Funding competition Launchpad - Advanced Manufacturing - MFA - Liverpool City Region

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £6 million for projects that grow activities in the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region. This funding is Minimal Financial Assistance (MFA) from Innovate UK.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £6 million in innovation projects. These will be outstanding innovation projects led by businesses. The businesses must be active in, or growing their work activities in, the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region.

More information on the innovation ambitions of Liverpool City Region and about the cluster, which includes STFC Daresbury, a national science and innovation campus, is provided in the Background and further information section.

This Launchpad pilot competition supports the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper. The projects will also contribute to Liverpool City Region’s ambitions for local research and development (R&D) spending to reach 5% of gross value added (GVA) by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040 or sooner.

Your proposal must align to the scope criteria for this competition.

This competition is split into 2 strands:

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £25,000 and £100,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total project costs between £25,000 and £100,000
  • start by 1 April 2023
  • end by 31 March 2024
  • last between 3 and 12 months
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

If your total project’s costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a completed declaration as part of your application.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered small medium enterprise (SME)
  • be active in, or growing your work activities in, the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region
  • have a demonstrable ambition for business growth


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Their contribution must add to the growth of the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one MFA application.

If you apply to the CR&D strand of this competition, as well as this MFA strand, you must make sure each project is clearly distinctive and separate.

We will monitor closely for this separation if you are awarded funding in both competition strands.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Minimal Financial Assistance (and De minimis where applicable)

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis, for example, an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Further information about the UK subsidy control requirements can be found in:

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK’s International Obligations to Subsidy Control or the De minimis rules, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.


We have allocated up to £6 million to fund innovation projects selected across the two strands of this Launchpad competition and the two strands of a second Launchpad competition centred on the Tees Valley.

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

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the strands
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

You can claim 100% of your eligible project costs up to the maximum of £100,000.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under European Commission De minimis.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to support outstanding innovation projects by businesses active, or growing their work activities, in the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region.

More information on the innovation ambitions of Liverpool City Region and about the cluster, which includes STFC Daresbury, a national science and innovation campus, is provided in the Background and further information section.

This geographical requirement is set because this competition aligns to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Your project must contribute to transforming the manufacturing sector, which requires a systems approach that:

  • advances net zero and resource efficiency
  • exploits digital and technologically advanced manufacturing
  • strengthens resilience and responsiveness in supply chains

Your project must commercialise knowledge through innovation activities, and lead to increased investment into research and innovation. It must contribute to growing business activities, and generating economic impact within the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region.

We also want you to consider how your team and project will contribute to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity of the innovation cluster.

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects, across different project sizes, durations and themes. We call this a portfolio approach.

We reserve the right to prioritise projects that, are shorter in duration, significantly advance net zero and resource efficiency, or are led by businesses already based in the targeted innovation cluster.

We may also prioritise projects with greater levels of activity outside the Greater South East. This is in support of the Government's Levelling Up White Paper.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • Next generation materials: for cutting-edge products, lower emissions, reduced energy consumption, lower costs
  • Smart design: effective design methods, design for resource efficiency, design for maximum through-life value
  • Resilient supply chains: sustainable feedstocks, supply chain visibility, symbiotic industrial processes
  • High-value production: flexible production capacity, high quality products, high productivity, full adaptivity
  • Longer in use and reuse: minimal materials use, minimal waste, complete traceability, remanufacturing or value retention services

Projects can also consider key enabling themes:

  • digital technologies
  • clean energy
  • proactive regulations and policy
  • future skills
  • networked relations
  • evolving value models

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • that do not contribute to transforming the manufacturing sector,
  • where the work location does not add to the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region
  • that involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • that involve primary production in agriculture
  • with activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • not allowed under Minimal Financial Assistance
  • with total project costs of below £25,000 or above £100,000
  • that are dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • that are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product
23 September 2022
Competition opens
26 September 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
4 November 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
6 January 2023
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which people from your organisation will work with you on the project. Invite people from your organisation to help complete the application.

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

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.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. Within your answer, clarify how your project will grow your work activities in the cluster.

If your project is not in scope it will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your all your answers to questions, apart from questions 1, 2 and 3. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address, any subcontractors and the work location for the project if different to the registered addresses.

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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 2. Minimal Financial Assistance declaration (not scored)

You must download the declaration template. You must complete this, declaring any funding received under Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) or De minimis awards, (from any source of public funding) in the applicable period.

You must complete all the fields on your form before uploading.

You must write “declaration attached” in the text box.

You must upload the completed declaration as an appendix. It must be a PDF and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You must keep all documentation relating to Minimal Financial Assistance (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights) and other De minimis awards for a period of 6 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it.

Question 3. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (not scored)

How have you incorporated equality, diversity and inclusion into your project delivery and project outcomes?

Describe the details relating to methods and approaches used:

  • during project delivery
  • for governance
  • for project team and advisory boards
  • for stakeholder and end-user engagement

Please note: Questions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion will not form part of the funding decision but will be used to inform the development of EDI activities for the competition cohort.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 4. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?


  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • whether you have identified any similar innovation and its current limitations, including those close to market or in development
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 5. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?


  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how will you improve on the similar innovation that you have identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Team, resources and delivery

Who is in the project team, what are their roles and how will you deliver the project?


  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for
  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead assigned to each and the total cost of each
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You must submit one appendix to support your answer. This must include a project plan or Gantt chart. You can also include a short summary of the main people working on the project.

It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?


  • the target markets for the project outcomes, any other potential markets (domestic, international or both), including their sizes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear time frames
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 8. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?


  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be consolidating, extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 9. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?


  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Costs, value for money and added value

How much will the project cost, how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer, and what impact would an injection of public funding have on the organisations involved?


  • the total project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project
  • what form this project could go ahead in without public funding, and the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the organisations involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity you would undertake, and the related spend

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

In considering the eligibility of your proposal you are encouraged to review:

Further information about the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region will be provided in the online briefing event that you are encouraged to view.

The Liverpool City Region geographical requirement is set to align this competition to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

This topic will be explained further during the competition briefing event. For further guidance on your eligibility, you can contact Innovate UK.

Other funding support

Businesses active in the targeted innovation cluster are advised that Innovate UK is also investing additional resources. These are aimed at enabling innovative, ambitious businesses to benefit from the facilities and expertise provided by Catapults and Research & Technology Organisations (RTOs).

Suitable projects can be awarded a grant for 100% of eligible costs to a maximum of £15,000.

To access this grant, businesses do not need to apply to this competition and must instead make an enquiry through Innovate UK EDGE.

Data sharing

This competition is operated by Innovate UK.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with our own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application. Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy is accessible here.

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.

Find a project partner

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK KTN, or the Liverpool City Region Growth Platform

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

If you receive an award you may also be contacted by an innovation cluster manager funded by Innovate UK. They will be engaged to provide support to organisations active within the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region.

This will be a new offering from Innovate UK, dedicated to growing innovation activities and investment within the innovation cluster.

Contact us

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

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5:00pm, 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.

Need help with this service? Contact us