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Funding competition Analysis for innovators round 2: brokerage

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £4 million to address their productivity issues by working with the best scientists and research facilities.

This competition is now closed.

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Summary

Description

Up to £4 million in consultancy and innovation projects will be invested by:

  • the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • the National Measurement Laboratory at LGC (formerly known as the Laboratory of the Government Chemist)
  • the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) and
  • the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

These projects will help UK companies solve analysis and measurement problems, to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

The aim of this competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with companies that have analysis or measurement problems. Your application should describe the problem and estimate the value to your company of solving it.

Successful applicants will receive free consultancy. This will focus on how to approach solving their problem. They will also receive information about options for funding projects to work on solutions with the relevant funding partner organisations.

This is the first stage of a 2-stage competition. The second stage, which includes funding options from the 4 funding partners or Innovate UK, will be described in more detail at the roadshow and launch events.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Project costs could be up to £250,000. Consultancy sessions will start from May 2018 and follow-on projects will typically last up to 12 months.

Eligibility

Who can apply

To be eligible for consultancy and funding options for follow-on projects you must:

  • be a UK based business
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK

The 4 funding partner organisations will fund the consultancy for successful applicants. Companies will be offered different options for funding subsequent projects.

Applicants must be a single company with no partners. However, you can still apply as a single company if you are part of a large conglomerate. If you are successful, you will meet with one or more of the 4 funding partners to discuss possible solutions to the problem described. You will then be able to take the idea forward outside of this programme or with support from your choice of partner.

You can submit multiple applications addressing different, unrelated problems in your business.

Funding

The 4 analysis for innovators (A4I) funding partners have allocated up to £4 million to fund consultancy and follow up innovation projects in this competition.

Scope

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help businesses address their existing analysis and measurement problems. These are problems that are best solved by the scientists and cutting-edge facilities available in the UK.

Describe the problem you are aiming to solve.

We will only consider problems that:

  • are related to the measurement or analysis of some quantities or properties of an existing process, product or service
  • are not effectively solvable by simple ‘off the shelf’ methods or techniques

Provide an outline and quantify some of the perceived benefits of the problem being solved, such as improved productivity or competitiveness.

You should not attempt to propose how the problem should be solved, but outline any methods and attempts that you have previously tried to address the problem.

Analysis problems should not be data processing but might involve the development of new algorithms or approaches to analysing measurement data as part of a measurement system.

We are looking to address a portfolio of problem types, across a variety of technologies, markets and sectors.

Problems we will not address

We will not consider problems that:

  • are not measurement or analysis problems
  • we consider to be addressable with easily available methods, such as those that don’t require any innovative or cutting-edge science or facilities
  • are not related to a company’s existing processes, products or services

Dates

13 February 2018
London roadshow.
16 February 2018
Birmingham roadshow.
20 February 2018
Cardiff roadshow.
23 February 2018
Glasgow roadshow.
2 March 2018
Belfast roadshow.
5 March 2018
Competition opens
7 March 2018
Briefing event.
7 March 2018
Webcast of the briefing event.
4 April 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
20 April 2018 9:10am
Applicants notified
24 April 2018
Invite for consultancy sessions.

How to apply

Before you start

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

You will be responsible for:

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

You will be able to invite colleagues to contribute to the application.

All applications must include a YouTube video, up to 3 minutes long, demonstrating the problem you would like help with.

Assessment and consultancy sessions

After the competition close date, your application and video will be assessed as follows:

  • Innovate UK will check your organisation’s eligibility
  • Innovate UK will assess whether your application is a measurement or analysis problem (in scope) or not (out of scope)
  • an independent panel of experts will assess whether the problem is solvable using easily available off-the-shelf methods and techniques (out of scope) or whether it requires cutting-edge scientific expertise and facilities (in scope)
  • expert scientists from the 4 A4I funding partners will assess whether they have the skills and facilities relevant to solving your problem

All assessments will be done in confidence.

Unsuccessful applicants will receive feedback explaining why their problem was not selected.

If your application is successful at this first application stage you will be invited to attend consultancy sessions with one or more A4I funding partners. The invitations will be issued by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

KTN will arrange the initial confidential consultancy sessions between successful applicants and scientists from relevant A4I funding partners. These sessions will also include information from Innovate UK about funding opportunities for follow-on projects. It may be determined that follow-on consultancy will be appropriate.

The maximum initial free consultancy time provided by A4I funding partners will typically be a 2 hour session.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

1. Company details

2. Application questions

1. Company details

Explain what your company does and how the problem you will outline is important to the company. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether your problem fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

Give your application a title which refers to the problem being addressed.

Company summary

Describe your company briefly, and be clear about why the problem is of importance. You should include any context about the process, product or service that the problem relates to.

Public description

Describe your problem in a way that you are happy to see published. For example, you might describe it in terms of improved product or service. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If you are successful, we will publish this description. This could be before you participate in consultancy sessions.

Problem scope

Describe how your problem fits the scope of the competition. If your problem is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are evaluated by experts to determine if they can offer any approaches to solving your problem.

Your answer to questions 1 to 3 can be up to 400 words long. Your answer to question 4 can be up to 50 words long.

Question 1: problem

What is the measurement or analysis problem that you need to solve?

You should summarise:

  • what the core of the problem is as described in your video submission
  • what your major challenges are in understanding this problem
  • any important aspects of the problem that you were unable to show in the video submission

Question 2: any previous attempts to solve the problem

What methods or techniques have you tried before to solve the problem?

You should describe or explain:

  • what you did to understand or address the problem
  • what success or otherwise you had when trying to address the problem

Question 3: value to your business of solving the problem

What difference will it make to your business if you can solve this problem?

You should describe or explain:

  • what you estimate the value of the benefit to be (in £) if this problem is solved
  • how you arrived at this estimate
  • what components contribute to this benefit estimate in terms of productivity and competitiveness gains, such as savings in waste, higher quality products or services, or increased sales or market share

We want to balance helping the most businesses with making the most impact with the money available. Assessors are looking for realistic values here, not necessarily the biggest numbers.

Question 4: link and password to access your video

Please carefully paste in the URL of the YouTube video you have made to describe or show your problem. Carefully type the password required to access the video (specifying case-sensitive characters accurately).

Your video:

  • may be up to 3 minutes long
  • must be uploaded to a password protected account on YouTube before the close deadline of the competition
  • must be in one of the formats permitted by YouTube
  • need not be a high quality, costly production, but must help the expert assessors see whether they can offer a solution to your problem
  • will be considered together with the answer you give to question 1, so if there are things you want to keep confidential, use your textual answer to question 1
Make sure your video is accessible (with the specified credentials) and playable before you complete your submission.

Supporting information

Background and further information

Analysis for Innovators (A4I) is a very different type of programme from Innovate UK’s usual grant funding competitions. It is focused on helping individual companies solve tricky and perhaps long running technical problems affecting existing processes, products or services.

The programme’s aim is to help boost a company’s productivity or competitiveness. It achieves this by bringing the UK’s top scientists and facilities, often otherwise inaccessible, together with companies to address problems in innovative ways.

The A4I programme was successfully run for the first time in 2017. This second round of the programme builds upon that experience. It focuses on brokering additional successful relationships between UK companies and the UK’s National Measurement Institutes and providing greater flexibility in funding follow-on projects.

If you want help with this competition, email nigel.rix@ktn-uk.org at the Knowledge Transfer Network in the first instance.

If you need additional information, call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at support@innovateuk.gov.uk

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