Funding competition Mid and North Wales Launchpad: Cluster Management

UK registered organisations can apply for up to £150,000 for a project to develop and manage the agri-tech and food technology innovation cluster in Mid and North Wales.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £150,000 into one innovation project. The funding was announced by UK Government in the Spring Budget 2024.

The aim of this competition is to support a cluster management project for the agri-tech and food technology cluster in Mid and North Wales. Your proposal must describe how you will develop and manage this emergent innovation cluster.

Your proposal must demonstrate how you will manage your project for maximum impact in the innovation cluster.

The funding will support operational costs for up to 24 months, allowing the innovation cluster to become more impactful as part of Innovate UK's Launchpad programme.

After the grant support has ended, you must demonstrate how you will use operational investment from your own means to continue developing the innovation cluster.

This Launchpad competition supports the government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

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.

Innovate UK manages many competitions, and each will have different eligibility and scope requirements. The guidance in this competition brief will always supersede any other guidance. If you are unsure or have any questions, please contact our Customer Support Service who will assist you further.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total grant funding request can be up to £150,000.

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 funded project must:

  • have a total grant funding request up to £150,000
  • last up to 24 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK, and have its impact in the innovation cluster you select
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start at the earliest on 1 December 2024
  • end by 31 March 2027

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 or work alone your organisation must:

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

Project 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)

The contribution of project partners must add to the innovation led growth of the cluster.

Each 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 and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

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

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

Your organisation can only lead on one application with a cluster management project for each individual Launchpad cluster but can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications.

If you wish to apply with a cluster management project for more than one Launchpad cluster you must submit a separate application for each. There must be no interdependencies or duplicated costs between projects.

If your organisation is not leading an application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

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.

This award is classified as a Subsidy which does not form part of your Minimal Financial Assistance or De Minimis allowance.

Funding

Up to £150,000 has been allocated to this cluster management competition to fund a single project. 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.

The balance between your total project costs and the amount of grant awarded must be funded by the organisation receiving the grant.

You can 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 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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 100% of the 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 100% you can 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

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to support a cluster management project for the agri-tech and food technology Launchpad in Mid and North Wales. Your proposal must describe how you will develop and manage this emergent innovation cluster.

Your project must be inclusive and develop the maturity of the innovation cluster to benefit related organisations locally and UK wide.

You must explain how your project will complement and support the innovation cluster more widely, engaging where appropriate with other grant aided innovation projects.

You must include plans to:

  • share non-commercially sensitive results and good practice
  • encourage further innovation activities and investment to benefit the innovation cluster

Your proposal must demonstrate how it will develop:

  • activities that meet relevant industry needs and generate innovation led economic growth
  • an innovation cluster with greater innovation intensity, innovation maturity, and levels of collaboration, commercialisation, and investment
  • a locally led narrative that provides a clear external profile
  • an integrated community that can sustain beyond the grant funded period

Your project must:

  • use expertise relevant to the cluster’s location, specialisms, assets, organisations, and maturity stage
  • gain the support of relevant organisations who will contribute to developing the innovation cluster
  • demonstrate how you will use operational investment from your own means to continue developing the innovation cluster beyond the funded project

Specific themes

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

  • knowledge transfer to encourage the development of innovation and to speed its spread throughout the cluster and supply chains
  • strengthening local institutions and aligning around priority innovation programmes
  • enable cohort meetings with relevant organisations in your cluster and other regional innovation clusters
  • helping to secure private finance for businesses in the innovation cluster, including leverage for public investments
  • supply chain development, including the capacity to absorb knowledge and innovation, and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • producing case studies and promotional campaigns
  • integrating the activities of other relevant organisations
  • attracting people, businesses and investment into the innovation cluster

This list is not exhaustive. Where you can show your proposal fits within the scope of this competition you can focus on other themes.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • are fundamental research on innovation clusters
  • are requesting capital funding for a new facility or physical home for the innovation cluster management
  • are unrelated to the theme of the cluster as described in the Scope section
  • are unable to demonstrate the support of relevant organisations who will contribute to developing the innovation cluster, or demonstrate how this would be gained
  • request grant funding in excess of the £150,000 grant funding limit
  • have any interdependency or duplicated costs with another project application

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
10 June 2024
Competition opens
20 June 2024
Online briefing event: watch the recording
(Briefing slides are available to download from supporting information)
10 July 2024 11:00am
Competition closes
8 August 2024
Invite to interview
14 August 2024
Interview panel
20 August 2024
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

If you wish to apply with proposals for multiple cluster management projects, you must submit a separate application for each. There must be no interdependencies or duplicated costs between projects.

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
  • if collaborative, 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.

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).

Interviews

If your application passes the first stage of assessment, you may be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place either online or at a designated location. The date and time of your interview will be included in your invitation.

Before the interview and by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

Agree the list with your consortium. Up to three people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 10 minutes
  • have no more than 10 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to four A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams

Interview

After your presentation the panel will spend 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

After your interview

The panellists will individually score your application and these will be averaged for your overall interview score. This score will supersede the one you received from initial assessment unless stated otherwise in the competition brief. We will notify you whether you have been successful or not by email and you will receive feedback on your interview within a week of notification.

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.

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.

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 can 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 in supporting the innovation cluster you have selected. 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 any partners or 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. Project description

What will your Launchpad cluster management project focus on?

Explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • your cluster’s characteristics, for instance, the priority organisations, specialisms, sites, assets and infrastructures
  • your cluster’s resources, challenges, needs and opportunities, such as global target markets, business led innovation activities, or aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • your vision for the development of innovation in your cluster, with reference to past work or existing initiatives that support this vision
  • the baseline data you will source and use to assist in tracking progress and evidencing a successful project

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

Question 4. Approach

What approach will you take and where will your focus be?

Explain:

  • your approach to develop and manage the innovation cluster
  • your chosen priorities to focus on throughout the project stages
  • your plans for developing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • how you will continue to improve your approach through your understanding of the innovation cluster
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify the main work packages of your project, any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones and associated costs
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful project outcome
  • the operating model and management reporting lines
  • any critical work packages or main milestones (such as approvals required)
  • your plans to involve external parties outside your project team, which could include Innovate UK Business Connect, Innovate UK Business Growth, the Catapult Centres, and other research and technology organisations (RTOs) or research organisations
  • your plan for how you will use operational investment from your own means to continue developing the innovation cluster after the funded period

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

You must submit one appendix to support your answer. This must include a project plan or Gantt chart. It can also include diagrams and charts.

It must be a PDF, up to four 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 your 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 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
  • if your project is collaborative, the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

Your answer 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 four A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Cluster impacts

How will your project impact the innovation cluster, and how will this be demonstrated?

Describe:

  • the likely impact of your project on the activities of priority organisations in the innovation cluster, referred to by their names
  • the likely impact of your project on businesses within the innovation cluster, including micro, small, medium and large businesses
  • how you will measure your impact, and what methods you will use, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) or similar
  • how you will publicly evidence your impact

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Question 7. Risks

What are the main risks for this project and how will you reduce these?

Explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will reduce these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, decisions, 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

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. 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.

Question 8. Costs, value for money and added value

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer? What impact would this award have on your organisation and any partners involved?

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
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical 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
  • what other routes of investment you have already approached
  • what your project would look like without public funding

Your answer can be up to 600 words long.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

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.

Each partner 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.

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.

Background and further information

In considering the eligibility of your proposal you are encouraged to review:

Further information about the cluster will be provided in the online briefing event that will be available for you to view.

Separate to this competition, Innovate UK is making Launchpad grant awards for innovation projects led by businesses who are active, or growing their work activities, in the innovation cluster.

If you are successful in this cluster management competition, we will provide non-commercial information on those businesses and projects supported by the Launchpad. You will not gain a formal role in their projects.

We will brief you on our future plans for supporting the innovation cluster. Most importantly, this will be to support your project to help mobilise private sector investment into the cluster.

The requirement to have your impact in the innovation cluster supported by an Innovate UK Launchpad is to align this competition to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Further information on the range of innovation clusters supported by an Innovate UK Launchpad is available here.

For further guidance on your eligibility, you can contact Innovate UK by email.

Data sharing

This competition is operated by Innovate UK.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with our own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK’s 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.

Assessment

Your application will be reviewed by three 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:

Briefing slides

Briefing slides are available to download here.

Next steps

If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.

You will be notified by email on the date published for this competition. Notifications may be sent any time up to 5pm.

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
  • a collaboration agreement, if required
  • 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 GOL is approved on or before the fifteenth of the month it will be dated from the first of that month. If your GOL is approved after the fifteenth, it will be dated the first of the next month.

If your application was 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 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.

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