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

    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.


  • 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.

  • 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)
  • EUREKA Collaborative R&D: Photonics for Advanced Manufacturing Competition

    The EUREKA Network in Photonics is a joint initiative between Innovate UK (IUK) and the funding authorities of the Photonics 21 mirror group, which aims to promote European research and innovation in the field of photonics, including through joint transnational calls.

    This competition is investing in business-led collaborative research and development projects, focused on industrial research, to develop photonic technologies in partnership with organisations from EUREKA countries.

    IUK will fund projects in photonics for advanced, or ‘industrial’, manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing is commonly defined as the use and/or integration of innovative technologies in order to improve both products and processes.

    A UK-based business of any size can lead a project. The bid must involve at least one UK based micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). The business must and collaborate with at least one organisation from a ‘EUREKA Network in Photonics’ country (Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Poland or Switzerland).

    Applicants can also collaborate with other UK-based businesses of any size and UK-based research organisations. Note: research organisations cannot lead or work alone.

    IUK has allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. The total eligible costs per project are expected to be between €750,000 and €2 million. This includes costs from all partners, from the UK and all other countries.

    Projects must aim to develop innovative products, technology-based applications and/or technology-based services with high market potential in the participating countries and/or throughout Europe.

    The competition is now open for registrations until 15 July 2019.

    The closing date for full applications is 25 July 2019.

    For all enquiries contact:

    Innovate UK (IUK)
    Polaris House
    North Star Avenue
    SN2 1FL

    T: 0300 321 4357

    For more information please click HERE.

  • EuropaBio Most Innovative Biotech SME Award – 2019 Award Open

    EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, is inviting SMEs to apply for the tenth edition of its Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award – a unique annual initiative recognising biotech innovation and its contribution to society in Europe.

    The Most Innovative Biotech Award is made to recognise the SME that has best demonstrated innovation and forward business planning to create innovative solutions to address societal or environmental needs.

    The main award, presented in three categories, is a cash prize of €10,000, plus two years membership to EuropaBio. Three runners-up will also receive two years free membership of EuropaBio.

    Depending on their field of activity, SMEs may apply in one of three categories for 2019:

    • Healthcare.
    • Agriculture.
    • Industrial biotech.

    Two companies will be shortlisted in each category by a Jury of biotech and SME experts, with the winners celebrated during a landmark event held later in the year.

    The deadline for applications is 15 September 2019.

    Submissions are made via an online application process on the Award website. An offline version for internal preparation before online submission is also available.


  • SME Support to Evaluate Innovative Medical Technologies: Round 4 Funding Competition

    The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK), which works with people, companies and partner organisations to de-risk, enable and support innovation, and promote UK economic growth, is running this competition in partnership with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS).

    The competition will provide funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to generate an evidence base that will enable the evaluation of products that address NHS priorities. This support is intended to allow companies to collect and analyse clinical performance and cost effectiveness data within an NHS setting.

    Work should focus on understanding evidence gaps, and testing product performance to clearly explain the operational impact of the product on NHS service provision. Proposals must aim to support the impact assessment of medical devices, diagnostics and regulated digital healthcare products.

    Up to £1.5 million is available to fund projects in this competition. There are two options for applicants in this competition:

    • Study planning and preparation. Project costs up to £50,000
    • Collection of clinical performance and cost-effectiveness data study. Project costs up to £250,000

    Funding can be used to access innovation and advisory support services, including consultancy. Costs related to the collection and analysis of clinical data beyond that required for standard clinical care may also be covered.

    All projects must be led by a UK-based SME. SMEs may work alone or in collaboration with other businesses or research organisations as unfunded partners or sub-contractors. Only the SME leading the project can claim the grant.

    The deadline for applications to be received is midday on 3 July 2019.

    Applicants are encouraged to read the general guidance for applicants to help their chances of submitting a quality application.

    Those requiring more information should contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email


  • 2019 AR Emerging Architecture (AREA) Awards Launched with £10,000 for New Architects

    The AR Emerging Architecture Awards offer up-and-coming architects an industry award and recognition to help them build a successful career in the architecture industry.

    The awards support young architects and designers at a key stage in their career, promoting their best work to a worldwide audience.

    This year, the provider will recognise excellence in an overall body of work. Entrants are asked to submit a small portfolio rather than a single completed building.

    Shortlisted projects will be featured in a special edition of the Architectural Review (AR) and all finalists will be presenting their work to a judging panel in Amsterdam this November to win the £10,000 prize.

    Architects based anywhere in the world may apply. Projects must be built, and the age limit for entrants is 45.

    The entry deadline for the 2019 AREA Awards is 30 August 2019.

    Applicants should contact

    For more information please visit the website:

  • Innovate UK Smart Grants for Game-changing or Disruptive R&D

    The Innovate UK (IUK) Smart Grants provide an opportunity for businesses and research and technology organisations to apply for a grants to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy. Smart is the new name for IUK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme.

    The 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.

    IUK has allocated up to £25 million to fund a number of innovation projects in this competition. For projects with a duration of between 6 and 18 months, the total eligible project costs will be between £25,000 and £500,000 (single company or collaboration). For those with a duration between 19 and 36 months, the total eligible project costs will be between £25,000 and £2 million (collaboration only).

    IUK may consider eligible project costs over £2 million (but not exceeding £3 million).

    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.

    To lead a project, the applicant must be a UK-based business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO). The project must be carried out in the UK. If collaborating with others, the application must include an SME. To work alone, the applicant must be an SME. Proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale-up are welcomed. Collaborators can be UK based businesses, academic organisations, charities, public sector organisations or RTOs.

    The competition is open until midday on 24 July 2019.

    Applicants are encouraged to read the general guidance for applicants to help their chances of submitting a quality application.


    For all enquiries contact:

    Innovate UK (IUK)
    Polaris House
    North Star Avenue
    SN2 1UE

    Tel: 0300 321 4357
  • Detailed Designs of Smart, Local Energy Systems Competition

    The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK) has announced details of a new competition to invest in revolutionary designs for local energy systems which can deliver cleaner, cheaper energy services and create more prosperous and resilient communities across the UK.

    The Detailed Designs of Smart, Local Energy Systems Competition is part of a wider Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) programme called Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER). It aims to create a pipeline of highly innovative, ambitious and investable local energy system designs that will be ready to roll out across the UK in the 2020s.

    IUK has allocated up to £30 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Applicants can claim up to £3 million in grant funding. A project’s total eligible costs must be between £2 million and £20 million.

    IUK is looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. Proposals must be focused on a specific, named, UK location. The locality must be at least the size of a town but the ambition is to fund ground-breaking local energy systems projects up to city or region scale (or equivalent industrial, rural or other area in terms of energy capacity).

    All projects must be collaborative and applicants must carry out their project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK. To lead a project the applicant must be a UK-based business, research and technology organisation (RTO), Catapult, university/higher education institution or a local authority or similar body.

    To collaborate with the lead applicant, the organisations must be a UK-based business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or RTO. IUK expects collaborations to include at least one SME, one RTO or public sector organisation and representatives from the energy, information and communication technologies sectors.

    The deadline for applications is midday on 7 August 2019.

    Applicants are encouraged to read the general guidance for applicants to help their chances of submitting a quality application.

    Those requiring more information should contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email


  • Advancing the UK's Low Carbon Automotive Capability Competition (APC 13)

    The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is investing through the ‘Advancing the UK’s Low Carbon Automotive Capability (APC13)’ funding competition, in partnership with the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

    APC 13 is seeking proposals for collaborative R&D projects that demonstrate the development of on-vehicle technologies for on or off-road vehicles. These must either accelerate the development of low and zero tailpipe emission capable technologies, or demonstrate a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions leading to air quality improvements.

    IUK has allocated up to £25 million to match fund innovation projects in this competition. A project’s total eligible costs can be between £5 million and £40 million, for projects to last between 18 and 42 months. The total grant request at application cannot exceed 50% of the total eligible project costs.

    Projects must be led by a business working in partnership with others and must include an SME and a vehicle manufacturer or tier 1 supplier. To collaborate on a project, an applicant must be a UK based business, academic organisation, or research and technology organisation (RTO). They should carry out the project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

    The deadline for applications is midday on 10 July 2019.

    Applicants are encouraged to read the general guidance for applicants to help their chances of submitting a quality application.

    Those requiring more information should contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email

  • Writer Producer Fund for Music Industry Professionals

    The Writer Producer Fund has been established to enable songwriters and writer-producers working in popular music genres to progress their careers and writing/production credits.

    Applicants can apply a grant of up to £10,000. In addition to the funding, successful applicants will receive in-kind support from the PRS Foundation. The funding is intended to support a number of different creative and professional development activities.

    The applicant should outline areas of spend which will have an impact on their career. Activity supported is likely to include:

    • Recording costs (eg daily studio hire, tracking, production and mixing fees)
    • Costs relating to songwriter camps, co-writes, collaboration, etc
    • Musician fees
    • Creative / professional development (including training courses if applicable)
    • Training / skills courses at places such as Point Blank / SSE
    • Marketing and promotional costs related to songs / tracks reaching an audience
    • International activity that could build a profile and benefit a creative development
    • Project-related maternity or child care costs

    The Fund is open to UK-based ‘behind the scenes’ songwriters and writer-producers that have had at least three commercially exploited works.

    The next deadline is 6pm on 24 June 2019.

    For guidance and Q&As please click HERE.

  • UK and USA: innovation in global composites markets

    Under the UK Research and Innovation Funding for International Collaboration (FIC) the UK and USA are running a joint grant funding competition.

    The competition will focus on collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects, which should result in a new product, industrial process or service. Projects must be innovative, involve a technological risk and target large global markets.

    We welcome proposals from UK organisations who can collaborate with existing US partners in the field of composites manufacturing.

    US projects are being run by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and their industrial partners. These projects are already funded. Successful UK applicants are funded solely by UKRI FIC through Innovate UK.

    Project size

    UK-led projects can have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million with a maximum grant of up to £300,000 for UK applicants.


    29 May 2019                        Competition opens

    6 June 2019                          Online briefing event

    21 August 2019 12:00pm   Competition closes

    11 October 2019                    Applicants notified

    18 October 2019                   Feedback

    If you need more information, please visit website , email or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

  • Artificial intelligence-supported early fracture diagnosis: SBRI competition

    This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Opportunity North East and NHS Scotland. Successful applicants will receive 100% funding and have access to advice from NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), the University of Aberdeen, the Canon Medical Research Europe and the funders.

    The overall programme will be delivered in 2 phases. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

    NHS Scotland and Opportunity North East (ONE) are investing up to £240,000, including VAT, in innovative data analytics technology. The aim is to improve front-line clinical decision making and patient management in unscheduled care facilities.

    The solution will improve clinical workflow and safety by optimising clinical decision making and management pathways. It must use artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning algorithms to interpret data from upper limb (wrist or hand) and lower limb (ankle or foot) radiographs and linked text-based reports. Accurate determination of the presence or absence of a fracture in these areas has the potential to significantly improve patient care.

    Phase 1 research and development contracts will be focused on feasibility studies. Phase 2 contracts will be prototype development and testing.


    The competition has 2 phases. Up to £100,000, including VAT, is allocated for phase 1 and up to £140,000, including VAT, for phase 2.

    To apply:

    • register online using the green button
    • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
    • consider attending one of the briefing events listed in ‘Dates
    • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

    We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

    A selected panel of experts will assess the quality your application. Please use Microsoft Word for the application form or it will be ineligible.


    20 May 2019                            Competition opens

    27 June 2019                            Briefing event.  Sign up by 21 June

    24 July 2019 12:00pm           Registration closes

    31 July 2019 12:00pm           Competition closes

    4 October 2019                        Feedback and phase 1 contracts awarded.

  • ATI Programme

    The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme provides grant funding to industrial research and capital projects to encourage innovation in UK civil aerospace.

    Your project must have a potential application within the civil aerospace sector.

    Your proposal must prioritise areas identified within the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, including:

    • whole aircraft design and integration
    • aerostructures
    • advanced systems propulsion technologies

    Only projects which score well against the following criteria will receive funding from the ATI Programme:

    1. Strategic fit with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy.
    2. Value for money for the UK and potential impact of the exploitation of your idea once the project is over.
    3. Project deliverables such as time, cost and quality (including risks).

    This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. Successful applicants will be invited to the second stage. A decision to proceed with stage 2 will depend on the outcomes from this EoI.

    We will monitor changes between your stage 1 and stage 2 submissions. We will not accept unjustified major changes in the consortium or costs.


    3 June 2019                        Competition opens

    10 June 2019                      Online briefing event

    19 June 2019 12:00pm     Competition closes

    9 July 2019                          Applicants notified

    Extra help

    If you need more information, email visit the website or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.