• Flint Innovation

Navigating complexity - the 'innovation ecosystem' a.k.a. where to find money and support

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Wondering why you never seem to feel confident that you fully understand the innovation ecosystem? Or even what the heck people like me mean when we use that phrase? Don't's not you...

The truth is that this is a complex and fragmented landscape. Various bits of Government periodically attempt to simplify it, but the complexity tends to creep back in. This means that elements of the system tend to go in cycles as people try to make it easier to navigate, and then find that the simplified version lacks nuance.

In 2015 Dame Anne Dowling wrote a report on behalf of the UK Government on the subject, recommending simplification among other things, and cleverer people than me have since been working hard on implementing her recommendations. For the purposes of this blog let me simply reproduce the now-famous diagram she produced to summarise the landscape, and I add the caveat that this is in itself a simplification as well as now being out of date...


OK, so now we know it's complicated. That doesn't help anyone to navigate it! All it's likely to do it put you off, and soldier on without accessing the support your taxes are funding.

Sources of funding and support include:

- Innovate UK

- European bodies

- British Business Bank

- Universities, and their Knowledge Transfer Offices

- The Local Enterprise Partnerships and their Growth Hubs

- Business Intermediaries

- National laboratories and Research & Technology Organisations (RTOs)

- the Catapult network

- UK Government departments

- Devolved Government departments, and their support instruments

- National Research Institutes

- The Research Councils

- The National Council for Universities and Business




The good news is that the system does include people who understand how to find the right support, at the right time. Those people include:

- The Knowledge Transfer Network (part of the Innovate UK family)

- The Enterprise Europe Network (part of the Innovate UK family)

- In England, the LEPs and their Growth Hubs

- In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, their national innovation agencies

These folks are trained and paid to help companies find the support they need, but as with all things, nobody has perfect knowledge at all times. The trick is understanding who is best placed to signpost and advise in your area (sector or geographical area), and that's where Flint Innovation can help.

If you're a University or an RTO, we can train your teams to know where to turn to ensure you offer the companies you work with the best advice as you build your relationship with them, whether you're building collaborative R&D projects, student placements, or a strategic partnership. We can also broker introductions for you to the right navigators in your area, and help your teams to build the relationships they need to deliver excellent service. Knowing what support can be added on to your offer can make all the difference to your company partner, and saves them time and frustration trying to navigate by themselves.

If you're a Government body such as a LEP or a Government department, again your staff need a quick and easy way to route enquiries and add value when asked for advice - we can provide guidance and training.

If you're a company, you're probably wishing someone would just come and tell you what is appropriate to your business, and make it easy to get your hands on it - again, Flint Innovation can help you.

If you'd like to discuss your needs, just drop us a line at

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