Funding competition Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 8

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £3 million to resolve productivity and competitiveness problems, working with top scientists and research facilities.

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Competition sections

Description

Up to £3 million in collaborative innovation projects will be invested by Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation including partnerships with:

  • the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC group
  • the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) and
  • the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
  • National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)
  • National Gear Metrology Lab (GEARS)
  • Newton Gateway to Mathematics
  • Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies (ASTUTE 2020+)

The aim of this competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with businesses that have complex analysis or measurement problems.

Your proposal must describe a measurement or analysis problem where you are seeking a solution to improve your businesses productivity or competitiveness. You must provide an estimate of the value to your business of solving it.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition stage. No funding is awarded at this stage.

If you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to brokerage consultations with relevant analysis for innovators (A4I) partners. These will focus approaches to solving your problem. You will work together to propose joint projects to develop solutions.

Successful stage 2 applications will be grant funded, to work with the relevant partner organisations.

This competition is split into 2 strands. These are:

  • Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 8 Mini Projects
  • Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 8 (this strand)

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

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £15,000 and £120,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your proposed project in stage two must:

  • have total costs of between £15,000 to £120,000
  • start on or after 1st March 2023
  • end by 31 August 2023
  • last between 3 and 6 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • involve at least one of the A4I partner organisations

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Lead organisation

To apply, your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size,

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

You can only make one application in this strand of the competition.

You can only submit a problem once to either strand of the competition.

Previous applications

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

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following an application to the second stage.

EU State aid 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 Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must at all times make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.

This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

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.

Funding

Up to £3 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in stage 2 of this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For projects in stage 2, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 60% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 40% if you are a large organisation

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 State aid.

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

Your proposal

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

You must outline what you consider to be the benefits of solving your problem, such as improved productivity or competitiveness.

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

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

Analysis problems cannot be simply software related, for example pure data analysis.

As part of your application you must include a short video, up to 2 minutes long.

You must use Innovate UK Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Video platform to record your video and then provide a link in your application

If we are unable to view your video, your application will be made ineligible.

We want to fund a portfolio of problems, 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
  • ones we consider to be resolvable with easily available methods, such as those that do not require any innovative or cutting-edge science or facilities
  • solely computer software analysis problems, such as algorithms to analyse objects
  • not related to a company’s existing processes, products or services
  • dependent on export performance - for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage - for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

26 July 2022
Online briefing event: join at 10am
1 August 2022
Competition opens
31 August 2022 12:00pm
Competition closes
20 September 2022
Applicants notified
21 September 2022
KTN invite to partner brokerage sessions
10 October 2022
Partner brokerage sessions start
21 October 2022
Partner brokerage sessions end

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 2 sections:

1.Project details.

2.Application questions.

Assessment and partner brokerage sessions

After the close of this EoI stage of the competition, 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 A4I partner funding organisations will assess whether they have a potential approach to solving your problem

All assessments will be done in confidence.

If unsuccessful we will tell you the reason why your problem was not selected.

If your application is successful at this first stage, you will be invited to attend brokerage sessions with one or more A4I partner organisations. The invitations will be issued by Innovate UK KTN.

Innovate UK KTN will arrange the initial confidential partner brokerage sessions between successful applicants and scientists from relevant A4I partner organisations. Follow-on sessions will include working on any joint project proposals to submit to stage 2 of this competition.

1. Project details

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

Application team

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

Team members must each complete an Equality Diversity and Inclusion survey. The lead applicant must complete their survey to submit the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your application a title that refers to the problem being addressed.

Project summary

Describe briefly how your problem is important to your company and be clear about what impact solving the problem in a stage 2 project would have. We use this section to understand how solving the problem would have a positive effect on your business. State how your problem relates to your existing product, service or process.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your answers to questions 2 to 6 will be evaluated by expert scientists to determine if they can offer any approaches to solving your problem.

Your answers to questions 3 to 5 can be up to 400 words long. Your answer to question 6 can be up to 50 words long.

Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers for questions 1 to 5. Your answer to question 6 must only include the link to your video.

Question 1. Applicant location (not evaluated)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any subcontractors. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2: Problem scope

You must select if your problem is related to an existing product or service currently available to customers:

  • Existing product
  • Existing service
  • Not yet available

Question 3: Problem

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

You must 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 4: Previous attempts to solve the problem

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

Explain:

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

Question 5: Value to your business of solving the problem

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

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 6: Video link

You must:

Your video must describe or show the problem you are looking to solve.

It must be no longer than 2 minutes. If your video is over 2 minutes long, only the first 2 minutes will be used to assess your application.

Your video must be hosted on Innovate UK A4I video platform.

If we cannot view your video your application will be made ineligible. The video must remain available until 30 September 2022.

After you have recorded your video, it takes on average 30 minutes for your video to process and produce a URL. You must make sure that you leave enough time for this process prior to the submission deadline.

If you experience any issues whilst using either platform you must contact support@iuk.ukri.org at least 5 working days before the competition closes for advice.

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 has successfully run seven times between in 2016 and 2022. This eighth round of the programme builds upon that experience. It focuses on brokering successful relationships between UK companies and the UK’s leading scientists and experts by grant-funding follow-on projects to address the problems raised.

Innovate UK Analysis for Innovator video platform

We have partnered with Pitchtape, an online platform where you can create and submit a video with the help of templates and recording tools.

We are trialling this video platform as part of this competition and may ask for your feedback.

You will need to create an account before you are able to record your video. The platform will guide you through this process and provide step by step instructions to help you create your video.

Further help

If you experience any technical difficulties whilst using the platform, you must contact Customer Support Service on 0300 321 4357 or support@iuk.ukri.org before the submission deadline.

If you need assistance with using the video platform, please contact the KTN A4I support team at a4i@ktn-uk.org

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and the A4I partner organisations (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 the A4I partner organisations and vice versa.

Innovate UK and the A4I partner organisations 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 the A4I partner organisations 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.

Support for applicants from KTN

If you want help with the scope of this competition or ask more about A4I partner organisations, contact Innovate UK KTN A4I team.

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 Innovate UK EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Contact us

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

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