Funding competition Open grant funding competition: round 2

Opportunity to apply for a share of up to £20 million to deliver game changing or disruptive innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in the best cutting-edge or disruptive ideas or concepts with a view to commercialisation.

All proposals must be business focused (rather than pure research). Applications can come from any area of technology, science or engineering, including arts, design, media or creative industries, and be applied to any part of the economy.

Proposals can fit into, or be outside of, one or more of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas.

Where appropriate, we will share application details with other potential public sector co-funders.

All projects must start by 1 March 2019.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Total eligible project costs must be within the following ranges. Project duration between 6 and 18 months: total cost between £25,000 and £500,000. Project duration between 19 and 36 months: total cost between £25,000 and £2 million.

Who can apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-based business of any size or an RTO
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK
  • be an SME to work alone
  • include an SME if you want to collaborate with others (businesses, research base and/or third sector)

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

An applicant can only lead one project application per competition round. If more than one application is submitted with the same lead, only the first application will be considered for assessment.

Applicants may partner in as many applications as they wish.

Academics cannot lead on an application but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

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 will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

Research and technology organisations

If you are a research and technology organisation (RTO) then the following rules apply:

  1. RTOs are able to participate in Innovate UK run competitions, both as project leads and as project partners.
  2. To lead on an application RTOs must have 2, or more, business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size). There must be a credible route to market for the output of the project, and since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.
  3. Where RTOs are project partners, they can participate as either knowledge providers, and receive 100% grant, or as business entities, and be reimbursed a percentage of their eligible costs, depending upon their size and the nature of the work.
  4. If participating as a business, they must show that the match funding they are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects they are involved in. They must also be able to show how they will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.
  5. The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

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

Resubmissions

If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you may reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. You can reapply into another round of this competition or another competition. In other words, you can make a maximum of 2 applications in total with any proposal.

Funding

We have allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

The lead organisation must claim funding through this competition.

If your project has total eligible costs or duration outside the specified range or duration it will be deemed out of scope and ineligible.

Total eligible project costs must be within the following ranges:

  1. Project duration between 6 to 18 months: total costs must be between £25,000 and £500,000 and may be either single company or collaborative applications.
  2. Project duration between 19 to 36 months: total costs must be between £25,000 and £2,000,000 and must be collaborative.

Your proposal

This competition provides innovation R&D funding from feasibility (including market research), through to technology or prototype testing and development stages up to (but not including) commercialisation.

Proposals must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • ideas that are significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays and so on) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • good value for money which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion

Applicants wishing to submit projects over £2 million as a permitted exception must contact customer services with full justification at least 10 days before applying.

Specific themes

Proposals must demonstrate clear, considerable potential to significantly impact the UK economy and/or productivity in a positive way.

Preference will be given to applications that demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets.

We particularly welcome proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale-up.

Where possible, projects should take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities. These may include feasibility studies, industrial research projects or experimental development projects.

Project types

Projects can focus on:

  • feasibility studies, which may include market research
  • industrial research
  • experimental development depending on the challenge identified and proposed solution

For feasibility studies and industrial research, 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

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund proposals that:

  • do not meet the competition scope
  • do not address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
  • do not evidence the potential for their idea or concept leading to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business
  • are from companies which have a current project funded through the Smart programme that will not have its project completion meeting before the close date for this competition

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Separate applications can be submitted for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). KTPs link companies with an academic or research organisation and a graduate.

Please note that this is completely separate from the Open application and therefore has separate open and close dates.

KTP applications should follow the specific guidance for KTPs.

12 July 2018
Competition opens
20 July 2018
Briefing event recording.
13 September 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
26 November 2018
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality 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 collaborate in the project if your application is successful (subject to eligibility and approval by Innovate UK)

Collaborating organisations can be other businesses, research organisations or third sector.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Application details
  2. Application questions
  3. Finances

1. Application 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 does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. List any 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. 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. Please 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 be rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your answers to these questions will be scored by the assessors. You will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1: Need or challenge

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

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 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?

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 can submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3: Team and resources

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

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
  • (if your project is collaborative) 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 can submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 1MB and up to 4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

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?

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 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?

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

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 can upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

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 will you manage this?

You can upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 1MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9: Added value

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

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 businesses 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?

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

Extra help

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

If you need more information, call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at support@innovateuk.gov.uk.

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