Funding competition Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 9 – Stage 1

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

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK part of UK Research and Innovation will invest up to £3 million in small collaborative innovation projects working with our analysis for innovators (A4I) partners:

  • the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • the National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at Laboratory of the Government Chemist Group (LGC)
  • the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL)
  • 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+)
  • Henry Royce Institute (HRI)

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 stage 1 of a 2 stage competition. 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 on potential approaches to solving your problem. You will work together to propose joint projects to develop solutions and apply for the stage 2 competition to request funding.

Following assessment, successful stage 2 applications will be grant funded, to work with the relevant A4I partner organisations.

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

If successful at stage 1, your stage 2 project’s total costs must be between £15,000 and £120,000.

Who can apply

Your application

Your application must:

  • meet the A4I problem scope requirements
  • relate to work being undertaken in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • involve at least one of the A4I partner organisations
  • indicate a stage 2 project duration of between 3 and 9 months
  • indicate a stage 2 project start date of between 1 July 2023 and 1 October 2023

Confirmation of your stage 2 project duration and start date will be agreed with your A4I partner during brokerage following a successful stage 1 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.

In stage 2, some or all of your funding from this competition may be subject to Minimal Financial Assistance limits. You will be made ineligible if you exceed this limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application in stage 2.

Lead organisation

To apply to this stage your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size.

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


Number of applications

A business may make only one application to this competition.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding in stage 2 if you have:

Minimal Financial Assistance (and De minimis where applicable)

The funded stage 2 of this competition will be in two strands:

  • grant funding in strand 1 will be awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA)
  • grant funding in strand 2 will be match-funded but contributions made by A4I partners will count towards your company’s MFA limit

MFA allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your stage 2 application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

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

The applicable period is made up of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further information

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

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

Funding

We have allocated up to £3 million to fund projects across both strands in stage 2 of this competition.

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

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

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help businesses address their existing analysis and measurement problems. These are problems that can be 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 an existing process, product or service
  • are related to the measurement or analysis of some quantities or properties of your 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.

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, and sectors. We call this a portfolio approach.

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

In the Stage 2 competition we will not fund any projects that are:

In the full stage competition, we cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country.
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product
7 November 2022
Competition opens
8 November 2022
Online briefing event: Watch the recording
4 January 2023 11:00am
Competition closes
24 January 2023
Applicants notified
25 January 2023
KTN invites to partner brokerage sessions issued
9 February 2023
Partner brokerage sessions start
22 February 2023
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.

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

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 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

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 are making our application process more accessible and inclusive for 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).

Assessment and partner brokerage sessions

After the close of this 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 it requires cutting-edge scientific expertise and facilities (in scope) or whether the problem is solvable using easily available ‘off the shelf’ methods and techniques (out of 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 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.

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

1. Project details

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

Application details

Give your application a title that refers to the problem being addressed.

Application 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 problem fits the scope of the competition. If your problem 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 review your answers apart from question 1.

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

Question 1. Applicant location

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation.

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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

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 grant funding available in stage 2. Assessors are looking for realistic values here, not necessarily the biggest numbers.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 6: Video link

You must:

Your answer can be up to 50 words long.

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 1 March 2023.

After you have recorded your video, it may take up to 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.

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 eight times between 2016 and 2022. This ninth 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 small 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 A4I partner organisations (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 A4I partner organisations and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to:

  • the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants
  • scoring and feedback on the application
  • information received during the management and administration of the grant, such as Monitoring Officer reports and Independent Accountant Reports

Innovate UK and 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 A4I partner organisations 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.

A4I Support from Innovate UK KTN

Innovate UK KTN can provide assistance with your application; please contact the dedicated KTN A4I support team at a4i@ktn-uk.org.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

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

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

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

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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