- Do I have to be a Limited Company to apply?
No, any individual, sole trader, social enterprise, partnership or Limited Company can apply as long as they are based in the defined area and turnover does not exceed £25m.
- What area does the Merseyside Innovation Awards cover?
We cover the six boroughs of Wirral, Liverpool, St Helens, Knowsley, Sefton and Halton. See the map on About MIA.
- I live in Merseyside but my office is outside, can I apply?
- Yes, but please be aware that part of the scoring criteria is based on the expected 'Impact on Merseyside' so if your innovation is likely to be have a positive impact on Merseyside then it is more likely to attract a higher score. so try to demonstrate this impact as clearly as possible in your application.
- I am a sole trader, can I apply?
- How do I know if my idea is unique to me?
- You'll need to carry out a search in the relevant technical field/industry. For a comprehensive search, speak to your patent attorney. However, you can obtain a strong indication from a review of the publications in the relevant technical field/industry and internet searches, for example, a key-word search on your favourite internet search engine and 'espacenet', a patent-specific database.
- Does the innovation have to be a product?
- No, the innovation can be a service as long as there is something new to it!
- Can my innovation be a service?
- Yes – there has to be something new about it to be eligible.
- I run a franchise which is innovative, can I apply?
- It would be the head office, if based in Merseyside, that could apply, not individual franchisees.
- How complicated is the form to fill in?
- It is a simple online application with a few initial questions.
- What is the initial procedure for being assessed?
- Once we receive your online application, it will be put forward for initial assessment. It will then be reviewed in the next available slot at the Sponsor's monthly board meetings. You may be contacted by one of the Sponsors in order for them to learn more about your product or service so that they can present to the board on your behalf. If you are a successful monthly winner we will then arrange to meet you and to present you with your bubbly and certificate and hopefully arrange some press coverage!
- Do I have to have my innovation patented?
- No, but it is useful to know if you have a patent pending, intend to do so, or have some other effective means of protecting the intellectual property in your innovation. We may be able to help with initial advice.
- I have a brilliant innovative idea but its not ready for market yet, should I apply?
- It's always best if there's more than just an idea but if you are close to getting to market then it is worth applying. One section of the scoring criteria awards points based on commercial viability so this can influence the final outcome. If you'd like to apply, your idea will remain confidential, and we may even be able to help!
- How long does the process take?
Upon receipt of your application, it is put forward for initial assessment and then reviewed at the next available monthly sponsor meeting so this process could be as short as a week or as long as six weeks depending on when we receive the application in the cycle. After monthly review you will be notified if you are a monthly winner within the week. Those selected for the final will be notified at least three weeks prior to the event in order to have time to prepare.
- What is the criteria for assessment?
- The applications are assessed on a point scoring basis based on 'Degree of Innovation', 'Commercial Potential', and 'Impact on Merseyside' see Rules and Conditions.
- I applied last year, is it worth re-applying this year?
- If your innovation has developed significantly, changed in some way or you have increased levels of business then it may well be worth applying again. Either way it's only a short form to apply so it has to be worth a go!
- Will my innovation remain confidential?
- During assessment your idea will remain confidential to the members of the board of sponsors who take their responsibility to do so very seriously. However, if you do get through to the final you will need to present your innovation to the external judges and some members of the public in such a way as to convince them of its innovation without giving away information that you are not comfortable disclosing. If you do not think this is feasible please let us know when you first apply – you may still gain benefit from being able to discuss your innovation with the sponsors and from whatever limited publicity you approve. Some information will also be published in the press if you are a monthly winner or a finalist.
- If I win, how much do I get?
Monthly winners receive a bottle of champagne, a certificate, the right to use the 'monthly winner' logo for marketing purposes, and any local PR that we are able to generate.
Below £1,000,000 turnover:-
The winner of the final in July receives £10,000 and the runners-up each receive £2,000 worth of free consultancy from a sponsor of their choice.
Above £1,000,000 turnover:-
The winner will be awarded the Merseyside Innovation Prestige Award at the final, and will benefit from widespread media and PR attention.
- What is the 'free consultancy'?
- Think of it like a voucher from some of the sponsors to help take your idea/business forward – E.g. patent advice, fund raising, or marketing.
- If I am a monthly winner, does it mean I'm through to the final?
- No, however it does mean that you may well be short-listed. Because applications are reviewed generally on the month in which they apply, some candidates in one month may be stronger than the winner in a different month.
- I wasn't a monthly winner, do I still have a chance of getting to the final?
- Yes, all applications are reviewed again before the short-list is drawn up and you may get through to the final.
- Help! I'm through to the final, what do I have to do now?
- Pat yourself on the back! The Sponsors will contact you and explain the next stage in more detail and help you through the process of preparation. At the final, which is during the first week in July, you will need to present your innovation to the external judges and to an audience of about one hundred guests invited from the business sector across the region. The judges will spend time with you first to gain a more in-depth appreciation and you will have the opportunity to show your innovation to the guests. It's a vibrant atmosphere with good food and the odd glass of champagne so we hope you enjoy it too!
- What are the benefits of applying?
- Apart from possibly winning the £10,000 prize, you have the chance to have your innovation evaluated by the Sponsors, who are experienced in assessing new opportunities, and also to benefit from any advice they might be able to give. In addition, your application can be featured on this web-site and generate some interest with members of the public and potential investors.
- Can you help me raise money?
Sponsors may be able to help you in putting together a business plan which can be presented to potential funders.
- What other sources of funding are available?
Finding suitable commercial funding to support your business can be difficult.
The North West Fund may be an option. It is a £155 million fund targeted at businesses in the North West. A significant proportion of The Fund is allocated to businesses based in the Merseyside area. Loan and equity finance of £25,000 - £2 million is available through various funds, targeted at specific sectors and business stages. For further information please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk or contact the team on 01925 418 232 / firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, the MIA sponsor group includes Natwest Bank who provide a full range of banking and finance products to businesses, and Mitchell Charlesworth whose corporate finance team specialise in assisting SME owners to raise finance. There are also a wide range of other funding options available to businesses based in the region.
- How can I reach the local Merseyside market?
Members of the panel come from a diverse range of backgrounds including marketing & PR, finance and law. Depending on the type of innovation that you submit, they will be able to advise you on how to develop your market both locally and beyond.
- I want to sell my product and service online, can you advise me?
The sponsors may be able to help you with an initial assessment, and to determine the best way forward.
- I think my idea is truly innovative, when should I apply for a patent and how much will it cost?
Before disclosing your idea, you should ensure that you have spoken to your patent attorney to determine the best form of protection. If a patent application is appropriate, you should file this before making a non-confidential disclosure. Typically, the cost for preparing and filing a UK patent application will be in the region of £3000 – £5000 + VAT.
- Can I enter my social enterprise for the award?
As long as your enterprise falls within the area, then we'd love to hear from you!