The Global Incubator Programme

The Global Incubator Programme

Are you ready to scale your business globally?

You need to explore the potential of overseas markets before you can grow. Innovate UK’s Global Incubator Programme delivered in partnership with the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is an acceleration programme for innovative SMEs to spend time in world-leading incubators abroad.

Global innovation

Fulfil your international growth journey

Innovate UK's global growth accelerator

Our structured programme uses an intensive four-stage method to tackle the challenges that most companies face when entering global markets.

Companies can explore the potential of overseas markets, and access world-class mentors and tailored workspaces. 

The programme operates in four countries: the USA, Canada, Singapore and India.

Current programmes:

Who is the Global Incubator Programme for?

In order to be eligible for the Global Incubator Programme, you must:

Who is this programme suitable for?

The Global Incubator Programme is aimed at innovative companies with strong potential to scale internationally. The programme offers support for one representative from each company, and the same delegate is expected to take part in all related activities (substitutes accepted by exception). The proposed delegate should be someone who can speak on behalf of their company and who has a good technical knowledge of the company’s technologies. 

The delegate must be based in the UK, be available to attend activities (virtually) on all key programme dates, and work with an assigned EEN adviser for the full duration of the programme. 

Financial due diligence checks will be completed during the selection process. Innovate UK commits to promoting and improving equality, diversity and inclusion through the programmes it funds, manages and delivers.

We are committed to ensuring that there are no barriers to enabling diverse participation in the programme.

What to expect

•    Gain introductions to customers and partners to grow and scale your company
•    Enable feedback from your target markets
•    Receive internationalisation mentoring from trusted experts
•    Build confidence through coaching and events
•    Participate in a vibrant community
•    Establish a presence with desk space and back office services (or virtually).

The four stages of the programme

1. Prepare

The programme starts with preparation workshops delivered to the entire group in the UK. You will be allocated an adviser who will work with you to develop your strategic development plan for the programme. You will receive an overview of the innovation and sector landscape of the country's market, and training to maximise the incubation experience.

2. Participate

You will go on a market visit as a group, providing the opportunity to consider technology and market fit, preliminary customer validation and an introduction to ecosystem players. Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, the Global Incubator Programme will initially be delivered on a virtual basis. Under these circumstances, Prepare and Participate may be delivered together on a virtual basis.

3. Pursue

You will work with your adviser to refine your strategic development plan and spend 3 to 6 months in the incubator within the market country and experience a tailored programme of activities. Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, the programme will initially be delivered virtually with opportunities for a physical presence in country in accordance with public health guidelines and upon request.

4. Exploit

You will work with your adviser to exploit the programme and consider the potential funding, connections, skills and expertise required to enable opportunities that will impact your company and enable it to grow.

Selection for the programme

Application is via a brief form. Those shortlisted will be interviewed by a panel and finalists will undergo financial eligibility checks. The Global Business Innovation Programme operates on a competitive basis and selected businesses are required to actively participate in all stages.

Companies will be selected against the following criteria:

  • Programme fit: Must be a highly innovative company and fit with the Global Incubation Programme focus.
  • Ambition: Must show ambition for growth and how participating in the programme can help you to achieve this.
  • Product market fit: The product has the potential to fit with the ecosystem and market of the partner country.
  • Capability: Must have sufficient expertise and resources to exploit the opportunities from the programme.
  • Level of innovation impact: Given the competitive markets of the Global Incubation Programme, the company should offer a strong product or service which has a positive impact on climate change. 

The application process consists of a short application form and companies shortlisted will be invited for an interview before finally having financial eligibility checks. 

What we expect from participating companies

Innovate UK expects participants in the programme to:

  • Be committed: be involved in all parts of the programme and play an active role.
  • Maximise your chances: work closely with the advisers.
  • Demonstrate sufficient investment: ensure that you have the resources to participate effectively.
  • Develop and implement an impact-focused strategic development plan by working closely with your adviser.
  • Engage an appropriate representative in the programme – discuss this with your adviser.
  • Support and challenge each other: benefit from interaction with other cohort members.
What is the cost?

Innovate UK and the Enterprise Europe Network will cover the training and incubation costs offered by this programme (conditions apply). If a physical programme is possible, Innovate UK will fund a return flight and five nights of accommodation during the course of the programme.

Companies must cover staff time and any other travel and accommodation if a physical programme is possible.

Participating companies will be asked to provide a £1,000 refundable deposit on acceptance onto the programme. This will be returned on successful completion of the programme.

US Clean Growth

We are currently accepting applications for up to eight innovative SMEs in the clean growth sector to join our programme with Urban Future Lab (UFL) incbuator in New York, USA.

UFL is at the centre of clean tech innovation in New York City and offers a founder-first culture, helping innovative technology companies in the clean growth sector. This programme will be delivered virtually with opportunities for a physical presence in NYC in accordance with public health guidelines and upon request.

The 62 companies that have been in UFL's incubator have raised $670m of capital and created over 540 jobs.

Key dates:

  1. Applications close: 6 November 2020
  2. Onboarding in the UK: 8-10 December 2020
  3. Incubation programming: January-June 2021
  4. Continued support from your UK adviser: June-December 2021

What to expect:

  • Engage in >80 hours of virtual US market-based curriculum
  • Gain access and introductions to US-based customers and partners
  • Gather feedback from your target markets
  • Receive country-specific mentoring from trusted experts
  • Build confidence through coaching and events
  • Participate in a vibrant community of clean tech entrepreneurs and industry professionals
  • In accordance with public health guidelines, establish a presence with desk space and back-office services in New York.


Companies that address climate change through technology or business model innovations are eligible for this programme. Categories include, but are not limited to:

  • Smart City (resource-productive and equitable Solutions for urban development)
  • Smart Grid (utility Solutions for a digital, de-carbonised grid
  • Renewable Energy (geothermal, offshore wind, hydrogen)
  • Transportation (electric vehicles, EV charging)
  • Buildings (energy efficiency, smart controls)
  • Waste Management (circular economy, organic waste solutions)
  • Agriculture (crop analytics, urban sustainable farming)
  • Carbon Capture and Utilisation (net-zero and carbon negative products, chemicals, and materials).

Founded in 2009, the Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon School of Engineering is New York City’s longest running clean tech start-up incubator. As an integral part of the US Northeast cleantech ecosystem, UFL provides unmatched access to industry stakeholders, strategic advice, marketing and branding support, investor networks, and a community of like-minded founders. UFL’s portfolio of companies represents industry-leading solutions for renewable energy, smart buildings, transportation, and resource-efficiency.

To prepare your submission you are welcome to download the example application form. Please note that all submissions should be made using the link provided below.

To apply complete the form here.

We are committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect of our recruitment process.

Download the PDF flyer.