Funding competition Canada-UK Ocean Collaborative R&D: Expression of Interest

UK registered organisations, can apply for a share of up to £2 million for collaborative research and development projects with Canadian organisations, resulting in innovative solutions for the ocean technologies sector.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster to invest a combined total up to £4 million in innovation projects that can involve a collaboration of industry and academia. The funding will support projects to deliver innovative outcomes in ocean technology.

Innovate UK will fund UK partners to collaborate with Canadian partners as our co-funding counterparts on industrial research projects, over a 12 month period.

This is stage 1 of a 2 stage competition.

1. Expression of Interest (EoI) (this competition): your proposal is reviewed by Innovate UK. Your Canadian partners’ proposal is reviewed by Ocean Supercluster Canada. Innovate UK and Ocean Supercluster are responsible for the decision to progress your EoI proposal to stage 2. There is no funding in this stage, funding will be awarded in stage 2.

2. Full stage application (FSA) (invite only): if you are successful in this EoI competition, you will be invited to apply to the full stage competition. Your proposal will be subject to an independent assessment by Innovate UK. Your Canadian partners’ proposal will be reviewed by Ocean Supercluster Canada. You will receive feedback on your application from Innovate UK. The Canadian partners in your project will receive feedback from Ocean Supercluster Canada.

The aim of this competition is to stimulate the development and implementation of innovative technologies in ocean technology, and to build technical capabilities required for the development and economically sustainable production of the next-generation of products and services.

The bilateral research and development (R&D) collaborations between the UK and Canada will enable both countries to be well positioned to respond to improvements in ocean technology.

Your project must focus on one of the following themes:

  • alternative energy
  • aquaculture systems
  • seaweed cultivation and production
  • carbon capture and storage
  • autonomous vessels or ocean systems
  • robotics & drones
  • ocean sensors and environmental monitoring

UK participants must be part of an application submitted to Innovate UK. Canadian partners must submit a parallel application to the Ocean Supercluster Competition.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

For UK applicants this competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

The total grant funding request for all UK partners can be between £165,000 and £500,000 for each application. The total funding request for all Canadian partners combined can be between CA$280,000 and CA$850,000 for each application.

Who can apply

Text update 13 September 2023: Additional guidance on involvement of partners from both countries removed to avoid confusion.

Your project

This application is for an Expression Of Interest (EoI). No funding will be awarded at this stage. If you are successful, then you will be invited to apply for funding in the full stage competition.

Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request between £165,000 to £500,000 allocated to UK organisations
  • have a total grant funding request between CA$280,000 to CA$850,000 for Canadian partners
  • have no more than 60% of the total grant funding request allocated to UK organisations
  • have no more than 60% of the total grant funding request allocated to Canadian organisations
  • start by 1 June 2024
  • last up to 12 months

If your project’s total costs or start date fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to and at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Applications identified as not eligible by either Innovate UK or Ocean Supercluster will not be sent for assessment.

In order to receive any grant funding, your project proposal must be successful on both sides of the consortium and be invited to apply for the full stage. If successful at full stage, UK participants will receive grant funding from Innovate UK and Canadian participants will receive grant funding from Ocean Supercluster. UK participants must be part of an application submitted to Innovate UK. Canadian partners must submit a parallel application to Ocean Supercluster.

All businesses in a consortium must be separate legal and non-linked entities. This is to ensure that projects encourage genuine international collaboration, not internal company research. Linked companies are considered a single entity under the parent company.

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, Innovate UK will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

To meet its reporting requirements to the Federal Government, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC) requires all Participants to a Project Agreement who receive matched funding from the OSC to disclose to the best of their ability whether their organization has any business dealings with or in Russia, as contemplated in the Sanctions related to Russia imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act or otherwise. This may include ownership or investors; board membership; established operations in foreign economies, including via subsidiaries; joint ventures or other close business relationships; as well as arm’s length business relationships, such as sales.

Please note we may be required to share this information with the Government of Canada and, depending on the response, additional information may be requested.

Lead organisation

To lead a UK application your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming UK registered micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • partner with a Canadian registered SME, which must be a separate non-linked entity to the UK project partners
  • include at least one further eligible grant claiming partner from either the UK or Canada

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

Project team

All collaborations must include at least 3 eligible organisations from Canada and the UK as part of the project.

UK Team - To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each UK partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs in the application.

Canadian partners must not be invited onto Innovate UK’s IFS application platform. Their involvement in the project is listed as part of your answers to the questions. If you include a grant claiming Canadian partner in your IFS application you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK or Canada 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 or Canada.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK and Canadian 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 business of any size can lead on one application and partner on two further applications.

Other UK organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can 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)

The full stage competition will provide funding in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (

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 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.


Innovate UK and Canada’s Ocean Supercluster will invest a combined total of up to £4 million to fund innovation projects in the full stage of this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

Each country will fund its eligible participants according to their national procedure and funding rules. Funding conditions and eligibility criteria may vary between UK and Canada. However, the bilateral joint cooperation between the partners and its added value is an important aspect to be considered within the evaluation.

UK organisations

As a UK partner, 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 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 micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation
Please note: there is a flat 50% rate for Canadian organisations.

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.

Research participation for UK applicants

The UK research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the UK partners 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 a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Canadian collaborators

See the Canadian call page for more information in English and French for Canadian eligibility and funding rules.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to foster and support collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships.

Your joint Canadian and UK project must focus on innovations in ocean technology.

Your project must demonstrate:

  • a focus on co-development, adaption, 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 ocean technology from lab prototypes to industry ready systems for commercial use through integration of innovative and scalable technologies
If your project includes testing in real-world environments you must explain how you will account for local and national regulation and seasonal environmental conditions.

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, strands, markets, technological maturities, theme, location, and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach. We also reserve the right to apply a portfolio approach based on the number of applications into this competition from each organisation.

Specific themes

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

  • alternative energy
  • aquaculture systems
  • seaweed cultivation and production
  • carbon capture and storage
  • autonomous vessels or ocean systems
  • robotics and drones
  • ocean sensors and environmental monitoring

Research categories

At the full stage for this competition we will fund feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • subsidise existing production or full production activities
  • contain project costs that are resident in a previously approved Ocean Supercluster project
  • do not have a collaboration agreement with at least one Canadian micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • are collaborations involving less than 3 eligible organisations
  • do not meet Innovate UK’s eligibility criteria

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

11 September 2023
Competition opens
13 September 2023
Online briefing event: watch the recording
18 October 2023 11:00am
Competition closes
22 November 2023 2:14pm
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 invited UK 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 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. 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. Watch the video 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 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.

Application team

Decide which UK 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.


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

The assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess and how we select applications for funding.

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. Need or challenge

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


  • the main motivation for the project
  • 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

Question 3. Approach and innovation

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


  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on any 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
  • 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 reports, 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 4. Outcomes and route to market

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


  • 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
  • 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 5. 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 6. Project management

How will you manage your project effectively?


  • 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 7. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?


  • 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 other requirements identified, 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 8. 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

Background and further information

The bilateral research and development (R&D) collaborations between UK and Canada will enable both countries to be well positioned to respond to improvements in ocean technology.

This program will also help to address the shared priorities of Canada and the UK by promoting partnerships between micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from each country and enhancing connectivity across other relevant stakeholders, for example, academic and government research institutions and national assets.

The support of a diverse portfolio of technologies and platforms is envisioned in order to build the desired flexibility and capabilities into the ecosystem.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and Ocean Supercluster (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 Ocean Supercluster 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 Ocean Supercluster 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 Ocean Supercluster 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

If you want help to find a project partner, you can use our specifically created B2Match website.

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 your application is unsuccessful

If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following 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.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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