Funding competition UK-Malaysia urban innovation challenge 2017

UK businesses can apply for a share of £3 million to work with Malaysian partners on innovative urban solutions in Malaysia.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


Innovate UK is investing up to £3 million for projects that use cutting-edge solutions to improve cities in Malaysia.

The aim of this competition is to encourage innovative partnerships between the UK and Malaysia. Innovate UK and PlaTCOM Ventures, Malaysia are funding this competition, administered by the Newton Fund.

Projects should address one or more of the following urban challenges:

  • urban mobility
  • urban waste
  • urban water management

We expect projects to range in size from total project costs of £300,000 to £500,000 in the UK. This would mean a total grant size not exceeding £400,000 per project. Projects should last 2 years.

Funding type


Project size

Total project costs of £300,000 to £500,000 in the UK.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To be eligible for an award you must:

  • have a UK-based company act as lead applicant on the UK side of the project
  • have at least one UK-based company working together with one Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) as project lead in Malaysia
  • show that Malaysia is the target market for the project
  • show how your project fits within the ODA criteria

You can also invite other types of organisations to join your project. Please see the guidance for applicants for further information.

Projects that we won't fund

The areas below are considered out of scope:

  • building physical infrastructure
  • projects that have negative environmental and social effects
  • solutions that are related to agricultural, animal and medical waste
  • smart water meters
  • solutions related to policing, security or relying on military research and intervention

Funding and project details

This competition is part of the UK–Malaysia Newton-Ungku Omar Fund.

In Malaysia, the competition is funded by PlaTCOM Ventures and is supported by the Malaysian Innovation Agency (AIM) and SME Corp Malaysia.

In the UK, Innovate UK have allocated up to £3 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Innovate UK will fund the UK project partners and PlaTCOM Ventures will fund project partners from Malaysia.

All projects must involve at least one UK business and one Malaysian SME. The project leads must be a business in the UK and an SME in Malaysia.

Project types

Projects must focus on industrial research. Work packages that include elements of experimental development will be considered within projects that predominantly target industrial research. Those work packages that are primarily experimental development will receive the appropriate grant percentage.

For industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs 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 work packages, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs 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.

We expect projects to last 2 years. We expect projects to range in size from total project costs of £300,000 to £500,000 on the UK side. This would mean a total project grant not exceeding £400,000.

Information on funding for project partners from Malaysia is included in the competition guidance for applicants (available once the competition opens).

The competition scope

The aim of this competition is to fund collaborative technological solutions that address one or more of the challenges listed below.

Projects and their outcomes must fit with the official development assistance (ODA) criteria. This aims to boost economic development and have a positive social or environmental effect on the wider Malaysian society.

Challenge 1: urban mobility

Traffic congestion in Malaysia is a problem in most of the country’s major cities, with serious consequences for people’s health and economic productivity.

Consortia are encouraged to bring together eligible UK and Malaysian partners to put forward solutions to urban congestion by:

  • improving public transport services
  • increasing use of public transport
  • enhancing the user experience through public service integration

The solutions we are calling for should fit one of the following scope areas:

  • data and systems integration
  • service delivery
  • first-mile and last-mile connectivity between transport nodes and people’s homes
  • multi-modal transport connectivity
Challenge 2: urban waste

Malaysia has experienced decades of intense growth for densely populated areas with large-scale industrialisation. As a result, Malaysian cities need to find new solutions to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. The current situation has a negative effect on the urban environment, with dump-site pollution spreading to the air and water streams. Solutions that reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and increase the number of recycled resources have an important social, economic and environmental role to play in Malaysian urban areas.

Consortia are invited to put forward innovations that help Malaysian cities provide scalable solutions to their urban waste management challenges. Proposals should fit one of the following scope areas:

  • new affordable processes to recover, separate or extract valuable components from urban household or commercial waste streams
  • development of new technologies for community-owned recycling schemes based on a viable ‘circular economy’ model
Challenge 3: urban water management

Urban water management presents major challenges in Malaysia:

  • non-revenue water (water lost in the distribution system before reaching consumers)
  • urban flooding

Both challenges relate to climatic extremes faced by Malaysian urban environments. These include sustained droughts affecting water reserves and provision, and cloud bursts that put pressure on urban water management infrastructure. These events pose environmental and health risks to Malaysian urban citizens.

Eligible consortia are invited to develop innovative solutions that would allow Malaysian cities to minimise the impact of climate extremes. Proposals should also improve safety and ensure adequate water provision for the city population.

The solutions we are calling for should fit one of the scope areas below:

  • water leak non-intrusive detection and management
  • municipal flash flood detection
  • urban flood response systems
2 May 2017
Competition opens
11 May 2017
Briefing event for applicants
8 June 2017
Partnering webinar
30 August 2017 12:00pm
Registration closes
6 September 2017
Submission deadline, competition closed 12:00 midday
6 September 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
12 January 2018
Applicants notified

How to apply

To apply:

  • the lead applicant must register online
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • watch the webinar briefing event for potential applicants from 11 May 2017
  • complete and upload your online application on our secure server

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A panel of independent experts from the UK and Malaysia will assess your proposal. We will choose the best proposals from those that meet the aims of this competition. We will then select the projects that we fund, to build a portfolio of projects as described in the general guidance for applicants.

Please read this guidance carefully before you apply. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

Guidance for applicants

Please view the guidance and application questions for this competition.
Please note there was an update to the guidance document. On page 15 it listed the proportion of total eligible cost and grant type per applicant as a 50/50 split. This should have read as a 70/30 split. The guidance document has been updated accordingly.

Background and further information

Innovate UK helps translate the UK’s innovation expertise into business solutions in emerging economies. We enable collaborative solutions to overseas socio-economic challenges.

We do this by supporting British companies to establish global partnerships and exchange knowledge with organisations in some of the most dynamic markets in the world. The size, diversity and potential of Malaysia’s markets present significant opportunities for innovative UK businesses.

For this reason, Innovate UK and the PlaTCOM Ventures are jointly funding this competition. We are running it as part of the UK–Malaysia Newton-Ungku Omar Fund. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy leads the Newton Fund in the UK.

About the Newton Fund

The Newton Fund was established in 2014 and will operate until 2021. The Newton Fund forms part of the UK government’s ODA. It uses science and innovation partnerships to improve the economic development and social welfare of 16 partner countries, including Malaysia. There is a total of £735 million funding available from the UK government for the duration of the fund. Partner countries contribute extra matched funding.

Further help and information

To find suitable domestic and overseas partners, please consider the following opportunities:

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

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