interested in applying or just want some more information, get in touch to discuss your business and project.