COVID-19 SME Support Hub

Connected Places Catapult is continuing to support UK businesses while we work remotely as a team in these unprecedented times. As such, we continue to have exciting opportunities for you to get involved with and will provide as much information on the COVID-19 SME Support Hub as possible.

This is a new world of connectedness, which holds many options to innovate how we connect with one another while staying safe and healthy. We know this must be a difficult time for small businesses and so we have tried to pull together the best resources that ourselves, UK government and other institutions are providing to help support innovators.

Got a query? Ask the SME team a question on:

COVID-19 advice and opportunities for SMEs

We’ve compiled some resources we’ve discovered around the web that we hope will help your business navigate these challenging times.

Coronavirus support finder

COVID-19 support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. Use GOV.UK’s business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.

£1.25 billion package to protect UK innovation companies

Innovate UK is offering £1.25 billion in funding for loans and grants, including a £250 million Future Fund to support innovative firms focusing on R&D. Launching in May, the available loan amounts range from £125,000 to £5 million.

Innovate UK: COVID-19 business support

An update on the support available to businesses from Innovate UK due to COVID-19 and advice for award holders.

Government Business Support Helpline phone number for England is changing

Business Support Helpline phone number for England is changing over the weekend to FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098. The service will remain the same – providing free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England. This currently includes advice for businesses on Covid-19. All of this can be accessed through the web page.

Measurement for Recovery (M4R)

An NPL-led programme to help boost competitiveness and resilience by bringing together the UK’s top scientists and facilities with companies, to address problems in innovative ways. The programme is providing up to 20 days free support to UK registered companies.

Innovation Continuity Loans with Innovate UK

Innovation Continuity Loans

Strand 1 is available to existing IUK award holders who have a challenge in completing or continuing a live project due to the impact of Covid.  This is an open competition and we will accept applications as they are submitted until the closing date.

Strand 2 is available to organisations who have a follow on project from an IUK supported project that was completed in the last 3 years.  Applications will be assessed after the closing date.

Strand 3 which has just been launched is to help SMEs to continue their innovation activity despite the impact of the pandemic, without the need to have been supported by an Innovate UK award within the last 36 months.  Applications will be assessed after the closing date.

All competitions open for applications until 11am 13th January 2021.

More Information:

Innovate UK have allocated up to £210m for innovation continuity loans to help SME’s and third sector organisations that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and facing a challenge in continuing, completing or following on an innovation project.

To support more organisations, we have further broadened our eligibility criteria and launched

Strand 3 of the innovation continuity loans

Strand 3 innovation continuity loans aim to help SMEs to continue their innovation activity despite the impact of the pandemic, without the need to have been supported by an Innovate UK award in the last 36 months. Loans from £250,000 to £1.6m are available to fund continuation of R&D  projects.

This competition is now open for applications and closes at 11am on the 13th January 2021. You can find out more at our applicant briefing webinar on Wednesday 9th December.

Existing innovation continuity loans competitions also extended.

Strand 1 of the innovation continuity loans remain available for the continuation of live projects with an Innovate UK award. This is an open competition and the deadline for applications is 13th January 2021.

Strand 2 of the innovation continuity loans has also been extended to 13th January 2021. This is for applicants with a new project that follows on from a recently completed Innovate UK project. Make sure you read the guidance before applying.

UKRI: Get funding for ideas that address COVID-19

UKRI is interested in funding research of any scale that can demonstrate it will deliver impact in the fight against COVID-19. Proposals are invited for short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

GOV.UK: Coronavirus financial support

A full range of business support measures has been made available to UK businesses and employees. This page helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.

GOV.UK: £20 million for ambitious technologies to build UK resilience following coronavirus outbreak

Businesses to help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of coronavirus and similar future situations as a result of £20 million government funding.

Call from Transport for Greater Manchester in relation to Innovate UK’s COVID-19 business support

Transport for Greater Manchester has asked us to reach out to SMEs with innovations that can have a positive impact in the Greater Manchester area and that need the support of a user for the Innovate UK call. Ideally, they would like to work with as many Greater Manchester-based businesses as possible for operational ease but they are of course open to working with as many SMEs as possible. If you have an idea that you think might be of use, please contact the TfGM innovation team on:

Can your innovation mitigate COVID-19? Here is how you can help

GOV.UK: Offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support from your business

Use this service to tell central government how your business might be able to help with the response to coronavirus.

GOV.UK: COVID-19: Rapid Sanitising Technology

Do you have an innovative or novel approach to get ambulances cleaner quicker to help combat Coronavirus?

GOV.UK: Call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators

The government is looking for businesses to support in the production and supply of ventilators and ventilator components.

Call for Solutions from OASC: Outsmarting the Corona Pandemic with Digital Innovation

Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) is now scouting operational digital solutions that mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our health care systems, the economy and society as a whole. The solutions will be showcased in the brand-new OASC Catalogue where cities & communities can discover and reuse them.

Funding call for rapid drone deployment to support COVID-19

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has been approached by a number of organisations proposing to undertake drone-based projects to directly support the Covid-19 response. We wanted to make you aware that as a result UKRI is now encouraging applications via the existing call for Covid-19 research projects.

Singapore Mobility Challenge

The focus will be on creating a better, safer, more inclusive everyday experience for commuters and on supporting the workers that keep the Singapore public transport system running. Applications are open and there is more information on the challenge available below.

July 2020 – Post Covid-19 UK Digital Solutions for NWW (New Ways of Working) project

Introducing UK digital industry, health-tech, and smart city companies that have Covid-related solutions (people movement, social distancing, traceability, getting people back to work) to local buyers/partners from large corp, big industry, systems integrators/consultants, health & corporate insurance companies.

Background & outlook

DIT Spain and Portugal are working on a new activity over the next few weeks, where FCO is supporting to build content.  FCO wants to receive 60 second elevator pitch content from UK companies that they can turn into a cohesive video, which is uploaded onto a private YouTube channel.  They will then send the link and a slide deck to pre-qualified local buyers, which they seek to follow up with virtual 121 meetings between the potential buyers (in Spain and Portugal) and the UK companies.

SME profile:

FCO wants to recruit UK companies who are late stage; in a good position to sell their solution, preferably have had at least one commercial buyer – with innovative tech solutions in the following areas:

  • Tech for Health and wellbeing at work
  • Flexible and remote working
  • Corporate efficiency
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry
  • Cybersecurity
Deadline: This is now closed
How to register:

Send an email to and please mention that you have been referred by Connected Places Catapult.   

Resources for SMEs to support you through the COVID-19 outbreak

Crunchbase: Resources to Help Your Business During COVID-19

Given these uncertain times, we understand opportunities will be hard to come by and we hope these free tools will help.

White.Space: The New ‘Normal’ – Innovating from Home

As the impact of COVID-19 is felt across the world, home working is becoming a necessity as businesses attempt to keep staff ‘signed in’ and well whilst keeping business momentum going and revenues protected.

Podcast: How SMEs are dealing with COVID-19

Find out how the outbreak is impacting businesses managing operations internationally in this podcast from Aston Business School.

A guide to facilitating workshops remotely

We’ve collated the best recommendations from around the web and some of our colleagues here at CPC have created this quick guide to help you get the most out of running remote workshops that you may be running.

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