Clients often ask us if it is possible to win TSB Smart Grants year after year. For example, if a project wins a Proof of Market grant, can the company then realistically apply for a Proof of Concept or a Development of Prototype?
Consecutive funding is crucial, as PoM support is never enough to bring the technology to market, and even the PoC’s larger cash injection is rarely sufficient, particularly if it’s a very innovative project.
Obviously, we don’t have access to all of TSB’s internal statistics, so I can’t give you a definitive answer on this. What I can do is tell you about one of our clients who has successfully applied for two grants in as many years for the same project.
What kind of project can win the first round?
TSB Smart Grants are reserved for companies working on what the Government terms “step-change” innovation. This means technological developments that introduce new capabilities, or produce a step-change impact on the existing dynamics of an industry.
The criteria for receiving these grants are understandably very strict. The governmental pocket is by no means bottomless, and the mandarins want significant bang for their bucks, currently in rather short supply. The TSB is itself under pressure to show that for every pound it invests, a multiple of the investment is added to the country’s GDP a few years down the line.
So, all the usual advice(http://granttree.co.uk/smart_grants) applies. Make sure you read all the articles in this section of our site before you even start thinking about follow-on funding.
To achieve a second round of funding, the project needs to continue to qualify, but adapt to the criteria of the new round of funding for which it is applying.
So, if the initial grant was a PoM, and the second application is for a PoC, the second application needs to describe a project that is actually developing some complex technologies. If it’s a DoP, it needs to be taking some previously developed complex technologies, and doing further, complex development, to bring them to market.
The best way to see what sort of project can qualify for two grants is to look at a concrete example, from one of our clients.
Release Mobile first applied to TSB for a grant to help them develop a Proof of Concept for a technology that would enable companies to package their internal data into an accessible, controllable and chargeable API. The Proof of Concept grant was won and invested, and the result was an exciting technology called datownia. Release Mobile describes it as follows:
datownia creates an API easily, quickly and inexpensively, with no need for technical set-up. It then simplifies the on-going management of that API. This makes it possible for non-technical people to create and operate API technology, sharing data content from a cloud based storage system with absolute simplicity, total control and maximum security. datownia is integrated with Box or Dropbox via the their platform APIs. datownia extends Box and Dropbox functionality meaning that companies who use Box and Dropbox today for sharing files can use datownia to share the data in the same files via an API.
The initial application for a PoC was submitted before the project to develop datownia was started, and funded the development of the core technology. When the time came to apply again for the DoP, the picture, and the pitch, had changed appropriately. The core technology was developed, but there were still many features to build before it was market-ready.
This, then, was the focus on the second application: taking the technology developed during the PoC, and further developing it to meet the market’s needs.
It is possible to get more than one Smart Grant for the same product, but you do need to develop your project to meet the requirements of the phase you’re applying for.