Funding competition Accelerated Knowledge Transfer 3 (AKT3) 2024

UK registered academic institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £1 million to fund innovation projects with businesses and not for profit organisations.

Start new application

Or sign in to continue an existing application.

Competition sections

Description

The Innovate UK Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) scheme will support a Knowledge Base partner, in working with their Business Partner, to deliver a short, rapid and targeted intervention. This intervention will accelerate the evaluation or development of an innovation project or concept, with the potential for a significant impact for the Business Partner.

Projects must be in circular fashion thematic area.

The Knowledge Base partner must be eligible to register to participate in the KTP programme but does not have to be registered with KTP.

Each Innovate UK AKT project will establish a new partnership or consolidate an existing collaboration between the Knowledge Base and the Business Partner through knowledge exchange activity.

The application must be submitted by the Knowledge Base partner but will be developed in partnership with the Business Partner. The Knowledge Base will be the sole grant recipient.

If you are a business and do not yet have a relationship with a knowledge base partner, contact your local knowledge base to discuss this opportunity in more detail.

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

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

Project size

Projects must run for two, three or four months only. The maximum grant will be £35,000 per project. The Business Partner must contribute 10% (minimum) of the total project costs in cash. There is no upper limit to the cash contribution of the business.

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

This award has been designed to be provided on a no subsidy basis, as defined in the Subsidy Control Act 2022.

This means to be eligible, the award will not give an economic advantage on one or more organisations, and you must not be acting economically as an organisation within the meaning of the act.

In limited circumstances, EU State aid rules may apply under The Windsor Framework and a ‘No Aid’ award may be given in accordance with the R&D&I Framework.

Your project

Projects must be in the circular fashion thematic area.

Each Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) project is a partnership between a:

  • UK knowledge base, acting as lead organisation and submitting the application
  • UK registered business or not for profit organisation

We use the term ‘business partner’ for businesses, not for profit organisations, charities or charitable businesses.

The definition Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) uses for not for profit organisations, charities or charitable business include:

  • a registered charity
  • a registered Community Interest Company
  • a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation
  • a charitable company
  • an exempt or excepted charity
  • a registered charitable industrial and provident society or charitable Cooperative (Bencom)

A “charitable business” refers to an organisation which is both a registered company (normally a private company limited by guarantee) and a registered charity (all charities with an income over £5,000 p.a. being required to register with the Charity Commission).

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.

Knowledge base partner

The knowledge base partner cannot work alone.

The knowledge base partner must lead the project and must:

  • be a UK registered higher education (HE) or further education (FE) institution, research technology organisation (RTO) or Catapult
  • invite one UK registered business, not for profit organisation into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) application
  • provide a minimum of 0.25 days per week of supervision to the project
  • not have ownership of 50% or more of the business partner or a controlling interest through a shareholder agreement
  • complete the application form in partnership with the business
  • submit a current full economic costing (fEC) letter with each application if you are using the full fEC costing model and support the project in accordance with its provision, or submit the non fEC declaration letter
  • provide the project secretariat
  • reach an intellectual property (IP) agreement with the business partner before the project commences, if required
  • agree to attend specified meetings
  • ensure that none of the proposed academic team are directors, consultants or otherwise engaged by the business or group

The project must start within 6-weeks from the issue date on the Grant Offer Letter (GOL), which includes the recruitment of an associate.

As part of their involvement in the project the knowledge base partner must provide a case study to Innovate UK, using the template provided, upon completion of the project. The provision of the case study is linked to the no subsidy status of this competition.

Business partner

Business partners cannot work alone. They must develop the project with a UK knowledge base who can provide the right skills to meet the knowledge gap within the business.

We encourage business partners to approach knowledge bases directly to discuss the suitability of AKT for their specific circumstances.

To collaborate with a knowledge base, the business partner must:

  • be a UK registered business or not for profit organisation
  • have four or more full time equivalent employees
  • complete the application form in partnership with the knowledge base partner
  • provide the knowledge base with evidence of their ability to financially support their contribution
  • be able to host the associate and provide them with supervisory support
  • if appliable, reach a written IP agreement with the knowledge base before the project commences

The AKT programme is accessible to any UK registered business. This is normally demonstrated on a public register, such as on Companies House.

The registered name and registration number provided must match the official public register.

UK subsidiary businesses of overseas parent companies are eligible, provided they are individually registered in the UK.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are not allowed in this competition.

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:

No subsidy (and non-aid where applicable)

No subsidy

This competition has been designed to provide funding that is not classed by Innovate UK as a subsidy.

Your eligibility to be given an award on a ‘No Subsidy’ basis will be determined by Innovate UK after you have submitted your application.

You should still seek independent legal advice on what this means for you, before applying.

Further information about the Subsidy Control Act 2022 requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

It is the responsibility of the lead organisation to make sure all collaborators in the project remain compliant with the ‘No Subsidy’ status they are awarded.

It is important to note that it is the activity that an organisation is engaged in as part of the project and not its intentions, that define whether any support provided could be considered a subsidy.

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 regime you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

Funding

Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) is closely related to Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme and shares a number of common elements, including guidance around costs.

Find out about the cost of participating in AKT and understand which project costs are eligible for funding.

Any funding is provided on a no subsidy basis. This means you must publish or make all project outputs openly available on a non-selective basis. If you decide to commercially exploit project outputs, you can only do so with no selective advantage.

Project budgets

Innovate UK has allocated up to £1 million in this round of the AKT programme, which will contribute towards the total costs of the individual projects.

Applicants should follow the AKT costing model for Knowledge Base Supervisor, Associate and Additional Associate Support costs.

There is no upper limit to project costs, but any costs over £35,000 must be met by the business partner.

Project costs allocated to travel, consumables and estates may not exceed £3,500. Costs exceeding this amount must be met by the business partner and listed as part of their additional contribution.

Guidance on costing projects can be found in the Innovate UK – AKT Cost Guidance document.

The Business Partner must commit to a minimum 10% cash contribution to the project in addition to resourcing its own project costs. The Knowledge Base is responsible for recovering this.

Budget Exclusions

The following are ineligible for grant support:

  • costs for IT equipment for example, computers, cloud storage, software
  • equipment purchases or the purchase goods used for promotional purposes, only consumable costs are eligible for support
  • payments in any form for participants in trials, focus groups or similar
  • agency fees from outside the knowledge base

Travel, Consumables and Estates costs must be claimed excluding VAT. VAT is not eligible to be recovered by the grant.

Additionally, the business partner must fund:

  • items listed in the additional costs section of the application form
  • the time spent on the project by their own staff
  • other non-eligible costs such as the purchase of capital equipment
  • commercialisation of the project outputs

Application rules

All applicants should read and understand the following:

If you have any questions regarding the rules of this competition, you should contact Innovate UK Customer Support, prior to submission.

By submitting your application, you acknowledge that you are entering a competitive process and that you will abide by the outcome of the competition.

Your project

Your application must be for a specific innovation project in the thematic area of circular fashion.

Additional information on the thematic area can be found in Supporting information.

Projects can be for any kind of project and must show:

  • why the business needs this Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) project
  • how the project will accelerate access to Knowledge Base expertise and evaluate or develop an innovative idea for the Business Partner
  • how it will stimulate demand within the Business Partner to deliver further innovations and accelerate delivery through partnership with the UK’s Knowledge Base

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund:

  • projects that will not enhance expertise or the evaluation of a specific business idea
  • projects that seem unlikely to stimulate demand for the business partners
  • projects that do not meet the eligibility requirements
  • research projects
  • projects where the business partner is a public sector organisation
  • projects where the business does not contribute a minimum of 10% of total project costs
  • projects that do not meet the requirements circular fashion
  • projects which are classed as State aid under EC regulations or a subsidy under the EU-UK TCA
  • projects with undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding
20 June 2024
Competition opens
1 July 2024
Briefing event: recording to follow
31 July 2024 11:00am
Competition closes
11 September 2024
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service and costs guidance for AKT projects before you start. Additional guidance is given for each question on the application form.

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 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.

You must complete all relevant sections of the application and upload the required documents using the templates provided. Failure to do so will result in the application being withdrawn from the competition.

You must not include any hyperlinks (URLs) in your answers. Inclusion of hyperlinks will lead to the application being withdrawn from the competition.

What we ask you

The application is split into three sections:

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

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 organisations will work with you on your project and invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

The allocated Monitoring Officer for AKT 3 is Lucia Vinolo Locubiche. You must invite Lucia as the knowledge transfer advisor (KTA) using the email address lucia.locubiche@iuk.ktn-uk.org.

Application Details

Give your applications title, following this format “Knowledge Base and Business Partner AKT 3”. You must use the full business name exactly as it appears on a public register, such as Companies House or Charity Commission Do not use any abbreviations.

For example: Anytown University and Shellen Ltd AKT 3

If your title is not correctly formatted, your application will be withdrawn.

Your answer can be up to 20 words long.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative.

What is the identified need that is driving the innovation?
What solution will be developed utilising the innovation?
What opportunities will be realised if the solution is successfully deployed?

Your answer can be up to 350 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.

The public description must begin with “To…”, for example “To develop a novel process for picking soft fruit.”

If your application is successful, Innovate UK will make use of this public description to comply with government requirements. We reserve the right to amend the description before publication.

Your answer can be up to 50 words long.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

To demonstrate how your project aligns with the scope of this competition you must:

  • read the competition brief in full
  • understand the background, challenges and scope of the competition

You must describe:

  • the chosen thematic area
  • why the business needs this Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) project
  • how the project will accelerate access to Knowledge Base expertise and evaluate or develop an innovative idea for the Business Partner
  • how it will stimulate demand within the Business Partner to deliver further innovations and accelerate delivery through partnership with the UK’s Knowledge Base

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

2. Application questions

You must answer all questions.

You must not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. 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 2. Project Type

Are you applying for a circular fashion AKT?

Select one:

  • Yes
  • No

If you answer ‘no’ your application will be made ineligible.

Question 3. Number of associates

How many associates do you need to support this project?

Up to 1 full time employee (FTE) will be funded.

Select one:

  • 1 associate
  • 2 associates

Question 4: Associate Identification

Do you know who the Associate for this project will be?

You will be asked to confirm this information during project start-up.

  • Yes
  • No

Question 5. Domain alignment

Which of the Innovate UK domains does your KTP most closely align with?

Guidance on the domains can be found on pages 21 to 23 of the Innovate UK strategic delivery plan 2022 to 2025.

Select one:

  • net zero (fashion)
  • healthy living and agriculture
  • digital and technologies
  • other

Question 6. Business partner type

What is the business partner type?

This refers to the applicant business not the parent group.

Select one:

  • limited company
  • limited liability partnership
  • partnership
  • public limited company
  • sole trader
  • unlimited company
  • charity
  • community interest company
  • charitable incorporated organisation
  • charitable company
  • charitable industrial and provident society
  • charitable cooperative

Question 7: Number of business employees

Does the business partner have four or more FTE or equivalent?

The business partner requires a minimum of four FTE to be eligible to participate in this competition.

  • Yes
  • No

Question 8. Project Duration

What is the planned duration of the project?

Select one:

  • 2 months
  • 3 months
  • 4 months

Question 9. Business partner size

Give the size of the business partner’s organisation. If the business partner is part of a group give the size of the overall group.

For more information on business sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.

Select one:

  • micro
  • small
  • medium
  • large

Question 10. Business partner SIC code

What is the business partner’s Standard Industrial Code (SIC)?

If the business partner is a registered charity, use 88990.

Your answer can be up to 10 words long.

Question 11. Business partner registration number

What is the business partner’s name and registration number?

This is normally demonstrated on a public register, such as Companies House or Charity Commission.

The registered name and registration number provided must match the official public register.

An incorrect name or number will result in the application being withdrawn from the competition.

If your organisation is not a registered business, but is a legal entity, please include additional information on your legal status as an appendix.

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, up to two A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Your answer can be up to 20 words long.

Question 12. Partnership Details

What is the name and the full registered addresses of your organisation and the business partner you are working with working on the project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Provide the full registered name and address of the knowledge base partner in this order. Do not include bullet points in your response:

  • building name or number and street
  • town or city
  • county
  • postcode

Provide the full registered name and address of the business partner in this order. Do not include bullet points in your response:

  • building name or number and street
  • town or city
  • county
  • postcode

Your answer can be up to 100 words long

Question 13. Business partner supervisor

Who is the business partner supervisor?

Give their details in this order. Do not include bullet points in your response:

Business partner supervisor

  • title
  • first name
  • surname
  • job title
  • email address

Your answer can be up to 50 words long.

Question 14. Knowledge base supervisor

Who is the Knowledge base supervisor?

Give their details in this order. Do not include bullet points in your response:

Business partner supervisor for associate 1

  • title
  • first name
  • surname
  • job title
  • email address

Your answer can be up to 50 words long

Question 15. Knowledge base supervisor’s background

What is the knowledge base supervisor’s background?

For each knowledge base supervisor:

  • describe how their subject knowledge, academic interest and experience are relevant to the project
  • give evidence that they have the necessary skills to contribute to the successful delivery of the project

Your answer can be up to 250 words long.

Question 16. Business area

What are the businesses current activities?

Explain:

  • current revenue generating activities
  • current business objectives

If the business partner is not generating revenues, provide details of their funding sources. If part of a business group, please also indicate the broader business activities undertaken by the group.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 17. Innovation

What is the innovation and what is the potential for significant impact on the business? This may address an external market opportunity or an internal opportunity within the business.

Explain:

  • the needs that are driving the innovation
  • how the project aligns to an internal need or external ‘market’
  • what opportunities will be realised if the solution is successfully deployed

Your answer can be up to 350 words long

Question 18. Challenges and Risks

What are the challenges and risks associated with developing the innovation for the business?

Explain:

  • what the challenges are and risks associated with delivery
  • if the acceptance, or non-acceptance, of the innovation (either internally or externally) have been considered
  • if there are any IP related challenges or risks

Your answer can be up to 350 words long

Question 19. Need for Business-Academic Partnership

Why is an academic and business partnership the most appropriate approach for this activity?

You must decide what:

  • skills, expertise, knowledge or capability the business needs to realise value from the innovation, and to what extent this funding will accelerate or enable the project
  • skills, expertise, knowledge or capability the academics have that will support the development of the innovation
  • options have been considered to continue the collaboration post-project

Your answer can be up to 350 words long

Question 20. Project Outcomes

If the development of the innovation is successful, what is the potential business impact?

Explain:

  • what the potential for additional environmental and societal impacts or benefits are
  • what the post-project actions and investments that may be necessary by the business to extract optimum value from the innovation are
  • what the potential internal or external and direct or indirect commercial impacts are

Your answer can be up to 350 words long

Question 21. Project Management

How will the project be managed and monitored to ensure an effective three-way partnership?

It is expected that the project team will meet at least once every two weeks either virtually or in person

Describe the regularity and frequency of meetings (a) at the Knowledge base (b) at the business.

Your answer can be up to 250 words long

Question 22. Project plan

Please give a high level summary of the plan to deliver the AKT project with a maximum of three Project Stages and a maximum of three Tasks per Project Stage.

You must give an indication of the number of weeks to be spent on each Task. An additional work plan is not required. You should use this section only to outline your plans for delivery.

Your answer can be up to 350 words long

Question 23. Associates Skills and Attributes

In order to deliver your project successfully, what are you looking for from your associates?

Briefly describe the essential and desirable:

  • qualifications
  • skills
  • attributes
  • experience

Your answer can be up to 200 words long

Question 24. Knowledge Base Declaration

You must confirm that as the Knowledge Base applicant, you will recover the Business Partner cash contribution in full.

You must select one:

  • Yes
  • No

If your answer is no, your application will be rejected and not progressed any further.

Question 25. Declaration of accuracy

You must agree to the following declaration.

The partnership confirms that the proposal meets the overarching criteria for AKT and, to the best of their knowledge, the information provided in this grant application form is accurate and complete. Select ‘Yes’ if you agree. If you select ‘No’ your application will not be considered for funding.

3. Finances

You must refer to the Innovate UK - Accelerated Knowledge Transfer Competition Guidance, FAQ and AKT3 Cost Guidance documents when completing this section.

All applications must be made using the full economic costing (FEC) model table in ‘Your project finances’. Knowledge bases that are not eligible for FEC funding, must upload the FEC exemption certificate.

The grant rate for all applicants is 90%.

Knowledge Bases must complete the ‘Your Project Costs table’, and where required list items for which funding is requested. It will support your application if you include additional explanation for the costs requested by responding ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Do your project costs exceed the allowed limits?’

The figure in the Finance Summary table ‘Funding sought’ by the knowledge base should not exceed £35,000, the maximum grant payable. Additional business contributions must be listed in the ‘Additional Costs section’ of the Knowledge Base project costs.

Business partners must register on the application system to complete their contribution to the ‘Your project finance’ section.

Any applications which do not meet the competition cost rules will not progress to assessment.

The minimum 10% Business Partner contribution will be applied evenly across all cost categories. The total Travel & Subsistence, Estates or Consumables costs must not exceed £3,500.

Background and further information

About the theme within this competition

Circular Fashion AKT

AKT projects will seek to de-risk innovation and support the transition for scalable circular and sustainable solutions within fashion’s supply chain to meet Net Zero Targets before 2050.

Within the context of AKT, projects may explore:

  • transparency and accountability of carbon footprint: reducing the environmental impact, design interventions, sourcing, and production of garments, decarbonising
  • sustainable manufacturing and design interventions for circularity and improved efficiency and output. For example, ground-breaking circularity-minded processes to support sustainable manufacturing for example, minimising use of water and solvents during production to less dependency on virgin materials and resources improved efficiencies, nature positive
  • addressing scope three emissions: emissions that businesses are indirectly responsible for through the actions of suppliers, distributors, and use of its products by consumers, tend to account for the largest proportion of an organisation’s carbon footprint
  • use of AI: efficient agile supply chains, enabling traceability in the supply chain (visibility across all tiers of manufacturing), to better demand planning transforming how shoppers find and buy clothes
  • transformative technologies and materials for example, to supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), on demand production to zero waste to supply chains of the future

This is not an exhaustive list. Other challenge areas that address fundamental issues within the fashion and textile industry that need resolving are welcome.

We are not funding projects that:

  • are not innovative and is not addressing an industry challenge
  • will have a negative impact on the environment
  • do not economically benefit the UK’s fashion and textile industry

About academic associate supervision

All academic supervision must be delivered weekly. Supervision can be delivered in one of two ways, either face-to-face or virtually. You must deliver academic supervision in the chosen format for the duration of the project.

About employing the associate

AKTs are typically advertised on a full-time basis The Associate role will be supported through project costs of up to 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE), for the duration of the project. The Associate role can be delivered by a maximum of 2 people. The Associate role can be delivered virtually; however, applications should demonstrate how the project team will work and communicate effectively as a team.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK’s partner organisations (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 Innovate UK Business Connect , 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 our partner organisations 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 our partner organisations will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy

Innovate UK Business Connect 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.

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 UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK or any of our partners will not tolerate abusive language in any written or verbal correspondence, applications, social media or any other form that might affect staff.

Need help with this service? Contact us