NATEP Helping SMEs innovate in aerospace: Spring 2023
UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million for industrial-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects.
- Competition opens: Monday 27 March 2023
- Competition closes: Wednesday 10 May 2023 11:00am
This competition is now closed.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is working with the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the Department for Business and Trade on this competition.
A NATEP competition is held approximately every 6 months. This is the last call of 8 calls. For each call there is up to £2.5 million funding available. The announcement for next sets of NATEP competitions will be made in due course.
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. The Department for Business and Trade has the final funding decision.
If you are successful, Innovate UK will perform financial viability and eligibility checks. Final approvals are issued by the Department for Business and Trade. 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.
Your project’s total costs must be between £150,000 and £300,000.
Who can apply
Your project must:
- have total costs between £150,000 and £300,000
- end by 31 Mar 2025
- 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.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- collaborate with other UK registered organisations
- plan to carry out a civil aerospace research or technology development project in the UK
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.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- 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 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, and you must also show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.
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 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.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
We will not award you funding if you have:
- failed to exploit a previously funded project
- an overdue independent accountant’s report
- failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)
This competition provides funding in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk).
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.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 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.
Up to £2.5 million has been allocated from the 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
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.
For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.
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.
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 Je-S registered such as an academic institution
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation
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
- 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
- enhance capabilities within the broader aerospace industry, as well as other sectors such as advanced manufacturing
We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities, research categories and, political and strategic considerations. We call this a portfolio approach. Department for Business and Trade’s priority is to fund businesses that are new to research and development (R&D) or are restarting R&D activity.
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, many 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 and assembly, operation, and end of life.
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
- 27 March 2023
- Competition opens
- 29 March 2023
- watch the recording
- 10 May 2023 11:00am
- Competition closes
- 20 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.
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
- 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:
- Project details.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Decide which organisations will work with you on your project and invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.
Give your project’s title, start date and duration.
Select the type of research you will undertake.
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.
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.
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.
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) in parallel. You will need to pass both assessments for your application to be recommended for funding. The Department for Business and Trade 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 Department for Business and Trade notification.
The ATI evaluation is based on the answers to the 10 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 all 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?
- 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?
- 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 incurred as a result of this project. What do you expect the expenditure to be incurred on?
- how many jobs 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 effects that would not happen without your project. For example, impacts 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 costs?
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:
- 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
- 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.
Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.
Background and further information
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 and Trade
- 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’.
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 email@example.com or visit their website.
This competition is operated by Innovate UK for and on behalf of the Department for Business and Trade, the budget holder and the funding decider of the ATI Programme; in conjunction with the Department for Business and Trade, Innovate UK and the ATI, collectively known as the ATI programme partners.
Any relevant information submitted and produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one partner 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 the Department for Business and Trade and the 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 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, the ATI Programme partners may want to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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.
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 assessors. The Innovate UK assessor feedback will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification. The ATI assessment feedback will be available to you with the Department for Business and Trade notification.
Sometimes your application will have scored well, and you will receive positive comments from the assessors. You may be unsuccessful as your average score was not above the funding threshold or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if this is applied for this competition.
If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email email@example.com or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
You may also find the answer to any questions you may have in our YouTube guidance videos.
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