Funding competition Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (large consortia strand)

UK businesses and research can apply for a share of £12 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This is to develop AI and data enabled products and services within accountancy, insurance and legal services.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections

Description

UK Research and Innovation will invest up to £12 million in innovation projects to support the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and data technologies. Projects should aim to transform the 3 target sectors:

  1. Accountancy
  2. Insurance
  3. Legal services

These are sectors where there is an imminent threat from overseas competition.

This competition is part of the Next Generation Services Challenge. This is a joined up national innovation programme. It supports projects from applied research through feasibility studies to experimental development.

All projects should show how they will address challenges which will delay or adversely impact adoption. For example this can include issues around ethics, privacy, bias and transparency and how people’s acceptance and behaviours will affect the service transformation.

We expect you to include representation from relevant disciplines such as mathematics, computer science and social science. This is so that projects will meet the challenges associated with complex multi/interdisciplinary issues

There are 2 strands to this competition. This strand is for large consortia projects, which businesses, RTOs or academic institutes can lead. The other strand running in parallel to this is for smaller projects.

We are expecting to fund between £8 million and £10 million of grants in this strand. We reserve the right to manage budgets between the 2 strands to ensure a balanced programme.

If your project size falls outside of our scope, contact us before you apply.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Total project costs should be between £2 million and £4 million, and projects should last up to 2.5 years. Projects should plan to start by 1 December 2018 and all projects must complete by 31 March 2021.

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)
  • work in collaboration with one or more organisations
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK

The lead organisation must claim funding through this competition. At least one other organisation in the consortium must also claim funding.

All projects must involve an SME.

Any one organisation can lead on one application and can be a partner in any number of applications.

If an RTO or academic is the lead on an application they must:

  • have at least 2 business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size)
  • not lead on any other application but they can be a partner in any number of applications

The research organisations collaborating as part of a project may share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation they must share this maximum between them.

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

Funding

We have allocated up to £12 million across the 2 strands in this competition. This will fund innovation projects, with sector-wide involvement and benefit.

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 3 team members will make
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across the 3 target service sectors. We will fund both large consortia and small-scale projects and varying technological maturities. These may include industrial research projects or experimental development projects.

Your proposal

This is a linked competition. We will fund 2 strands.

  1. Large consortia projects (this strand) addressing common, sector wide challenges requiring a co-ordinated approach across, for example, supply chains or regulators. These projects can include academic researchers in social sciences, humanities, computer science and mathematics. These projects need to show significant transformational impact on the sector.
  2. Smaller projects aiming to apply AI and data techniques in new ways within accountancy, insurance and legal services. These smaller projects can be from single companies or small consortia.

The aim of this competition is to speed up the responsible adoption of AI and data technologies and solutions to transform the accountancy, insurance and legal services sectors.

Examples of sector-wide challenges include:

  1. Fraud identification, prevention and mitigation
  2. Continuous audit or achieving statutory audit requirements in more comprehensive ways
  3. Risk assessment, management and pricing including identification of new signals from novel data sources
  4. Conveyancing
  5. Automatic review of large quantities of text documents to deliver new insights or new information

We will only fund projects that directly address the service areas of accountancy, insurance and legal services and that involve the use of AI and/or data analytics.

Your project needs to include the following:

  • clear consideration of end user experience and design
  • the development of new approaches and solutions in the use of data and AI for the 3 target services sectors
  • a clear description of how you will take the product to the marketplace
  • consideration of broader, non-technical aspects that adoption of AI and use of data bring, including ethics, bias, privacy, transparency

Specific themes

We are particularly encouraging applications that:

  • cover more than one of the 3 target service sectors
  • address broad sector-wide needs
  • are from consortia that include all relevant stakeholders, for example regulators, users, service providers and technology providers
  • are for solutions that address the “black-box challenge” of AI and bring transparency to machine supported decisions
  • offer solutions that address human concepts such as ’reasonableness’ and ‘justice’ when using AI
  • are for projects that are multi-disciplinary and include social science as well as science and engineering

Project types

Your project can focus on industrial research or experimental development.

For 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 address:

  • accountancy, insurance or legal services
  • sector wide needs and benefits

5 June 2018
Webcast recording.
11 June 2018
Briefing event Manchester.
18 June 2018
Competition opens
19 June 2018
Briefing event Cardiff.
21 June 2018
Briefing event Edinburgh.
26 June 2018
Briefing event Belfast.
16 August 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
5 November 2018
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a successful 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 we will invite you to attend an interview.

Presentations should be a maximum of 30 minutes long, with no more than 15 slides (using Microsoft PowerPoint). Please do not include any video or embedded web links. This will be followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers.

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

Up to 5 people from your project can attend the interview panel. There should be one person from each organisation. 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.

We will expect you 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 800 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
  • 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 you will 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.

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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