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Inventor Prize

The £50,000 Inventor Prize is looking for the UK’s best inventions that help make people’s lives better. We are looking for innovative and exciting new products that haven’t been on sale before.




Prize launch
9 August 2017
Prize launch
9 August 2017
Deadline for entries
22 October 2017
Deadline for entries
22 October 2017
Announcement of finalists
Early December 2017
Announcement of finalists
Early December 2017
Induction Event for finalists
Early January 2018
Induction Event for finalists
Early January 2018
Award Event
September 2018
Award Event
September 2018

About the Inventor Prize

At its simplest, inventing is problem solving. It’s working out how to improve existing solutions or coming up with something new that could fill a gap no one else has seen. But coming up with an idea is only part of the journey.

We know that people across the UK have ideas that, with a bit of support, could be developed into fantastic products that would help improve people’s daily lives but in reality it’s not that easy.

The Inventor Prize is a pilot, run by Nesta and funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The prize aims to help smaller inventors overcome the barriers they face. We want to support individuals, teams or companies that would likely struggle to otherwise access resources and support. Unlike other programmes, the Inventor Prize will be athematic, open to products that relate to any issue as long as that product helps to make people’s lives better, thereby helping to tackle a social issue affecting the UK.



To be eligible, entrants will have to have a working model and be able to show that their invention will help to tackle an important societal issue. The Inventor Prize will support 10 finalists with great products to scale and grow, and help them in their journey to getting their product to market. Online applications can be submitted here.

The prize will seek to:

  • Support the development of selected products
  • Build the capacity of prize participants (inventors)
  • Champion and raise the profile of the lone or small scale inventor

£50,000 will be awarded to the finalist that best demonstrate meeting the judging criteria. There will be two runner up prizes of £5,000 and £15,000 for two most promising products.

See the FAQs for more information about the finalists journey.

Read through a PDF of our entry form to see what information the judges need.

Participant journey

The timeline below outlines key stages of the participant journey. For more details please refer to the Prize FAQs.

Launch - 9 August 2017

Prize opens for entries - help us spread the word!

Deadline for entries - 22 October 2017, 23:00

Entrants must submit their online application by 11 pm (23:00) GMT on 22 October 2017.

Announcement of finalists - December 2017

All eligible entries will be assessed against the judging criteria and reviewed by the judging panel. Ten applications showing greatest potential against the judging criteria will be shortlisted and announced in early December 2017. All entrants will be informed about the decision relating to their application.

Finalists' induction event - January 2018

Shortlisted finalists will be invited to the Induction Event to learn more about the development process as well as key deadlines and requirements. Each team will receive tailored support and advise relevant to their products as well as £5,000 grant each.

Product development

The finalists will be supported to develop and test their products. They will be also expected to write regular blogs and attend relevant events.

Business plan - August 2018

For a chance to win the prize, all finalists will be required to complete a business plan and present their products to judges at the final judging panel.

Awards - September 2018

The announcement of the winners will be made in September 2018. The winner will receive a £50,000 grant to help get their product to market. Two runner up grants, worth £15,000 and £5,000 each, will also be awarded.

Eligibility Criteria:
Who can enter?

The Prize will accept entries that meet following criteria (see the Eligibility Criteria page for more details):

  • People in the UK – we are looking for entries from individual inventors, small teams and small companies, based or residing in the UK.
  • New ideas for products – we are looking for physical and digital products that are new and not currently on the market or available commercially. To be eligible, entrants will have to have a working model of their product that demonstrates what the product is able to do.
  • Co-creation – It is important that the development of the idea is co-created with its intended users during the prize.
  • Skills -Entrants must ensure that they have the capacity, or can have a realistic plan for how to develop or acquire the capacity, they need to develop their product during the prize.
  • Willingness to share the idea (Intellectual Property remains with entrant) – Entrants must be the creator of the product they are entering or have permission to enter it as a representative of the small business or group who created the product.
  • Prize funding – Prize funding will only be awarded for projects that have an identifiable public benefit.
  • Politics – We cannot fund activity which is party-political in intention, use, or presentation nor to support or promote religious activity.

Judging Criteria:
What will the judges be looking for?

All entries will be judged against following criteria (see the Judging Criteria page for guidance):

  • Criterion One: Innovation  

The product should be new, adapted or repurposed in a more effective way for its intended use.

  • Criterion Two: Insight and Impact

The entrant should demonstrate a real understanding of how their product could help make the lives of people in the UK better. Explaining what the need is and how the product addresses that need.

  • Criterion Three: Quality and Safety

Entrants should demonstrate an understanding of the relevant safety standards and regulations and how their product will seek to meet them, as well as being of high quality and attractive to users.

  • Criterion Four: Market Potential & Feasibility

Entrants should consider who would buy their product and how much it will cost them to buy it. Entrants should ensure that their product is accessible and affordable to the potential users. Demonstrating an understanding of their target audience and ways to ensure successful commercialisation and the growth potential of their product.

What type of products are we looking for?

We’re looking for innovative products that never been on sale before. We’re interested in seeing products that can help solve some of the issues faced by people in the UK – hence making their lives better. Issues that people face can range from energy and the environment, jobs and the economy, to public health, education and ageing.

We’ve put together a brief on issues to help you think how your product can relate to a bigger issue.

We expect entrants to already have a working example of how their product can potentially function. It doesn’t have to be a finalised prototype as support will be offered to finalists to improve their model.

Get in touch!

See the Challenge Prize Terms and Conditions and FAQs.

For further updates, contact us at inventorprize@nesta.org.uk or follow us on Twitter and join the conversation using the hashtag #InventorPrize.

Prize Partners

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) brings together responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy, and climate change.

BEIS website




The Challenge Prize Centre (CPC) was established to increase practical evidence and understanding about challenge prizes so they can be used effectively by governments, charities and businesses to have a tangible positive impact on society.

CPC website


Prize blog