What you need to know

Applications for the Foundational Economy Innovation Fund are now closed, successful projects will be announced Spring 2023

We want your ideas to innovate in the foundational economy. 

We welcome applications from businesses and organisations, as well as innovators and inventors with bright ideas that can be applied in the foundational economy. 

Up to £70,000 is available in two phases for individual projects. 

Participants will also have the opportunity to take part in a development programme and join a growing community of innovators.   

How to apply 

If you wish to apply, first please read in full the Foundational Economy Innovation Fund Application Pack. This includes all the relevant information you need to apply, including details regarding the sort of projects this fund will, and will not, support. 

To apply please fill out the application form via the link below.  

Application pack Application form

The application window is now open and is due to close at 23:59 on 12 March 2023 

The expression of interest phase is now complete. Applications will be judged exclusively on the information provided on the full application form. 

How will projects be judged 

As part of your application you will be asked 3 key questions listed below, each of which will form 33 per cent of the score your application will receive. You will have 250 words to answer each of these questions.  

  • Addressing the challenge(s) – what is the specific detail of the challenge that your project would look to address, and how will your project address this problem?    
  • Innovation – please set out how your proposal will include a new or emerging idea, method, or tool when compared to existing and established ways organisations in your chosen sector(s) typically work/operate, and if possible, why you think this would work?    
  • Implementation – please set out how you plan to deliver the project set out in question 3, including where possible timescales, key activities and costings. Where these are unavailable, please say why and how this will be managed during the project.    

For full details regarding the process by which applications will be judged and projects selected for funding please see document 4 ‘scoring criteria and judging methodology’ of the application pack.  

What funding is on offer? 

Phase 1 - £10k grants 

Up to 40 projects will be supported with £10,000 to develop or trial ideas and innovations. Some projects will have ideas that need more development, while others will be ready to trial something straight away. We are interested in both at phase 1. 

All spending of Phase 1 funding must be completed within 6 months of receipt of the funding. 

Phase 2 - £60k grants 

Up to 10 projects will be awarded an additional £60,000 to develop them further and expand on their impact following completion of phase 1 and a successful pitch to a prize panel.   

Details on the process and criteria for selecting projects for Phase 2 funding will be provided at a later date, but we expect the process for Phase 2 applications to open up around 4 months following the start of Phase1.  

What other support will I receive? 

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to participate in a development programme delivered by an external partner to develop skills in innovation, pitching and business resilience.

There will also be a “community of practice” in place to amplify and share learning from and between projects, as well as peer to peer support. Participation in the Community of Practice will be mandatory, including the sharing of information (where reasonable) regarding key learning from projects with GMCA and others in the Community of Practice to maximise shared learning.    

Who can apply? 

Any individual or legally constituted organisation can submit an application, including organisations from across the public, private and voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors.

We encourage multiple individuals and / or organisations to apply in collaboration to deliver projects. However, one individual or organisation must act as the “lead applicant” and take on responsibility and liability for the project, with other involved organisations being “delivery partners”.

We are interested in applications from individuals, businesses, and organisations who work in, who work with, or who support the sectors in the foundational economy targeted by this fund.

We also welcome applications from innovators and inventors that want to work with individuals, businesses, and organisations in these parts of the foundational economy. 

Organisations outside of Greater Manchester can submit an application in collaboration with an organisation within Greater Manchester.

Where can projects be based? 

Eligible projects can be delivered in one or more of the ten local authority areas in Greater Manchester: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan.   

Applications can cover one or more of these areas or be designed to address the whole city-region. Projects do not need to cover an entire local authority area. 

Can I bring in match funding? 

Projects which can identify leverage via match funding will be welcome.

Projects contingent on additional public funds or specific co-operation with public bodies need to demonstrate that this has been secured in principle at the application phase.

What is the timeline?

January 2023  

Full applications open 

Spring 2023 

Winners notified and Phase 1 projects launch 

Autumn 2023 

Invitation to pitch for Phase 2 projects opens 

Where else can I get help for my business?

This fund is one aspect of support available to businesses during this time and is designed to offer applicants the chance to try out and test innovative solutions.

The Growth Hub "Here For Business" website covers the support available to businesses to help with energy price rises and wider costs.

The Business Growth Hub provides a comprehensive overview of support available in Greater Manchester. 


Watch our promotional video aimed at innovators

Foundational Economy Challenge home page

About the innovation fund