Funding competition SBRI UK National Robotics Proving Ground: Feasibility studies

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £500,000, inclusive of VAT, to develop high level design concepts for a UK National Robotics Proving Ground.

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Competition sections

Description

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to support the development of the UK’s National Robotics Proving Ground.

The aim of the competition is to develop:

  • initial operating concepts
  • system architectures
  • specifications
  • visualisations
  • supporting systems and equipment
  • challenge prize competitions
  • other novel ideas

The outputs from this short competition, will inform UKRI what type of facilities can be developed with capital infrastructure funding and the scale of the funding required. Subject to approval of future funding, further support would be available from the UKRI infrastructure fund to develop concepts into real world construction and use.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate, competitive, procurement or grant funding exercise. 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 can range in size up to total costs of £75,000, inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects must:

  • start by 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 March 2022

Applicant

To lead a project, you must:

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only, however you can involve subcontractors in your project work. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

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 £500,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this competition.

Contracts awarded will be up to £75,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project. We expect to fund between 5 and 10 projects.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

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 can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

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

Subsidy Control

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to subsidy control criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

Your proposal

Innovate UK is seeking capital infrastructure funding from the UKRI infrastructure fund, to develop National Robotics Proving Ground facilities. The facilities would aim to accelerate the development and adoption of a new generation of service robotics.

There are a wide variety of ways in which such facilities could be delivered across different locations in the UK.

This competition gives organisations an opportunity to develop and share their visions for how such a facility could be realised, and what its technical capabilities would need to be.

Your proposal must be for a project that delivers a short feasibility study working towards one or more of this competitions specific themes.

All deliverables must be completed by 31 March 2022.

Specific themes

Your project can focus one or more of the following:

  • architectural and system concept visualisations
  • testing and instrumentation equipment capabilities or specifications
  • robotics testing procedure specifications
  • concepts for rapidly reconfigurable testing environments
  • technologies to enable nationwide or worldwide remote access of robots and robotic testing infrastructure
  • technologies to enable digital simulation or emulation based robotics testing environments, digital twins or synthetic environments
  • high-level operating concepts, outlining how your organisation or consortium would develop a robotics proving ground and what its capabilities would be
  • a challenge prize competition design that uses the robotics proving ground facilities

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Research categories

Technical feasibility studies

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

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • have capital infrastructure development, for example, simple purchases of equipment or development of new or existing testing infrastructure
  • do not offer deliverables aligned to the development of a National Robotics Proving Ground in the UK
  • are focused on any facilities or capabilities outside of the UK
  • have concepts for proving ground designs or systems that are not legally, economically, physically or ethically viable
  • have total eligible costs or project terms outside of the eligibility guidance

11 October 2021
Competition opens
14 October 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
10 November 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
30 November 2021
Applicants notified
1 February 2022
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 of contracts 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. How does it tackle different aspects of the challenge and how will it provide an integrated solution?

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.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers for questions 3 to 6, questions 1 and 2 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

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

If you are working in collaboration, you must also state the name and full registered address of all organisations and subcontractors involved in the project.

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

Question 2. Themes (not scored)

You must list one or more of the main themes that your project will focus on.

Your project can include:

  • architectural and system concept visualisations
  • testing and instrumentation equipment capabilities or specifications
  • robotics testing procedure specifications
  • concepts for rapidly reconfigurable testing environments
  • technologies to enable nationwide or worldwide remote access of robots and robotic testing infrastructure
  • technologies to enable digital simulation or emulation based robotics testing environments, digital twins or synthetic environments
  • high level operating concepts, outlining how your organisation or consortium would develop a robotics proving ground and what its capabilities would be
  • a challenge prize competition design that uses the robotics proving ground facilities

This list is not exhaustive. You can select your own themes that are related to and meet the scope of this competition.

Question 3. Proposed idea or technology

How does your idea or technology address the outcomes described in the competition scope?

Describe or explain:

  • your proposed idea or technology and how it fits the competition scope
  • the current state of development or readiness of your idea

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF containing images and diagrams to support your answer. It can be no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How well does the proposal meet the challenge?’

Question 4. Project plan and methodology

Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones.

You should describe or explain:

  • what resources will be needed to deliver the project
  • what the main success criteria would be
  • the identified project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones

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.

Your milestones must be:

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

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.

This question will be assessed against these assessment criteria: ‘Is there a clear management plan. Are the milestones and evaluation procedures appropriate?’

Question 5. Team and expertise

Provide a brief description of your team.

Describe or explain:

  • the expertise of each team member or subcontractor that is relevant to your project
  • 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 6. Costs and value for money

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

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.

3. Finances

Enter your project costs, 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 KTN (each an “agency”).

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 passed on to KTN and vice versa.

Innovate UK and KTN may work with additional partners for this competition. We will request your permission to share data with our chosen partners if required.

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.

Innovate UK and KTN are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK and KTN 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 have any questions about the scope requirements of this competition and guidance on the themes you are focusing on, email: support@innovateuk.ukri.org .

Contact us

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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