Funding competition Canada UK Commercialising Quantum Technology Programme: CR&D

UK registered businesses and Canadian SMEs can apply to collaborate on joint research and development projects. These will advance the development of quantum technologies and enable their commercial use cases.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to invest a total of up to £6 million in innovation projects. These will enable the advancement of quantum technologies and their commercial use cases.

The aim of this competition is to strengthen collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships towards commercialising quantum technologies.

Your proposal must demonstrate co-development, have a high potential for commercialisation, address a technological challenge and include a plan for future exploitation.

In applying for this public funding, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition closes at 5pm UK time (which is 9am PDT and 12pm EDT) on 19 April 2023.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

The total grant for all UK partners can be up to £450,000 for each application. NRC IRAP will provide a contribution of up to CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of no more than £450,000 allocated to UK organisations
  • have a grant funding request of no more than CA $500,000 allocated to each eligible Canadian small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • start by 1 September 2023
  • end by 31 August 2025
  • last between 12 and 24 months

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 total grant funding request or 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.

Canada specific rules

Canadian funding applicants are required to register and submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). You must be successful with your EoI before being eligible to apply for this competition.

The EoI registration deadline for Canadian SMEs is 31 January 2023 and the submission deadline is 15 February 2023.

Canadian funding applicants who do not complete an EoI and have not been invited to proceed will not be eligible for funding through this competition.

Please see the NRC IRAP competition page for more information in English and French on Canadian eligibility requirements and to register when the EoI opens on 21 November 2022.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be either:

or

  • a Canadian registered small or medium sized enterprise (SME)

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

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead.


Project team

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

  • UK registered business of any size
  • UK registered academic institution
  • UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Canadian small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • Canadian research organisation

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 UK registered organisations must enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be an eligible collaboration, at least one eligible business from the UK must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application and partner with at least one eligible Canadian SME.

In the collaboration, no single partner or country can represent more than 70% of total grant.

Applicants from UK academic institutions or RTOs cannot claim more than 50% of the UK’s total grant requested.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs must be included in the total project costs.

Canadian project participants who are not eligible for funding (including researchers from the National Research Council of Canada) are welcome to collaborate as additional participants on a self‑funded basis or as subcontractors.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

For UK organisations, the cost of subcontractors is limited to no more than 20% of your organisation’s total eligible costs.

All subcontractors must be selected through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from UK, Canada and other countries but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the countries providing grant funding for the project.

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

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate for the project.

Number of applications

A UK business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in one further application.

A UK business that is not leading an application can collaborate on a maximum of two applications.

A Canadian SME may only participate in one application either as a lead or collaborator.

Aademic institutions or RTOs 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:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable) for UK organisations

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control for UK organisations. 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 £3 million from Innovate UK and up to CA$ 4.5 million from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), an equivalent of £6 million, has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

Selected CR&D projects will be eligible to receive funding from their respective national funding body.

UK Organisations

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 feasibility studies and 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.

Research participation for UK organisations

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total grant request. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 50% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a UK Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are a UK registered RTO

Canadian SMEs

NRC IRAP will provide a maximum contribution of up to CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project. Canadian SMEs may receive up to 50% funding of eligible project costs.

Canadian SME applicants must be registered as NRC IRAP clients to be considered for funding through this competition. Please see the NRC IRAP competition page for more information in English and French when the EoI competition opens on 21 November 2022.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to strengthen collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships towards commercialising quantum technologies.

Your project must demonstrate:

  • a focus on co-development, adaptation, or validation of an innovative product, process or technology that has commercial potential and outcomes
  • quantified performance objectives
  • a plan for future exploitation

We particularly encourage projects that:

  • involve consortia which span the supply chain of service or component suppliers, integrators, and end user businesses
  • progress quantum technology from lab prototypes to industry ready systems for commercial use through integration of innovative and scalable technologies

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, themes, technological maturities and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • sensing and imaging
  • component and sub system technologies supporting communications, computing and networking
  • scalable solutions such as chip scale quantum photonic and optoelectronic systems
  • software hardware codesign for reproducible quantum processor enhanced applications

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • not covered by any of the four specific themes
  • market research, road-mapping or landscape studies

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

21 November 2022
Competition opens
29 November 2022
Online briefing event: watch the recording
31 January 2023
Canadian EOI registration deadline
15 February 2023
Canadian EOI submission deadline
19 April 2023 5:00pm
Competition closes
9 June 2023
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

If you are a Canadian applicant, you must be successful in your Expression of interest (EoI) application to NRC to apply for this competition.

Before submitting this application, 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
  • 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

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).

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.

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.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition and the theme or themes it is focussed on:

  • sensing and imaging
  • component and sub system technologies supporting communications, computing and networking
  • scalable solutions such as chip scale quantum photonic and optoelectronic systems
  • software hardware codesign for reproducible quantum processor enhanced applications

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 independent assessors in both the UK and Canada.

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

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. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (not scored)

How have you incorporated equality, diversity and inclusion into your project delivery and project outcomes?

Describe details of the challenges or opportunities relating to equality, diversity and inclusion arising from your project and the methods and approaches used to address them:

  • during project delivery
  • for governance
  • for project team and advisory boards
  • for stakeholder and end-user engagement
  • for design thinking

Please note: Questions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion will not form part of the funding decision but will be used to inform the development of EDI activities for the competition cohort.

Question 3. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge, or market opportunity behind your innovation?

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 4. 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 you will improve on the similar innovation that you have identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • what performance specifications or results will be considered essential for successful commercialisation
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • 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 5. 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
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You can submit one appendix with a short summary of the main people working on your 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 6. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe:

  • the target markets for the project outcomes and any other potential markets (domestic, international or both)
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • your position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 7. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase long term productivity 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 target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • your financial and business capacity to undertake the project and commercialise the results
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified 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

Question 8. 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 and Canadian economies

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 9. 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 10. 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 11. Added value

How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? 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 other routes of investment you have already approached
  • what your project would look like without public funding
  • how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

Question 12. 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
  • the grant you are requesting
  • 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

You must complete the project financial cost breakdown template provided to the Canadian partners in your consortium by NRC IRAP.

You must upload the completed template as an appendix to this question.

All partners in the consortium must work together to complete the project financials on the first page by entering a high-level summary of the full project cost breakdown in both national currencies.

Canadian SMEs must enter zeroes for their costs into the finance section of the Innovation Funding Service.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own section in project costs.

UK organisations

UK organisations must list their project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

UK Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

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

Canadian organisations

All Canadian organisations will need to enter zeroes into the finance section of the Innovation Funding Service and select ‘no’ in answer to the question ‘are you requesting grant funding’.

The full costs for each Canadian organisation must be listed in the project financial cost breakdown template provided by NRC IRAP to eligible applicants. This must be uploaded as an appendix to question 12 ‘Costs and value for money’ of your application.

Background and further information

Since 2018 the commercialising quantum technologies challenge has been at the forefront of developing the UK’s quantum industry.

Further information can be found here:

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) (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 NRC IRAP 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 NRC IRAP 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 NRC IRAP 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

Innovate UK and NRC IRAP will hold a briefing and information session at 4:00pm UK time on 29 November 2022 and a matchmaking event on 12 December 2022.

Please visit the ‘b2match’ networking platform and create an online profile. Participants' profiles will be visible to all who are interested in this collaboration opportunity.

If you want further help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK KTN.

Support for UK registered 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 UK project manager and project finance lead
  • for UK organisations, a redacted copy of your bank details
  • a collaboration agreement
  • an exploitation plan

For UK organisations, 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

For UK organisations 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 UK assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.

Your application may score well and receive positive feedback from the assessors but be unsuccessful. You may be unsuccessful as your average score has not reached the funding threshold for this competition or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if applied to this competition.

Contact us

UK

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).

Canada

You can contact the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) International Office: IRAP.International.PARI@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.

Need help with this service? Contact us