Funding competition NATEP Helping SMEs innovate in aerospace: Autumn 2022

UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million for industrial-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects.

Start new application

Or sign in to continue an existing application.

Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is working with the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

A NATEP competition is held approximately every 6 months. This is call 7 of 8 and for each call there is up to £2.5m funding available.

The aim of this competition is to provide help for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative aerospace technologies. These will enhance your capabilities and increase your ability to win new business.

Your proposal must align with the priorities stated in the UK Aerospace technology strategy, Destination Zero. Your proposal will be subject to:

  • independent assessment by Innovate UK
  • strategic review by the Aerospace Technology Institute

You will need to pass both assessments for your application to be recommended for funding. BEIS has the final funding decision.

If you are successful, Innovate UK will perform financial viability and eligibility checks. Final approvals are issued by BEIS. You will be contracted by Innovate UK. You will also be assigned a NATEP Technical Manager who will be your critical support for your project.

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 £150,000 and £300,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £150,000 and £300,000
  • end by 31 Dec 2024
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • carry out all of 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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

All project partners, including the lead partner must sign up to the ATI Framework Agreement.

Projects in this competition are currently exempt from paying the industrial contribution to the Aerospace Technology Institute.

If your organisation is a UK registered business, or a research and technology organisation (RTO) participating as a business, you must demonstrate in your application that you can provide match funding from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations, large businesses and RTOs cannot lead.

Project team

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

  • business of any size
  • 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 apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

If you are a UK registered RTO participating as a business (undertaking economic activities), you must also show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total project costs.

The costs for partners not claiming funding, must be listed in your answer to the question on costs, not the finance section.

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 UK registered SME can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications in this competition.

If a UK registered business is not leading an application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications in this competition.

All other organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

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 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 always 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 £2.5 million has been allocated from the £685 million ATI Programme budget to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For industrial research projects, 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.

No one project partner can be responsible for more than 70% of the total eligible project costs.

UK registered large businesses in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one large business, this maximum will be shared between them.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% 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 help SMEs to develop their own innovative technologies. These should enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business in the civil aerospace sector.

Your project must have a credible route to market and preferably have identified your end users.

Your project can:

  • demonstrate improvement in business productivity and competitiveness
  • show clear benefit technically
  • be able to pull through new technology or processes for use in a current or future product or manufacturing process
  • show clear benefit in creating or safeguarding jobs
  • be able to enhance capabilities within the broader aerospace industry, as well as other sectors such as advanced manufacturing

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, themes and markets . We call this a portfolio approach. BEIS’s priority is to fund businesses that are new to research and development (R&D) or are restarting R&D activity.

Specific themes

Your project must have a potential application within the civil aerospace sector. This can include dual use technologies.

Your proposal must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Destination Zero’, which is split into these areas:

Zero-Carbon Emission Aircraft Technologies

Zero-carbon emission technologies are focused on propulsion and infrastructure development to enable zero-carbon tailpipe emissions. This encompasses battery, hydrogen, and fuel cell technologies, much of which are in early stages of development.

Ultra-Efficient Aircraft Technologies

Ultra-efficient technologies are focused on improving energy efficiency and hence impact CO2 emissions, NOx and noise. Continued development of crucial high value, sustainable, high productivity manufacturing technologies will position the UK to be a first-choice location for the industry.

Cross-cutting Enabling Technologies

To enable both the zero-carbon and ultra-efficient opportunities, the UK must develop cross-cutting enabling technologies and capabilities for whole aircraft design and analysis. These capabilities should extend to the aircraft lifecycle from design, through manufacture & assembly, operation, and end of life.

Research categories

We will fund, industrial research projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • focus solely on defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual use technologies providing the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • focus on fundamental research, feasibility studies or experimental development
  • are not in scope of the UK aerospace technology strategy

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

14 November 2022
Competition opens
16 November 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
11 January 2023 11:00am
Competition closes
6 March 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.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

Accessibility and inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. Read more on how we have made our application process accessible and inclusive to everyone.

You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.

You can contact us by emailing support@iuk.ukri.org or calling 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 your application 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.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

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.

Please note we may share your proposal with other government departments with an interest in research on dual use aerospace technologies. We will ask you for your consent before doing so.

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

Your application will be assessed by both Innovate UK and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). You will need to pass both assessments for your application to be recommended for funding. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has the final funding decision.

The Innovate UK assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1 and 2. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.

The ATI will not score individual questions and their feedback will be provided separately with your BEIS notification.

The ATI evaluation is based on the answers to the ten scored questions in the application form and all the attached appendices. You can contact the ATI directly for further information.

Their evaluation will consider the following criteria:

  • market value – this includes the strength and validity of the business need and market opportunity; and the extent to which the delivery of this project provides UK competitive advantage
  • market risk – this includes the level of market risk involved in delivering the stated economic value and the level of commitment to the exploitation within the UK
  • technology value – this includes alignment with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, the credibility and viability of the approach and an assessment of the potential to deliver innovation
  • technology risk – this includes the match of technical capabilities and skills of the consortium and the strength of the management structures and procedures, including project, technical, risk and innovation management

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 and any partners or subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. ATI Framework agreement (not scored)

List all organisations, within your project team, including your own, and indicate whether they have signed up to the ATI framework agreement.

To receive funding from the ATI Programme, all partners must agree to sign up to the framework agreement within 30 days of successful notification.

Question 3. Business opportunity

What is the business opportunity that your project addresses?

Describe:

  • the business opportunity identified and how you plan to take advantage of it
  • how it is done today and the limits of current practice
  • the customer needs that have been identified and how the project will meet them
  • the challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome them

Where possible, quantify the problems and project outputs that you will be targeting.

You can submit a single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market

What is the size of the potential market for your project?

Describe:

  • details of the target market, including the size, margins, market leaders, main competitors, price competition and barriers to entry
  • the expected share of market, such as wide body, narrow body or services
  • the growth opportunity your project will create, including the projected market share it will make possible
  • the specific target product, platform and service applications underpinning the market opportunity, and when you expect them to come into service
  • the return on investment that the project could achieve, providing relevant source data references
  • the existing or future customer relationships that would benefit from this project

Question 5. Results

How will you exploit and disseminate your project results? What is your route to market?

Address and describe your:

  • expected project outputs, including products, services, processes and capabilities
  • consortium exploitation plan, including the route to market, intellectual property, changes to business models or processes, research and development (R&D) and manufacturing services
  • plans for end user or customer engagement
  • involvement of end users in the project, which is strongly recommended, you can provide documented evidence of their support and role here or in an appendix
  • consortium spill-over or dissemination plan, demonstrating how your activities will contribute to the wider aerospace industry and other sectors

You can submit a single appendix for this question to support your answer. It must be a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Benefits

What economic, social and environmental benefits do you expect your project to deliver, and when?

Describe all the benefits you expect your project to generate, both inside and outside of the consortium.

Describe the R&D, capital and training expenditure which you expect to be made as a result of this project. What do you expect the expenditure to be made on?

Describe:

  • how many jobs do you expect the project partners to either safeguard or create as a direct result of this project
  • which jobs will be safeguarded
  • explain why the project is needed to safeguard or create these jobs

Where relevant you can also describe any expected training or jobs safeguarded or created as an indirect result of this project.

Describe any other impacts that would not happen without your project. For example, effects on greenhouse gas, noise, air quality. This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Question 7. Technical approach

What technical approach will you use and how will you manage your project?

Describe the areas of work and your objectives. List all resource and management needs. Provide an overview of the technical approach.

You must:

  • describe the technical approach, including the main objectives of the work
  • explain how and why the approach is appropriate
  • tell us how you will make sure the innovative steps in the project are achievable
  • describe rival technologies and alternative R&D strategies
  • explain how you will measure your success

You must submit a work breakdown structure, including the cost of each work package, as a single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Innovation

What is innovative about your project?

Tell us:

  • how it will push boundaries beyond current leading edge science and technology
  • how it will apply existing technologies in new areas
  • what competitors are doing, and how they are trying to achieve the same outputs
  • how and why any intellectual property (IP) from the project will be free from restriction and readily exploited
  • how the research is new in an industrial and academic context

Give evidence in support of any statements or claims.

You can detail the level of innovation though patent search results, competitor analyses or literature surveys. If relevant, you should also outline your own intellectual property rights.

You can submit a table to show your technology progression in a single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Risks

What are the risks, technical, commercial and environmental, to your project’s success? What is your risk management strategy?

Explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties within the project
  • a detailed risk analysis and the mitigation steps taken or planned for each risk
  • the new level of risk with mitigation in place
  • the project management resources required to minimise operational risk

You can upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Team and facilities

Does your project team have the right skills, experience and facilities to deliver this project?

Demonstrate that the project team:

  • has the right mix of skills and experience to complete the project
  • has a track record in managing research and development projects
  • has clear objectives and roles or responsibilities

Describe the benefits of your collaboration. What advantages does being part of a consortium offer the project?

You can submit a single appendix describing the skills and experience of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 11. Costs

What are your project cost?

Give, along with supporting evidence:

  • the total project costs profile and level of grant funding you are requesting
  • justification for large project expenditure, and any significant costs such as subcontractors
  • reassurance that the budget is realistic for the scale and complexity of the project
  • a statement that funding is within the limits set by this competition
  • a list of any other sources of funding outside of the programme, and explain why they are needed
  • a realistic budget breakdown, including a funding profile and timeline
  • a description, justification and costing of individual work packages

If you have an unfunded partner or partners that are not eligible for funding, you must include their costs in your answer to this question and not in the finance section.

Question 12. Added value to the UK

How does financial support from NATEP add value to the UK?

Address both of the following:

  1. Why do you need this much funding?

Explain what other sources of funding have been considered, including private investment, and why it is not available. Your supporting evidence could include, but is not limited to business cases, internal rate of return analysis, or other financial comparisons of the scenarios with funding and without funding.

2. What will happen to the project if the application for funding is not successful?

In particular say whether:

  • some or all of the project would be likely to be carried out overseas, listing overseas sites able to carry out the work, explaining the implications for cost, quality and timescales, and outlining any likely support from overseas governments.

or

  • if the project investment and benefits will be scaled back in the UK, explaining where applicable the impact a delay or a change of scope would have on starting the project

You can submit a single appendix in a PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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.

Do not include any ineligible costs, for example costs of non grant claiming partners in this section, they must be listed in your answer to Question 11 - Costs.

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

Background and further information

NATEP is part of the ATI Programme. It supports companies in the aerospace supply chain to develop innovative technologies, working in collaboration with others and supported by higher tier companies. It equips them to win new business with existing customers and to diversify their customer base.

As well as grant funding, NATEP projects can get free access to a high calibre Technical Manager. They will help companies accelerate their technology development towards market readiness. NATEP projects are exempt from paying the industrial contribution to The Aerospace Technology Institute.

The ATI Programme to date represents a £3.2 billion joint government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace. £685 million funding is available for financial year 2022/23 to 2024/25.

This programme is co-ordinated and managed by:

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation
  • the Aerospace Technology Institute

We work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects to meet the objectives of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Destination Zero’.

Extra help

We recommend you contact the NATEP office before you submit your application as a NATEP Technology Manager may be able to give advice about your application. The NATEP office can also provide help finding a partner. Call 020 7091 4543, email info@natep.org.uk or visit their website.

Data sharing

This competition is operated by Innovate UK for and on behalf of the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the budget holder and the funding decider of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme. Innovate UK, BEIS and ATI are partners in the ATI Programme (each an "agency").

Any relevant information submitted and 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 BEIS or ATI and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants.

Innovate UK, BEIS and ATI 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, BEIS and ATI 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.

Please note, we may share your proposal with other government departments with an interest in research on dual use aerospace technologies. We will ask you for your consent before doing so.

Find a project partner

The NATEP office can provide help finding a partner. Call 020 7091 4543, email info@natep.org.uk or visit their website.

For further help to find a project partner, you can contact Innovate UK KTN.

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.

Next steps

If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.

You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.

You will need to provide:

  • the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
  • a redacted copy of your bank details
  • a collaboration agreement
  • an exploitation plan
  • a second level plan

In order to process your claims, we need to make sure that the bank details you give to us relate to a UK high street bank that is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). The account must have a BACS clearing facility and be in the same company name as your application.

If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.

Finance checks

We will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.

You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.

Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

Your Grant offer letter (GOL)

Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue your GOL.

The GOL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this before you start your project.

Your GOL will show the start date for your project, do not start your project before this date. Any costs incurred before your start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.

If your application is unsuccessful

If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the Innovate UK assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following your notification.

Please note, the ATI feedback will be provided separately with the BEIS notification.

Your application may score well and receive positive feedback from the assessors but be unsuccessful. This can be because your:

  • average score has not reached the funding threshold for this competition
  • project has not passed the ATI assessment
  • project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if applied to this competition

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).

Need help with this service? Contact us