Funding competition SBRI Global Rail Export Innovation for Australia, Canada and India

Organisations can apply for a share of £450,000, inclusive of VAT, to support innovation on overseas rail opportunities in Australia, Canada and India.

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Competition sections

Description

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Innovate UK and jointly delivered by Innovate UK and the Department for International Trade.

The aim of the competition is to support organisations to undertake feasibility studies to demonstrate innovative railway technology solutions for overseas markets.

This is a single phase competition.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be the subject of a separate, procurement exercise and does not guarantee future work. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Funding type

Procurement

Project size

Projects must have maximum total eligible costs of £50,000, inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects must:

  • start on 1st January 2022
  • end by 31 March 2022
  • last up to 3 months
  • have maximum total eligible costs of £50,000 inclusive of VAT

Applicant

To lead a project, you can be an organisation of any size

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor. It is expected that all participants will work with an in-country unfunded partner, in Australia, Canada or India, to develop and demonstrate your products or services for the market.

Eligibility overview

Here is a diagram showing a summary of eligibility.

This is a new way of showing you eligibility. Your feedback will help us to improve it.

Funding

A total of up to £450,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this competition.

Feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £50,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 9 projects.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach across the competition themes, and technologies.

The contract is completed at the end of the feasibility study, and where possible, the successful business is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Your proposal

You must undertake a feasibility study, that demonstrates how your innovation can support an identified overseas rail sector challenge.

These studies should help to build new international business networks. The competition is delivered by Innovate UK with support from the Department for International Trade.

We are looking to increase the international engagement of innovative organisations. The competition will focus on supporting companies that have strong innovative ideas to adapt their product or service to access new markets.

Your proposed studies must show the potential of an idea in response to the developmental opportunities in Australia, Canada or India. You must also show how you will build international partnerships in those countries.

The purpose of these feasibility studies is to enable you to demonstrate the potential for your innovation to support rail sector challenges in Australia, Canada or India. Collaboration will help accelerate the commercialisation of innovative ideas in fast-growing global markets.

You must provide a letter of support with your application, from a partner in Australia, Canada or India.

You can work with an existing partner or contact your local trade office who can support you in identifying potential contacts. To find your Local Trade Office please visit: https://www.great.gov.uk/contact/office-finder/

This is a pilot competition, designed to support you in developing your technology to meet the requirements of these overseas markets.

You will be required to produce a report on the outcomes of your feasibility study on completion. You must include your deliverables in an informative illustrated report, outlining your progress and written in the style of marketing material. This can help with promoting your capabilities with additional overseas organisations. This report is in addition to the formal SBRI end of project report.

Due to current challenges for international travel, it is not anticipated that significant travel to overseas markets will be required for your project. Travel and material costs are expected to be a small proportion of the total R&D services cost. Teams should plan to deliver their project remotely as far as practical.

Specific themes

This competition focuses on delivering feasibility studies targeting the innovation opportunities in the Australian, Canadian, and Indian markets. You must explore how you can adapt your innovation to address one of the following innovation opportunities.

Innovation opportunities in Australia:

Operational optimisation

  • interoperability and standards harmonisation between different operating and signalling systems

Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

  • digital and physical tools to enable equipment maintenance
  • innovations to reduce manual operations

Energy efficiency

  • operational improvement

Innovation opportunities in Canada:

Alternative propulsion technologies

  • hydrogen fuel cell technology
  • wireless power transfer systems
  • battery train technologies

Energy efficiency

  • electric power systems
  • energy storage systems
  • operational improvement

Operational optimisation

  • railway scheduling
  • railway maintenance
  • real-time operations
  • integrated mobility

Innovation opportunities in India:

Security and crowding of stations in urban rail transit

  • station security systems for scanning of passengers and baggage
  • innovations to reduce queues and crowding at stations
  • technology based crowd control and baggage management systems
  • technology to increase engagement with retail outlets at stations

Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

  • automated technologies to reduce the requirements for manual inspections
  • technology to improve maintenance, reduce breakdowns and reduce disruption caused by maintenance issues
  • cost-effective technology to prevent failure of critical assets and to improve safety
  • innovative and cost-effective solutions to manage and maintain assets across the rail network, including track monitoring and maintenance, signalling, rolling stock and traction

Improving freight operations

  • innovation in the planning and management of freight operations to improve utilisation of existing resources
  • innovative systems and processes to help with improved planning, and real time information on carrying capacity
  • supporting of end-to-end transportation to deliver efficient booking, tracking and delivery for freight
  • technology to increase the railway’s share of freight (especially from road) and to deliver a lowering of carbon emissions
  • technology to deliver increased revenue from rail freight

Increasing train speed

  • technology to increase passenger and freight train speed whilst maintaining safety
  • innovation to reduce the capital expenditure required for infrastructure upgrades related to speed increases.
  • technology to deliver increased speeds on existing infrastructure without major investments
  • innovation related to speed focusing on traction, signalling, rolling stock, bridges and civil structures
  • cost-effective infrastructure enhancements

You must work with a partner in Australia, Canada or India to develop and demonstrate your products or services for the market. You can work with an existing partner or contact your local trade office who can support you in identifying potential contacts. To find your Local Trade Office please visit: https://www.great.gov.uk/contact/office-finder/

You must provide a letter of support from a partner in Australia, Canada or India along with your application.

Research categories

Objective: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

The supplier will work closely with their partner to address one of the specified opportunities. The objective of the partnership is to support the supplier in developing an understanding of the requirements of the Australian, Canadian or Indian markets. Organisations will determine the feasibility of delivering their capability to overseas markets in these nations.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • do not deliver against the challenges identified for each market
  • are not accompanied by a letter of support from a partner in Australia, Canada, or India
  • are not within a year of being ready for market
  • do not contain a significant level of innovation relevant to the rail industry
  • have total eligible costs or project terms outside of the eligibility guidance

13 September 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
13 September 2021
Competition opens
13 October 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
15 November 2021
Applicants notified
14 December 2021
Contracts awarded

Before you start

By submitting an application, you agree to the terms of the draft contract which is available once you start your application. The final contract will include any details you have agreed with the funding authority and will be sent to you if your application is successful. The contract is binding once the contract is returned by the applicant and signed by both parties. The terms and conditions included in the draft contract should not substantially change.

When you start an application on the Innovation Funding Service you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite colleagues from your organisation to contribute to the application.

What happens next

A selected panel of assessors will review and score your application and the winners will be selected. All applicants will be provided feedback.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

3. Finances.

1. Project details

These sections are not scored.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Who made you aware of the competition?

Select a category to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.

How long has your organisation been established for?

Select a category to state how long has your organisation been established for. You cannot choose more than one.

What is your organisation’s primary area focus?

Select a category to state your organisation’s primary focus area. You cannot choose more than one.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead applicant must then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Project summary

Please provide a short summary of your project and describe how it meets the scope of the competition.

Describe your project briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative and how it relates to the scope of the competition.

Give details of the lead organisation. Before you submit, we expect you to have discussed your application within your own organisation and any other relevant organisations.

List any organisations you have named as subcontractors.

Your answer for this section can be up to 800 words long. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits the scope of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.

Public description

Please provide a brief description of your project. This question is mandatory but we will not assess this content as part of your application.

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project. We have the right to amend the description before publication if necessary, but will consult you about any changes.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Specific theme

You must select the country and theme your project is focused on. You cannot select more than one:

Australia - Operational optimisation

Australia - Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

Australia - Energy efficiency

Canada - Alternative propulsion technologies

Canada - Energy efficiency

Canada - Operational optimisation

India - Security and crowding of stations in urban rail transit

India - Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

India - Improving freight operations

India - Increasing train speed

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 2 to 6, question 1 is not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 2. Proposed idea or technology and technical project summary (scored out of 20)

Describe how your concept and the technical project summary meet the requirements of the competition, and how they align to the requirements and challenges of the target overseas market.

You must include:

  • what the innovation is
  • how you will address the specified innovation opportunity
  • the research and development that will prove the commercial merit of the project
  • what might be achieved by deploying the innovation to address the selected challenge

You must submit a letter of support from your partner in Australia, Canada or India, as an appendix to support your answer. This must be a PDF, no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: “How does the concept and the technical project summary meet the requirements of the competition, and how do they align to the requirements and challenges of the target overseas market?”

Question 3. Project plan and methodology (scored out of 10)

Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones.

The emphasis throughout should be on practicality. We are seeking evidence that the technology works, can be made into a viable product and can achieve the proposed benefits.

You must describe or explain:

  • what resources will be needed to deliver the project
  • the technical deliverables you will offer as part of your feasibility study
  • what the main success criteria would be
  • the identified project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones
  • the main technical, commercial and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them
  • how you would handle any IP issues which might arise during the project

Indicate your required payment schedule by month.

Please ensure that if you are working with subcontractors you explain how you will maintain freedom to operate and fulfil the IP requirements detailed in the contract.

You must upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Your milestones must be:

  • clear
  • defined using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) criteria
  • associated with the appropriate deliverables and payments

This question and the milestones entered under the Finance section will be assessed against these assessment criteria: ‘Does the proposal show a clear plan for establishing technical and commercial feasibility? What are the main technical, commercial and environmental risks to project success? Will these be effectively managed? Are the milestones and success criteria procedures appropriate?’

Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question. Proposed milestones and associated payments stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.

Question 4. Technical team and expertise (scored out of 10)

Provide a brief description of your technical team. Include the expertise of each team member or subcontractor that is relevant to your application, outlining why they are critical to the project’s success and how much of their time will be spent on the project.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘Does the applicant have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the intended benefits?’

Question 5. Costs and value for money (scored out of 10)

How much will the project cost? How does it represent value for money for the team and the UK taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs, inclusive of VAT, you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the UK taxpayer

You can submit a single appendix as a spreadsheet no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a “fair market value” and not include profit.

SBRI is a procurement of R&D services. If successful you will receive a contract to deliver the proposed activity. You will submit an invoice for the work undertaken. If you are VAT registered, your total costs are expected to include VAT that you would charge as a service provider. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications are expected to list total costs inclusive of VAT.

If you are not VAT registered, then you must give your costs without VAT. You will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT after you have submitted an application.

We cannot provide VAT advice and advise you to seek independent advice for example from HMRC.

Full Economic Cost (FEC) calculations are not relevant for SBRI competitions. SBRI is a competitive process and applications will come from a variety of organisations. Whatever calculation you use to arrive at your total eligible project costs your application will be assessed against applications from other organisations. Bear this in mind when calculating your total eligible project costs. You can include overheads but remember that this is a competitive process.

The assessors are required to judge the application finances in terms of value for money. In other words, does the proposed cost for effort and deliverables reflect a fair market price? They will score your finances against this assessment criterion: ‘Are the budget and costs realistic, justified and appropriate for the aims and methods?

Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question. Proposed costs stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.

Question 6. Commercial potential (scored out of 20)

Describe how you would realise the commercial potential of your proposal and to what timescales, including a clear plan to deliver that and a route to market.

You must focus on your proposed customer’s needs but you may also mention the future commercial potential across the public or private sector and the international market.

You must outline your capability to deliver to an export market.

How far is the challenge you are addressing relevant to the innovation opportunity specified for Australia, Canada or India?

Describe the competitive advantage that your proposal has over existing or alternative technologies that meet market needs.

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘Is there a clear commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service and a clear plan to deliver that and a clear route to an export market? How significant is the competitive advantage of this technology over existing technologies that meet the market’s needs? Does the team have the potential to export?

3. Finances

Enter your project costs, milestones, organisation details and funding details. For full information on what costs you can claim, see our project costs guidance.

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

If you are VAT registered, then you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total.

If you are not VAT registered, then you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. You will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and advise you to seek independent advice from HMRC.

Background and further information

About Small Business Research Initiative competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness.

The SBRI programme:

  • supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of R&D
  • generates new business opportunities for companies
  • provides a route to market for their ideas
  • bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies

SBRI competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized businesses, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focused on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation.

Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting authority. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and the Department for International Trade.

Your submitted application and any other information you provide at the application stage can be submitted to each agency on an individual basis for its storage, processing and use. Any relevant information produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be shared with the Department for International Trade and vice versa.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Accordingly, Innovate UK will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Further help and information

If you want help to find a project partner, contact your Local Trade Office: https://www.great.gov.uk/contact/office-finder/

If you have any questions about the scope requirements of this competition, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org.

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

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