Funding competition UKBIC SME Credit Round 2 - processing for electrode and cells

UK registered micro, small and medium enterprise, can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million to increase and facilitate their engagement with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC). This funding is from Faraday Battery Challenge.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with Faraday Battery Challenge to invest up to £1.5 million in innovation scale-up projects.

The aim of this competition is to:

  • support a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise’s (SME) research and development for the scale-up of battery technologies within the UK
  • support an SME to access the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) and demonstrate technologies at suitable scales to customers
  • increase engagement with UKBIC
  • move UK battery innovations from technological potential towards commercial capability
  • develop and secure material and manufacturing supply chains for battery technologies in the UK

SMEs will be able to access UKBIC's giga-scale facilities for:

  • complete cell development project iterations, for example, electrode through cells, includes mixing and coating, calendering and slitting, up to cell assembly, formation and ageing
  • prove electrodes at scale for example, electrode only, includes mixing and coating, calendering and slitting
  • developing cell to module and pack assembly processes and associated testing
  • testing process measurement and control systems on the UKBIC cell manufacturing process line, while considering integration for closed loop control of processes
  • using novel software analytical methods for manufacturing and cell formation data

Your proposal must demonstrate that you have developed or proven your innovation to a technology readiness level (TRL) 5 or above.

This competition is split into 2 strands:

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

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

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated in this Innovate UK competition brief. We cannot guarantee other government or third party sites will always show the correct competition information.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £100,000 and £1 million.

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 making reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You can contact us at any time to ask for guidance.

We recommend you contact us at least 15 working days before this competition’s closing date to allow us to put the most suitable support in place. The support we can provide may be limited if you contact us close to the competition deadline.

You can contact Innovate UK by email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £100,000 and £1 million
  • last between 3 and 9 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start by 1 July 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025

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, this competition 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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

The majority of the costs for this grant funding must be subcontracting, of which UKBIC is the primary eligible subcontractor for this competition.

All other subcontractor costs above 10% of the value of the project, will be deemed ineligible.

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

An SME can only submit one application.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

Previous applications

You cannot 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)

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 the Windsor Framework 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.

Funding

Up to £1.5 million has been allocated 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 your experimental development project you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 45% as a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Note: only the costs for materials manufactured by the SME, used in the project, are eligible. This is where the total value of materials allowed is not more than 20% of the total project costs in this competition.

Material development at a suitable scale, at a third party location, can also be an eligible cost.

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.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to:

  • support a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise’s (SME) research and development for the scale-up of battery technologies within the UK
  • support an SME to access the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) and demonstrate technologies at suitable scales to customers
  • increase engagement with UKBIC
  • move UK battery innovations from technological potential towards commercial capability
  • develop and secure material and manufacturing supply chains for battery technologies in the UK

Your project must demonstrate that you have developed or proven your innovation to a technology readiness level (TRL) 5 or above.

Your proposal must clearly demonstrate:

  • the current maturity of your project or innovation including scale, yield and quality
  • the work done to date to validate and prove your technology at its current level of maturity
  • that your project or innovation is appropriate for, and compatible with, the giga-scale compatible pilot-line production facilities at UKBIC, for example, material and scale compatibility
  • how you intend to use the UKBIC giga-scale pilot-line facilities
  • the availability of materials and consumables for the project
  • the nature of the outputs expected from the project
  • the volume of product expected at the end of the project, if applicable
  • how you will validate product performance
  • how your project will accelerate your route to market
  • how you will engage with customers during and following the project
  • how the project outputs and outcomes will facilitate customer engagement

UKBIC operates an advanced and high throughput but conventional lithium iron (Li-ion) process line. This means that not all materials or processes will be compatible. Solid State processes are not viable on the existing line at this stage.

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets and technological maturities.We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific themes

Your project must build and secure the UK supply chain for battery technologies.

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

  • complete electrode and cell manufacturing process
  • electrode manufacturing processes at scale
  • new electrode formulations at scale, line compatibility to be confirmed dependent on specific solvent, either water or NMP, and material
  • proving electrodes or other cell assembly processes at scale, for example, electrode only, includes mixing and coating, calendering and slitting
  • developing cell to module and pack assembly processes and associated testing
  • testing process measurement and control systems on the UKBIC cell manufacturing process line, while considering integration for closed loop control of processes
  • using novel software analytical methods for manufacturing and call formation data generated from UKBIC internal programmes only, with opportunities to leverage on data generated from a number of internal runs at UKBIC to support your innovation still retaining your intellectual property (IP)

You can use the UKBIC facility for:

  • trial novel mixing
  • coating
  • slitting and calendering
  • line-side and online gauging
  • measurement and visions systems across all call manufacturing processes

Note: the trials may be undertaken on UKBIC internal development runs, with opportunities for you to leverage on data generated from a number of internal runs at UKBIC to support your innovation whilst retaining your IP.

You can also focus on alternative materials or processes that will yield manufacturing energy reduction at scale, for example:

  • materials or processes, not equipment or monitoring, that reduce the need for very dry electrode handling environments
  • reduce electrode drying energy whilst maintaining electrode performance and characteristics

Research categories

We will fund experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • are cells assembly, formation and testing without the electrode stage
  • are non-compatible materials, for example, lithium sulfur
  • are non-compatible solvents, currently only water and NMP based processes can be undertaken at UKBIC
  • are non-compatible cell formats, for example, 46xx, 18650 cylindrical calls and prismatic calls
  • are solid state battery processes
  • use technology which has not been proven at least TRL 4 to 5

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

8 January 2024
Competition opens
16 January 2024
Online briefing event: register to attend
6 March 2024 11:00am
Competition closes
11 April 2024
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

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 four sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.
  4. Project Impact.

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 making reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You can contact us at any time to ask for guidance.

We recommend you contact us at least 15 working days before this competition’s closing date to allow us to put the most suitable support in place. The support we can provide may be limited if you contact us close to the competition deadline.

You can contact Innovate UK by email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

1. Project details

This section provides background for your application and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which people from your organisation will work with you on the project and invite those people to help complete the application

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

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.

Public description

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.

Scope

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 questions 1 and 2. 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.. 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 subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Animal Testing (not scored)

Will your project involve any trials with animals or animal testing?

You must select one option:

  • Yes
  • No

We will only support innovation projects conducted to the highest standards of animal welfare.

Further information for proposals involving animal testing is available at the UKRI Good Research Hub and NC3R’s animal welfare guidance.

Question 3. Need or challenge and current status of innovation

What is the business need, technological challenge, or market opportunity behind your innovation? What stage of maturity is your innovation at and how is it compatible with UKBICs requirements?

Explain:

  • the main motivation for the project and your innovation
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • whether you have identified any similar innovation and its current limitations, including those close to market or in development
  • the work you have already done to develop your innovation including information on the facilities used and the scale and quality achieved
  • the current maturity of the design of the product, including metrics pertaining to yield, quality and quantity
  • that your innovation is appropriate for and compatible with the giga-scale pilot-line production at UKBIC, for example, material compatibility

You can submit one technical appendix as evidence to validate the current maturity of your innovation. 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.

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

Question 4. Approach and innovation

What facility access do you require at UKBIC? What approach will you take and where will the focus of your innovation be?

Explain:

  • how you intend you use the UKBIC giga scale pilot-line facilities
  • the availability of materials or consumables appropriate for the facilities
  • the nature of the outputs expected from the project, for example, demonstrator, know how, new process, product
  • if applicable, the volume of product expected at the end of the project
  • how you will validate product performance
  • 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

Your answer to this question can be up to 600 words long.

You can submit one technical 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 5. Team and resources

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

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 in addition to the use of UKBIC and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

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

You can submit one appendix, with a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Market awareness

What does the market or markets you are targeting look like?

Your answer must focus on your target markets and your innovation. You are not required to make the global strategic case for electric vehicles and batteries.

Describe:

  • the target markets for your project outcomes and any other potential markets, either domestic, international or both
  • the size of the target markets for your 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 be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

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

Question 7. Outcomes and route to market

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

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 or end users, and the value to them, for example, why they would use or buy your product
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the project will accelerate your route to market
  • how you will engage with customers during or following the project and how the project outputs or outcomes will facilitate customer engagement
  • 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

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

Question 8. 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 economy

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

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

Question 9. Project management

How will you manage your project effectively?

Explain:

  • the main work packages of your project, indicating the organisation 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
  • outline any critical time dependencies and how you will work with UKBIC to schedule your use of the facility, if you are successful, scheduling your use of the UKBIC facility may result in your project not starting or finishing at the desired time
  • 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.

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

Question 10. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental and project timeline 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.

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

Question 11. Added value

How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? What impact would this award have on your organisation?

Explain:

  • what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example, appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market
  • the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what other routes of investment or means of support you have already approached and why they were not suitable
  • how any existing or potential investment or support will be used in conjunction with the grant funding
  • what your product or innovation development timeline would look like without public funding
  • how this project would change the scale-up activities of your organisation
  • any perceived benefit to UKBIC in working with you on your product or innovation

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

Question 12. 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 your organisation will finance your contribution to the 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
  • any additional subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project

3. Finances

Your organisation must complete your project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance. You can also view our Application Finances video.

4. Project Impact

This section is not scored but will provide background to your project.

You must complete the Project Impact questions before being able to submit the application.

More information can be found in our Project Impact guidance and by viewing our Impact Management Framework video.

Background and further information

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is part of the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge providing £130 million from 2017.

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future.

The unique facility provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Based in Coventry, the publicly-funded battery product development facility welcomes:

  • manufacturers
  • entrepreneurs
  • researchers
  • educators

This can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology, if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.

UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC), a government programme to fast track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) (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 UKBIC 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 UKBIC 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 UKBIC will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy

UKBIC Privacy Policy

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and is committed to upholding data protection legislation, and protecting your information in accordance with data protection principles.

The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK Business Growth

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK Business Growth. 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 Business Growth, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Assessment

Your application will be reviewed by up to 5 independent assessors based on the content of your application and their skills or expertise relevant to your project. All of the scores awarded will count towards the total score used to make the funding decision unless you are notified otherwise.

You can find out more about our assessment process in the General Guidance.

Your submitted application will be assessed against these criteria.

Next steps

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 Innovation Funding Service (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
  • an exploitation plan

In order for us to process your claims, you must make sure you have a valid UK business bank account. It can take several weeks for a new account to be created if required. We recommend starting this process as early as possible to avoid any delays to your project start date.

The bank account which grant is to be paid into must:

  • be a business account in the same name as the organisation listed in IFS
  • be from a UK bank regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)
  • have a cheque and credit clearing facility

Online accounts are eligible as long as they meet the above criteria.

Innovate UK will accept most banking societies apart from:

  • Viva Wallet
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Equals Money UK Limited

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.

Finance checks

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 for us to approve. Once approved we will send you an email with permission to start your project on your confirmed start date.

You must not start your project before the date stated on your email and GOL. Any costs incurred before your agreed 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. 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 support@iuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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