Funding competition Launchpad Cluster Management: Liverpool City Region

UK registered organisations can apply for up to £150,000. This is for a project to develop and manage the emergent innovation cluster for advanced manufacturing centred on Liverpool City Region.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £150,000 in a single innovation project.

The aim of this competition is to fund a project to develop and manage the emergent innovation cluster for advanced manufacturing centred on Liverpool City Region. Your proposal must demonstrate how you will support the innovation cluster.

The funding is expected to support operational costs up to the end of March 2025, allowing the innovation cluster to become more impactful as part of Innovate UK's Launchpad programme.

Beyond April 2025 and after the grant support has ended, you are expected to continue use operational investment from your own means to continue developing the innovation cluster.

This Launchpad pilot competition supports the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Your project must 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 by 2040 or sooner.

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 grant funding request can be up to £150,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total grant funding request up to £150,000
  • start by 1 May 2023
  • have a grant funded period that ends on 31 March 2025
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK, and have its impact in the advanced manufacturing innovation cluster centred on Liverpool City Region
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If you wish to continue your project beyond 31 March 2025, you must plan to use funding from an alternative source.

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 project’s grant funding request 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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

To lead a project, you must partner with, subcontract, or demonstrate how you will work with the priority organisations within the cluster.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

If your project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding when entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

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

Number of applications

An eligible organisation can lead on only one application but can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot 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 the application 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.


Up to £150,000 has been allocated to fund a single innovation project in 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.

You could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% 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.

Organisations undertaking non-economic activity

The organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 100% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

You could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to enable a single project to develop and manage the emergent innovation cluster for advanced manufacturing, centred on Liverpool City Region.

Your project must be impartial and develop a more mature innovation cluster that benefits related organisations locally and UK wide.

The winning project will complement and support the overall Launchpad programme that includes other grant aided innovation projects. You will be expected to share non-commercially sensitive results and good practice, to encourage further innovation activities and investment to benefit your innovation cluster. You will also be expected to enable project cohort meetings with organisations in both your cluster and the other regional innovation clusters.

Your project must demonstrate how it will develop:

  • activities that meet relevant industry needs and generate innovation led economic growth
  • an innovation cluster with greater innovation intensity, innovation maturity, and levels of collaboration, commercialisation, and investment
  • a locally led narrative that provides a clear external profile
  • an integrated community that sustains beyond the grant funded period

Your project must:

  • use expertise relevant to the cluster’s location, specialisms, assets, organisations, and maturity stage
  • gain the support of relevant organisations who will contribute to developing the innovation cluster

Specific themes

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

  • knowledge transfer to encourage the development of innovation and to speed its spread throughout the cluster and supply chains
  • strengthening local institutions and aligning around priority innovation programmes
  • helping to secure private finance for businesses in the innovation cluster, including leverage for public investments
  • supply chain development, including the capacity to absorb knowledge and innovation, and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • producing case studies and promotional campaigns
  • integrating the activities of other relevant organisations
  • attracting people, businesses and investment into the innovation cluster

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • fundamental research on innovation clusters
  • requesting capital for a new facility or physical home for the innovation cluster management
  • unrelated to advanced manufacturing innovation
  • unable to demonstrate the support of relevant organisations who will contribute to developing the innovation cluster, or how they would gain this
  • claiming in excess of the £150,000 grant limit

We cannot fund projects that are:

  • 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
4 October 2022
Competition opens
7 October 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
28 October 2022 11:00am
Competition closes
5 December 2022
Invite to interview
9 January 2023
Interviews start
11 January 2023
Interviews end
20 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.

Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:

  • that all the information provided in the application is correct
  • your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
  • all sections of the application are marked as complete
  • if collaborative, that all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&C’s)

You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.

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 15 working days before the competition closing date.

You can email or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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


If your online application is assessed as eligible, we reserve the right to invite you to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place online. The date and time of your interview will be included in your invitation.

Before the interview and by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 3 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 10 minutes
  • have no more than 10 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to 4 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams


After your presentation the panel will spend 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

After your interview

The panellists will individually score your application and these will be averaged for your overall interview score. This score will supercede the one you received from initial assessment. We will notify you whether you have been successful or not by email and you will receive feedback on your interview within a week of notification.

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.

Application details

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

Project summary and scope

How does your project align with the scope of this funding opportunity?

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative and how it fits with the scope of the funding opportunity. This section will set the scene for assessors.

If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

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.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.

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 and full registered address of your organisation, any partners and any subcontractors working on your project. We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Project description

What will your Innovation cluster will focus on?


  • your main motivation for the project
  • the nature of your business and how this project will add value to it
  • your cluster’s location and characteristics, for instance, the priority organisations, specialisms, sites, assets and infrastructures
  • your cluster’s resources, challenges, needs and opportunities, such as global target markets, business led innovation activities, or aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • your vision for the development of innovation in your cluster, with reference to past work or existing initiatives that support this vision
  • the baseline data you will source and to assist in tracking progress and evidencing a successful project

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 3. Approach to your project

What approach will you take to deliver your project and what will your focus be?


  • your approach to develop and manage the innovation cluster
  • your chosen priorities to focus on throughout the project stages
  • your plans for developing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • how you will continue to improve your approach through your understanding of the innovation cluster
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify the main work packages of your project any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones and associated costs
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful project outcome
  • the operating model and management reporting lines
  • any critical work packages or main milestones (such as approvals required) and how these will help you to target the project
  • your plans to involve external parties outside your project team, which could include Innovate UK KTN, Innovate UK EDGE, the Catapult Networks, and other Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) or research organisations and how their inclusion will benefit your project

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

You must submit one appendix to support your answer. This must include a project plan or Gantt chart. It can also include diagrams and charts.

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 4. Team and resources

Who is in your project team, what are their roles and involvement in the project?


  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • (if your project is collaborative) the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • your reason for involving any subcontractors
  • any roles you will need to recruit for
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. This can be 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 5. Outcomes and impact

How will this project benefit the project team and what will be the impacts in the innovation cluster?


  • your priority organisations in the innovation cluster, referred to by their names
  • the likely impact of your project within the innovation cluster, on the innovation activities of other priority organisations, and businesses including micro, small, medium and large businesses
  • how you will measure your impact, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) or similar methods
  • how you will publicly evidence your impact throughout your project
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of your project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting other markets you identify 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 600 words long.

Question 6. Risks

What are the main risks for this project and how will you mitigate these?


  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will reduce these risks and deal with residual risk
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, decisions, or 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 7. Costs, value for money and added value

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


  • the total project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project
  • any industry, public or other support not included in the finances table, such as data or access to sites
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • 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
  • 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 the activities the organisations involved would undertake

Your answer can be up to 600 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

Separate to this competition, Innovate UK is making grant awards for innovation projects led by businesses who are active in, or growing their work activities in, the innovation cluster.

If you are successful in this cluster management competition, we will provide non-commercial information on those businesses and their projects. You will not gain a formal role in their projects.

We will also brief you on our future plans for investing in the innovation cluster. Most importantly, this is to enable your project to help to mobilise private sector investment as leverage for any public investments we should make.

Recommended references on innovation cluster management include:

You are also encouraged to review:

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.

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 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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