There are many competitions and awards open to businesses in Essex with some great prizes to be won, ranging from cash prizes to coaching and advice. Competitions and awards are a great way to increase your credibility, access marketing and benchmarking your business.

Please take a look at the information below to find out what competitions and awards your business can access.

  • £20 Million Hydrogen Supply Competition for Energy Business Innovators

    The government has announced a £20 million boost for businesses embracing the potential for a future UK hydrogen economy. Hydrogen fuel is a safe and low-carbon alternative for energy in buildings, industry and transport, however, it is currently extremely costly to produce and transport.

    This is the latest clean technology to receive government funding, as a result of the Clean Growth Strategy.

    The £20 million Hydrogen Supply Programme will look to significantly reduce the high cost of producing large volumes of low carbon hydrogen, so that the technology can become a competitive, clean energy supply of the future.

    The competition aims to accelerate the development of a lower cost low carbon bulk hydrogen supply (with a focus on UK production). This will be achieved through two phases:

    1. Developing several hydrogen process engineering designs, alongside a supply / production plan, which details the development steps needed for each process.
    2. A development phase which will demonstrate key components or further develop the design of the new hydrogen production process.

    Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, said:

    “Clean, green and safe, hydrogen has an exciting role to play powering the UK but needs to be cheaper and more widely available to live up to its potential. [This] £20 million funding boost, part of our modern Industrial Strategy, will help to address these challenges so that we can sustain the exciting momentum building in our low carbon hydrogen economy, creating high-value jobs up and down the country.

    “Clean Growth is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy and creates huge opportunities for the UK, securing our place as global leaders in this field.”

    If you are interested in applying to the programme, please email

    Schedule Date/duration

    Launch of £20m BEIS Hydrogen Supply programme June 2018
    Phase 1 open for applications June to October 2018
    Phase 1 projects start November 2018
    Phase 1 complete, Phase 2 open for applications May 2019
    Phase 2 projects start June 2019
    Projects complete Before 31 March 2021

    If you are interested in applying to the programme, please read the Hydrogen Supply Programme guide HERE

  • Horizon 2020: Industrial Leadership - Dedicated SME Instrument 2019 Deadlines

    Horizon 2020 is the EU’s research and innovation programme for 2014 to 2020. The aim of the SME Instrument is to attract more SMEs to Horizon 2020, to provide support to a wider range of innovation activities and to help increase the economic impact of project results by its company-focused and market-driven approach.

    The SME Instrument supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth. The SME Instrument is for innovators with ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.

    Competition for SME Instrument support is high and very selective. Only the highest quality proposals will receive funding following a thorough evaluation by multinational panels of technology, business and finance experts.

    Selected companies receive funding and are offered business coaching to scale up their innovation idea, and can also receive mentoring. They are helped in networking with other SME Instrument clients, with other companies of all sizes, and with potential co-investors and follow-up investors across Europe. SME Instrument clients will gain visibility and increase their chances of success in European and international markets.

    For-profit SMEs – including young companies and start-ups from any sector – are eligible. They must be established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country. There are no set topics, although negative impacts on climate and the environment should be avoided.

    The SME Instrument provides full-cycle business innovation support. It has three phases, includes a coaching and mentoring service, and applications will be accepted throughout 2019 for Phase 1 and Phase 2:

    • Phase 1: Feasibility study. Funding is a lump sum of €50,000 Projects should last around six months
    • Phase 2: From concept to market. Grant funding is provided (funding rate 70%) of between €500,000 and €2.5 million. Projects should normally take 12 to 24 months to complete, but could be longer in exceptional and well-justified cases.
    • Phase 3: Commercialisation. Additional EU support extended via a range of business support services offered on the EIC Community Platform, open to SMEs benefiting from the different EIC calls for proposals.

    Deadlines in 2019 for Phase 1 proposals are: 13 February 2019; 7 May 2019; 5 September 2019; and 6 November 2019.

    Deadlines in 2019 for Phase 2 proposals are: 9 January 2019; 3 April 2019; 5 June 2019; and 9 October 2019.


  • Smart Grants: February 2019

    Smart grants are the latest programme from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to de-risk innovation and enable business growth. Since 2007, organisations have benefitted from £2.5 billion of Innovate UK support, which has helped to create around 70,000 jobs and add an estimated £18 billion to the UK economy.

    Smart is the new name for Innovate UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme.

    Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in the best game-changing or disruptive ideas with a view to commercialisation.

    All proposals must be business focused, rather than pure research. Applications can come from any area of technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries), science or engineering and be applied to any part of the economy.

    Your project

    This competition provides funding for innovation research and development (R&D) from feasibility (including market research), through to technology or prototype testing and development stages up to (but not including) commercialisation.

    Your proposal must demonstrate:

    • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea leading to new products, processes or services
    • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
    • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
    • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
    • awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays and so on) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
    • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
    • good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions
    • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
    • clear, considerable potential to significantly impact the UK economy and/or productivity in a positive way

    Project durations between 6 and 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.

    Project durations between 19 months and 3 years must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. They must be collaborative projects.

    All applications must include at least one micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME)

    If you want to submit a project between 19 months and 3 years with total project costs between £2 million and £3 million as a permitted exception, you must email with full justification at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

    Projects must start by 4 November 2019 and end no later than 4 November 2022.


    18 February 2019                       Competition opens

    27 February 2019                      Online briefing event

    24 April 2019 12:00pm             Competition closes

    5 July 2019                                 Applicants notified

    To check your eligibility CLICK HERE

    To check how to apply CLICK HERE

    To start your application CLICK HERE

  • DepicT! Filmmaking Competition - 2019 Call for Entries

    DepicT! is an international short film competition which seeks to unearth up-and-coming film-making talent in the UK.

    The contest is open to applications from filmmakers with productions that last no longer than 90 seconds but still manage to show originality, imagination and the ability to engage audiences. Films can focus on a wide range of genres, including animation, documentary, drama, experimental or artist film and hybrid work.

    The competition carries the following prizes in 2019:

    • Main DepicT! Award – £1,500 cash + Lifetime membership to Shooting People.
    • DepicT! Royal Photographic Society Cinematography Award – £1,000 cash.
    • DepicT! British Special Mention Award – A special package of support which will both promote the winning 90-second film and further develop the filmmaker’s skills.
    • DepicT! Random Acts Special Mention Award – An opportunity to be featured on Channel 4’s Random Acts platform and a chance to pitch for a new Random Acts commission.

    Filmmakers in the UK may apply.

    All entries must be made online at the competition website

    The deadline for entries to this year’s competition is 5pm on Monday 1 July 2019.

  • iFeatures 2019

    iFeatures is an annual feature film programme, driving the development of low-budget, high-quality debut features from daring and distinctive storytellers across the UK.

    The programme targets emerging writers, directors and writer/directors who have yet to make a funded feature film, and at producers who are still at an emerging stage of their career. Creative England is seeking those whose work has already garnered positive industry and/or public attention in fields from short films, theatre, TV and documentaries, to online storytelling, art film and video, video gaming, commercials/advertising, graphic novels and music promos.

    The funder is looking to support high-quality, low-budget films budgeted between £500,000 and £750,000.

    In addition to receiving development funding, up to 12 selected teams will take part in an intensive, exploratory 10-month programme which includes residential Lab events, dedicated support and access to industry and networks, as well as mentoring and high-level training with established industry professionals.

    iFeatures 2019 is now open for applications until 9am on Friday 29 March 2019.

    Applications can be made on Creative England’s website

  • Innovators' Seed Corn Fund - 2019 Round Open

    The Innovators’ Seed Corn Fund is provided by the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA). GIMA established the fund to help support the drive for innovation within the UK gardening industry.

    GIMA is keen to encourage new entrants to the industry and has put together a package of support to enable them to navigate the industry. The aim is to support the launch of innovative, never before seen products for the gardening market.

    The winner will receive a grant of £6,000 to fund the following:

    • Free exhibition space at GLEE, the UK’s leading garden retail trade show to the value of £2,000.
    • Support with design, development, manufacturing or marketing costs – £3,000.
    • Business consultancy with an industry expert – £1,000.
    • Half page advert in the GIMA New Product Digest publication.
    • GIMA membership for one year.
    • ACID (Anti Copying in Design) membership for one year.
    • Free promotion around the GLEE trade show.

    The grant is open to anyone, whether they have set up in business or not. This could include designers, inventors, small businesses or start-ups.

    Products can be in varying stages of development and readiness for market.

    The next deadline for receipt of applications is 16 August 2019.

    For all enquiries contact:

    Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA)
    The White House
    High Street
    TN16 1JE

    Tel: 01959 564947
    Fax: 01959 565885
    E-mail: Contact Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA)