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Funding competition Commercialising quantum devices: innovation R&D

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to collaborate on prototype quantum devices that meet end user needs with a clear route to market.

This competition is now closed.

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Summary

Description

The aim of this competition is to advance the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK.

Innovate UK will invest £20 million in innovation projects to develop prototype quantum technology devices that address one or more of these important industrial challenges which are explained further in the scope of this competition:

  1. Situational awareness.
  2. Infrastructure productivity.
  3. Seeing the invisible.
  4. Trusted peer to peer communication

The aim of this competition is to deliver working prototype ‘second generation’ quantum devices or systems that fulfil the technical and ergonomic requirements of end users. ‘Second generation’ means they use the generation or coherent control and manipulation of quantum states, resulting in superposition and entanglement. This allows them to do things that would be impossible with ‘non-quantum’ means. This definition also includes single photon generation or detection devices.

Your proposal must:

  • demonstrate how the device can be brought to market, with manufacture or assembly in the UK
  • fulfil an end user need through the technological advances in quantum technology

A business must lead the project. You must work in collaboration with others.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total costs should be between £3 million and £10 million. Projects should start by 1 November 2018 and last up to 29 months. Projects must be completed by the end of March 2021.

Eligibility

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • involve an SME in your consortium
  • involve an end user business that can specify how the device will be used in your consortium
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)

The lead organisation must be a business and claim funding through this competition. Projects must be collaborative, and at least one other organisation in the consortium must also claim funding.

Ideally your consortium will include component suppliers and system integrators.

A business may lead on only one application and partner in any number of applications.

An academic institution or RTO cannot lead on an application but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Any research organisation collaborating as part of a consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

Projects may include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

Funding

We have allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects which:

  • span the main challenges identified in this competition
  • involve consortia which bring together partners from across industry
  • will deliver prototypes that can meet the specifications of end users

We reserve the right to apply a portfolio approach in this competition. When deciding who will receive funding we consider how projects target a diversity of technology challenges and proposed solutions.

Projects should specify at least one milestone and list the main success criteria needed for the project to progress. One of the milestones will be at 12 months, where a formal review of funded projects will be performed. We reserve the right to stop funding for projects that do not meet performance criteria by the dates set.

Scope

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to advance the commercialisation of quantum technologies. This should be achieved through the production of prototype quantum technology devices and systems. They must provide breakthrough capabilities that answer the main challenges facing customers in the areas of sensing, imaging and secure information exchange.

Your project must address one or more of the following technology challenges:

  1. Situational awareness: situational awareness during transportation in highly hazardous conditions such as darkness, fog or dust, to enhance safety.
  2. Infrastructure productivity: increased productivity in the deployment, improvement or maintenance of the built environment and critical national infrastructure.
  3. Seeing the invisible: identification and understanding of features and states in critical areas (medical, environmental, security) which are impossible to access by conventional means.
  4. Trusted peer-to-peer communication: complete and long term trust in the secure peer-to-peer transfer of data and information, for example across smart cities and environments.

We will only fund projects that include:

  • an end user collaborator to specify how the device will be used
  • the development of prototype quantum technology devices
  • clear technical and ergonomic specifications that the device will need to achieve
  • a clear description of how the product will be brought to the marketplace
  • a consideration of design and the user experience
  • activities that demonstrate, benchmark and/or validate the performance of the device

Specific themes

We are particularly encouraging applications that:

  • involve consortia which span the supply chain of component suppliers, system integrators, and end user businesses
  • focus on maximising UK return from the quantum technology research undertaken by the UK academic base
  • bring new investment and businesses into the UK’s growing quantum technologies sector

Projects should include human-centred research and design activities. To carry out human-centred design you should:

  • investigate the needs of important stakeholders, such as potential customers, end users and supply chain partners
  • use that research to define what attributes a desirable solution should have
  • demonstrate how your chosen solution will fulfil the needs of the above

Project types

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that do not develop second generation quantum technology devices as defined in the summary.

Dates

18 April 2018
Briefing event.
18 April 2018
Competition opens
13 June 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
3 July 2018
Invite to interview.
7 August 2018
Presentation submission date.
9 August 2018
Interview panel.
17 August 2018
Applicants notified

How to apply

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite:

  • colleagues to contribute to the application
  • other organisations to participate in the project as collaborators if your application is successful
Partner organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

Interviews

If your application is successful at the written stage you will be invited to attend an interview.

Presentations should be a maximum of 30 minutes in length, with no more than 30 slides (using Microsoft PowerPoint). Please do not include any video or embedded web links. This will be followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers.

You must submit your presentation slides to Innovate UK by the date stated in our email inviting you to an interview. You will not be able to make any changes to the presentation after this date.

Up to 9 people from your project can attend the interview panel. Agree with your consortium who will attend, ideally one person from each organisation, and send us their names by the date stated in the invitation email. Make sure they will be available on all of the published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

You will be expected to answer questions based on your application form and the assessor feedback from the written stage.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details
  2. Application questions
  3. Finances

1. Project details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and length. List any partner organisations you have named as collaborators.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could be before you start your project.

Project scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by the assessors. Following assessment, you will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1: Need or challenge

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

You should describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help with this.

Question 2: Approach and innovation

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

You should describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • 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 may submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

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

You should describe or 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 sub-contractors, 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 gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 4 pages long to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

You should describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • 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
  • the current UK 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 to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

You should describe or 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 and/or end users, and the value to them, for example, why would they use or buy it?
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation (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 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

You should describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • 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 7: Project management

You should describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category, the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used for 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 may upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

You should describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how these risks will be mitigated
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how will you manage this?

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

You should describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10: 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?

You should describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer and how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation in your project to complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academics will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Supporting information

Background and further information

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at support@innovateuk.gov.uk

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