Innovate UK – Our work to INVEST

Sponsor: Innovate UK

By providing the right finance and connections at the right time we aim to support the commercialisation of innovation. The best innovations are progressed through open grants and loans, and we aim to build international partnerships to increase UK global presence.

Bundlee is the UK’s first baby clothing rental service

Protective barrier: Korn Wall’s Kwickscreen hospital screens are portable, lower cost and reduce the spread of infection

Smart Grants

This responsive grant programme provides a mechanism to support the best new ideas to help meet emerging challenges, allowing businesses to grow and adapt to changing times.
The programme supports highly innovative and disruptive research and development projects with strong commercial potential from any part of the UK.

By investing in game-changing products, processes or services, our aim is to give disruptive and innovative projects the security they need to reach the market.

On average, 26% of the Smart grant funding is awarded to manufacturing, materials and mobility projects. The funded projects range from the creation of novel materials such as plastic alternatives, new durable material coatings for the aerospace sector, vehicle armour for increased security
of passengers, and new wearable technologies focused on energy generation. l


At the end of 2019, Bundlee, the UK’s
first baby clothing rental service, received an Innovate UK Smart grant to develop
the business around circular economy principles. That funding enabled investment in a custom inventory management process and software,
helping the business create a longer lifespan for rented clothes.

Founder, Eva Kekeh, says; “Parents need a sustainable, affordable and convenient way to dress their babies as they grow. But the sustainable options aren’t very convenient – buying second hand and reselling outgrown clothes can take so much time from already busy parents.”

Since the beginning of 2020, Bundlee’s subscription numbers have grown by more than 350%, with the community saving over 20 tonnes of CO2 and 4 million litres of water. Kekeh has taken on two new members of staff to deal with the surge in customers and in the future she would like to extend the service into an older age range.

Innovation Loans

Innovation Loans are for highly innovative late-stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. Building on a successful pilot programme the Government has launched a new series of loans worth £150m to support innovative SMEs and to level up the UK.

The loans will support innovations with the strongest potential for economic growth and to tackle social challenges. Topics will cover fields such as net zero, health and wellbeing, and next-generation digital technologies, as well as the ‘7 Technology Families’ of the Innovation Strategy including advanced materials and manufacturing.

CASE STUDY: KwickScreen

Patented screens are delivering improved NHS infection control. Korn Wall Ltd has designed a revolutionary product that provides a physical protective barrier to prevent the spread of infection via droplet transmission in healthcare environments.

KwickScreen is designed to create a safe space for every patient and ultimately replace traditional and outmoded hospital curtains. Its proprietary, bistable composite technology has allowed the company to make retractable and portable screens at scale. Not only do they reduce the spread of infection, but they are more sustainable and cost effective than alternatives. KwickScreens are now used in most UK hospitals and the company forecasts demand to continue to increase in the UK and beyond with the enduring impact of Covid on attitudes and behaviours.

Alan Murrell, CEO of Korn Wall Ltd, says: “The loan meant we were able to invest in new machinery, semi automate manual processes and dedicate resource to innovations that further support the NHS.

Our staff numbers have increased from 15 to 67, and this includes the recruitment of six bright and talented graduates. “We would never have been able to scale and grow in this way without the support from Innovate UK.”

“KwickScreen is designed to create a safe space for every patient and ultimately replace traditional and outmoded hospital curtains”


Innovate UK’s Manufacturing and Materials team facilitates far-reaching global collaboration, helping the UK to remain at the global forefront of research and investment.

Several mechanisms are employed to support UK organisations to build strategic partnerships and shape future collaboration opportunities. This includes support to:

  • build knowledge about other countries through insight
  • build relationships with overseas businesses, research organisations, investors and governments
  • collaborate with international partners and innovate together
  • explore innovation opportunities and future market potential.


British and German specialists teamed up to develop a new standard in laser systems, HYLASE. It is ideal for printing, etching and cutting complex surfaces such as glass, plastic and thin films used in semiconductors, optics and sectors such as insulation protection, decoration and other coatings.

Funded by Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF (Germany) and Innovate UK through the Eurostars programme, HYLASE represents a new standard in ultra-compact, high-energy laser systems capable of producing complex materials essential to modern manufacturing.

HYLASE technology has excellent processing speed, accuracy and beam quality, boosting output and minimising heat build-up. The lasers also proved very reliable and are easy to integrate and maintain within new and existing industrial and scientific applications.

HYLASE laser amplifiers were installed in the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser. This high tech research facility produces intense x-ray flashes (a billion times higher than commercial sources) that can uncover the atomic detail of cells and chemical reactions.

“KwickScreen is designed to create a safe space for every patient and ultimately replace traditional and outmoded hospital curtains”

HYLASE amplifiers were installed in the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL). Here an ultrashort X-ray pulse and an optical laser pulse interact simultaneously with a neon atom