On the 15th March James B Heydari from Innovate UK came to AUB to talk about his government funded agency, their projects, and how students can get involved.

Innovate UK supports and connects ideas for products and services from any technology and any part of the economy. They work within the UK and internationally to maximise opportunities and provide access to different markets.

James is responsible for Innovate UK’s ‘Smart’ and ‘Open’ programmes, which have funded almost 4000 ventures. Innovate UK specialise in unique and innovative ideas designed for commercialisation, and are offering a part of up to £29 million in funding for their next competition.

We caught up with James B Heydari before the lecture, here’s what he had to say:


Innovate UK support any kind of cutting edge innovation that will have an impact on the UK’s economy, benefitting the world as a result. We support, connect and fund at both national and international levels, and work with 75 countries.”


“We support, connect and fund cutting edge innovations that can demonstrate they will impact the UK’s economy. I have the privilege of working with amazing, talented, hugely creative people, and the programmes that I’m responsible for include many successful projects from the creative side – think creative-tech, film, the arts, fashion, and more.”


“Any UK based business with a great game-changing idea for a new product, service or process, that can demonstrate they have the resources, business acumen and skills to complete their project and take it to commercialisation with significant returns for the UK economy, can come to us for support and possibly funding.

The ten-question form is designed to bring out your business plan – how robust it is, how experienced you are, and so on. Once we’ve assessed each plan we have a round of competitions and mark them against each other. We fund those who score the highest – as many as possible until the budget for that round is used up.

The competition budget at the moment is for a share of up to £19 million for ‘Open’ and another £10m available for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). The programme is called ‘Open’ because anyone can apply. It’s important for people to understand that this is a great opportunity, as it’s a serious investment by the UK government at a time of great financial pressures.” 


“We’ve worked with many creative individuals and companies. Currently, we’re working with a company who have a great presence in the film industry and worked on a number of blockbusters such as The Hobbit and Star Wars with experience of and access to the global market. Their latest project is to do with ultra-high-definition immersive experiences.

The UK’s new Industrial Strategy also has a strand focusing on Audiences of the Future, which is clearly relevant to creative individuals and businesses.

There are many amazing, successful projects that we have supported in other creative fields, including fashion, textiles, design and so on – you can see some of them and their stories on our YouTube channel.”

Find out more about Innovate UK and what they can do for you.

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