Funding competition Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator

UK research organisations can apply for up to £2 million for delivery of an artificial intelligence focused manufacturing sustainability accelerator.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in an innovation project. This will be to deliver the Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator through the Made Smarter Innovation challenge.

The aim of this competition is to identify the delivery partner organisations.

Your proposal must evidence why your organisation or organisations are best placed to recruit Industrial Challenge Owners, technology sponsors and start-up or scale-up participants. You must explain how you will innovate to maximise impact with the resources and capabilities at your disposal.

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 £1.95 million and £2 million.

Who can apply

This award is provided on a No subsidy basis. This means you must publish or make all project outputs openly available on a non-selective basis. If you decide to commercially exploit project outputs, you can only do so with no selective advantage.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £1.95 million and £2 million
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 September 2024
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • 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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

If your project’s duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@iuk.ukri.org 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:

Your proposal must involve one or more Catapult Network organisations either as the lead organisation or as a grant claiming part of the project team.

The Catapult involvement is required to facilitate the cascade of funding from Innovate UK. The award from Innovate UK to grant recipients for this competition will be at 100% on a no-subsidy basis.

Your proposed cascade funding to start-ups and scale-ups will be awarded by your accelerator under minimal financial assistance (MFA), with the start-ups and scale-ups self certificating.

Project team

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

  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

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.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Non-funded partners

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

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

A research organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO) can lead on multiple applications and can also be included as a collaborator in multiple applications.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in 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:

No subsidy (and non-aid where applicable)

No subsidy

This competition provides funding that is not classed by Innovate UK as a subsidy. You should still seek independent legal advice on what this means for you, before applying.

Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance.

‘No subsidy’ status is only granted to organisations which declare that they will not use the funding:

  • in any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • in any way which would determine the funding as a subsidy as defined by the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement

It is the responsibility of the lead organisation to make sure all collaborators in the project remain compliant with these requirements.

It is important to note that it is the activity that an organisation is engaged in as part of the project and not its intentions, that define whether any support provided could be considered a subsidy.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or 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.

Funding

Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund one accelerator project in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 100% of the total eligible project costs.

Of that 100% 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 identify the delivery partner organisations for the Made Smarter Innovation challenge: sustainability in manufacturing accelerator.

Your proposal must show how you will:

  • recruit Industrial Challenge Owners, representative of the spectrum of manufacturing industry in the UK, and assist in identification of resource and energy efficiency challenges that can be realistically addressed by UK start-ups and scale-ups
  • recruit technology sponsors able to provide expertise and financial support
  • recruit technology start-ups and scale-ups, particularly those specialised in artificial intelligence (AI) through fair competition
  • execute an accelerator programme where start-ups and scale-ups are mentored technically and commercially to respond to the industrial challenges identified and increase their commercial maturity
  • deliver events at key milestone points to showcase outcomes and facilitate start-up and scale-up pitches to a curated group of investors
  • demonstrate how a minimum of 50% industry form 2 co-investment will be achieved, such as through Industry Challenge Owners, technology sponsor contributions or other means

You must:

  • evidence how you have the best possible project team to deliver your project
  • demonstrate innovation in your approach to delivery to maximise impact, considering factors such as participant engagement strategies, financial structure, use of stages, cohort groups and sub-contract support, for commercial mentoring and development
  • show how financial contributions will flow and how the project will conform with subsidy control regimes

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a project, at the discretion of the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director, that achieves the desired portfolio characteristics of the challenge. These characteristics include the diversity of delivery partners, geographic location and sector orientation. We call this a portfolio approach

Specific themes

Your project must focus on:

  • recruitment of industrial challenge owners, technology sponsors and start-up and scale-up participants to maximise impacts, for example identifying industrial challenges that are generalisable and that lead to rapidly scalable technological solutions
  • contributing to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy in the areas of resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE)
  • maximising the likelihood of forms 3 and 4 follow-on co-investment

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • projects which are classed as State aid under EC regulations or a subsidy under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
  • undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding
  • projects that do not demonstrate credible reach across the UK
  • projects that do not demonstrate engagement with manufacturers from all sectors and technology companies not currently engaged in manufacturing

10 October 2022
Competition opens
14 October 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
23 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.

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&Cs)

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

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

Accessibility and inclusion

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 support@iuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

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

1. Project details

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

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on your project and invite people from those organisations 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 the right 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.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it 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

The assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. 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. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your Made Smarter Innovation: sustainability in manufacturing accelerator?

Explain:

  • 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

Question 3. Approach and innovation

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

Explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how will you improve on the similar innovation that you have identified
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • 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

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, up to 2 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 the project team and what are their roles?

Explain:

  • 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
  • if your project is collaborative, the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit

You can submit one appendix with a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe:

  • the target markets, both in manufacturing and technology, for your Accelerator
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation
  • 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

Question 6. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to develop your organisation as a result of the project?

Explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your route to market
  • how you will exploit the outputs of the project

For the research organisation activity in the project, describe:

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

Question 7. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe and, where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:

  • external parties
  • customers
  • others in the supply chain
  • broader industry
  • the UK economy

Describe and, where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 8. Project management

How will you manage your project effectively?

Explain:

  • the main work packages of your project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • 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

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Explain:

  • 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, and data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

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

Question 10. Added value

What impact would this award have on the organisations involved?

Explain:

  • what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example, appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market (this list is not exhaustive).
  • the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what your project would look like without public funding
  • how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

Question 11. Costs and value for money

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

In terms of your project goals, explain:

  • your total project costs
  • if applicable, how each partner will finance their contributions to your project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project

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

The Made Smarter Innovation challenge supports the transformation of UK manufacturing by pioneering the development and integration of new and existing industrial digital technologies (IDTs), including artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality.

The challenge aims to deliver a resilient, flexible, more productive and environmentally sustainable UK manufacturing sector. It will also develop new technologies that can be exploited commercially across the manufacturing industry worldwide.

The £147 million investment, matched by a minimum of £147 million from industry, will support manufacturers and technology developers to:

  • prove their ideas
  • quickly develop with experts
  • scale ‘out of the box’ digital technology solutions

The Made Smarter Innovation sustainability strategy has highlighted:

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy identifies that 2/3 of industrial CO2e abatement required by 2030 needs to be delivered by resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE)
  • the sooner emissions are reduced the greater the warming mitigation
  • digital is key to delivering REEE and quickly
  • digitally enabled REEE delivers resilience and productivity
  • the Made Smarter Innovation Advisory Group identified AI as a ‘keystone’ IDT that is strategic across all industries
  • globally the UK has the most intensive investment in early-stage commercial AI
  • there is opportunity to orientate early stage commercial AI businesses towards manufacturing

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 the Innovate UK KTN.

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).

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