Helping innovative high-growth SMEs through COVID-19 and beyond

The Government has announced a new package of support to help innovative, high-growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic; stabilise as we recover; and grow to support economic recovery post-crisis. Enterprise Europe Network with Innovate UK is delivering this support in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. EEN is funded and delivered in Scotland by Scottish Enterprise.

Support will be available to around 6,000 innovative SMEs over the next two years, including both existing and new clients.

Support is available for:

  • SMEs receiving Innovate UK support, both funding and non-funding interventions (including Global Business Innovation Programmes, Women in Innovation, Young Innovators)
  • EEN clients and high-growth SMEs in receipt of European Innovation Council funding
  • Innovative, high growth-potential SMEs referred from Growth Hubs
  • Existing EEN growth clients.

What support can a business get?

Support is based around an innovative SME having access to an EEN Innovation and Growth Adviser and receiving up to five days of adviser time over a 6-12 month period, with an additional 3 days for those businesses demonstrating the highest growth potential.

This is not a one size fits all programme but rather a package of support that will be tailored to the needs of each individual company. Shaped to address the needs of innovative companies, the support will help the fulfilment of growth potential post-crisis and support economic recovery.

There are over 200 Innovation and Growth Advisers and 12 Scale Up Directors in 20 partner organisations based regionally but connected nationally and internationally. A full list of partner organisations is available after the privacy notice here.

Support is built around three phases:

Survive: addressing short-term challenges faced by a business, whether that be survival or rapid growth
Stabilise: ensuring medium-term stability of a businesses to build resilience and plan for growth
Grow: longer-term support getting a business back on track to realise their longer-term growth ambitions.

The adviser will support the business on areas such as:

  • managing cashflow
  • funding and finance
  • staff retention
  • removing costs from the business
  • building resilience
  • research and development (R&D) and innovation capacity
  • reviewing businesses models
  • planning for growth
  • developing supply chains
  • building a customer base
  • accessing new markets.

The adviser will act as a sounding board and critical friend, helping the business to develop plans, implement actions and make connections that will accelerate their growth as soon as possible.

For the highest growth potential businesses, additional support can be provided covering areas such as strategic reviews, structure for growth, funding/finance for growth, entering new/global markets, and getting ready to scale.

Access this support

SMEs that benefit the most from our support will have a clear vision which includes innovation and internationalisation, and the ambition to grow 20%+ year-on-year. A previous or current plan for delivering a sustainable business model that can support growth will also be essential. EEN support is not designed for businesses at the ideas stage with no specific plans to transform the idea into a business.

Please contact us directly to discuss how we can help your business.

Other support is available

Innovate UK is also offering support in the form of continuity grants and loans. Read this guidance on for further information and eligibility.

Visit Innovate UK on to see what other support is available.