Application process

Our three-stage application process is designed to be robust and flexible to encourage innovation and impact.


The IOP Challenge Fund has a three-stage application process: 

Stage 1: Concept Note 

Concept notes are the first stage of the IOP Challenge Fund. 

This stage is designed to allow you to outline your inspiration, vision and developed idea in a straightforward way. 

You will be asked to provide some initial details and then a free-form piece of 1,000 words or less which focuses on your project proposal, and the innovation you seek to achieve. We ask for a range of things to be covered including but not limited to; how you will be ensuring success and what the benefits and positive impact will be on yourselves, your target audience and the IOP. We also ask for a preliminary overview of the funding you are seeking. 

If the IOP like your idea, you will be invited to progress to Stage 2, if not, you can get right to generating a new project proposal as applications are not limited.

Through the Concept Note the panel will determine how well your proposal aligns with our ambitions as an organisation and what we are looking to achieve in our strategy. Information on what the panel are looking for is in the assessment criteria.

Stage 2: Full proposal 

Stage 2 is the progression stage from Concept Note. If you have been invited to submit a full proposal, you will need to complete the following documents, which will be provided at the time of invitation: 

  • Application Form 
  • Project Proposal Template 

Progression to Stage 2 means the IOP have deemed your innovation to be of interest to the IOP and you will be asked to fill out a robust application delving into your project proposal and plans, the project financing, and any information pertinent to your project.  

Any application submitted without prior invitation, or through any method other than the application portal will not be assessed.  

Information on how your full application will be assessed and what the assessors are looking for is in the assessment criteria.  

In addition, the IOP will contact successful applicants for further details on organisation-wide criteria and any information required to conduct our internal checks and procedures. The Challenge Fund team will guide you through the process but provisional information is on the due diligence page.  

Stage 3: Interview 

Stage 3 is the final application stage. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to meet with the IOP to discuss their application in more detail. Teams will not need to re-submit previously disclosed information in interview. 

A date and time for the interview will be offered by the IOP based on internal availability however, the IOP will endeavour to work with organisations to ensure that the date and time are mutually convenient.  

Interviews will be held online or in person, depending on government advice and in agreement with those attending. 

Organisations should prepare for a maximum of two people to attend the interview. One person should be the lead applicant*.  

The structure of the interview will be confirmed closer to the time however, it is expected to involve a short presentation** providing an overview of the project and the team, followed by questions and answers. The interview will be an opportunity to clarify any questions the IOP has about your application and for us to answer any questions you may have about working with the IOP.

The interview will be conducted as a formal interview and is an opportunity for the team to sell themselves and their innovation through more than just an application form. We encourage applicants to consider ways in which they can make their interview memorable and enjoyable for all. 

 *please provide the name and short biography of the people attending no later than one week prior to the interview.  

**please provide a copy of the presentation no later than three working days prior to the interview date.