Funding competition Analysis for innovators round 3: mini projects

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £3 million to resolve productivity issues by working with the best scientists and research facilities.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Up to £3 million in small collaborative innovation projects will be invested by:

  • Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation
  • the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • the National Measurement Laboratory at LGC (formerly known as the Laboratory of the Government Chemist)
  • the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) and
  • the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

These projects will help UK companies solve analysis and measurement problems, to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

The aim of this competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with companies that have analysis or measurement problems. Your application must describe the problem and estimate the value to your company of solving it.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) stage.

Successful applicants at this EoI stage will be invited to consultations with relevant analysis for innovators (A4I) partners. These will focus on how to approach solving their problem. They will also work together to propose joint projects to develop solutions.

Successful stage 2 applications will be grant funded, through matched funding or de minimis, to work with the relevant funding partner organisations.

Funding type


Project size

Stage 2 projects could be funded up to £200,000, but we expect most to be funded under de minimis at a value of up to £50,000. Inital discussions will be held Sept 2018. Projects must start by January 2019, end by 31 March 2019 and last up to 3 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for consultancy and funding options for follow-on projects you must:

  • be a UK based business
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK

Successful EoI applicants will be funded to have initial consultancy sessions with the 4 funding partner organisations. Those partner organisations will work with you on proposals for stage 2 projects.

Applicants must be a single company with no partners. However, this does not rule out companies that are part of a large conglomerate. If you are successful, the 4 funding organisations will assign appropriate partners.

Any one business can apply up to 3 times to this round of the analysis for innovators competition. Each application must focus on a different problem.


If Innovate UK judges that your submission is not materially different from any previous analysis for innovators 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. This can be 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.


Innovate UK and the 4 A4I funding partners have allocated up to £3 million to fund consultancy and follow up innovation projects in this competition.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help businesses address their existing analysis and measurement problems. These are problems that are best explored by scientists and cutting-edge facilities available in the UK.

You must outline what you consider to be the benefits of solving your problem, such as improved productivity or competitiveness.

We will only consider problems that:

  • are related to the measurement or analysis of some quantities or properties of an existing process, product or service
  • are not effectively solvable by simple ‘off the shelf’ methods or techniques

Do not propose how the problem should be solved, but instead outline any methods and attempts that you have previously tried to address the problem.

Analysis problems cannot be simply software related, for example pure data analysis.

We are looking to address a portfolio of problem types, across a variety of technologies, markets and sectors.

Problems we will not address

We will not consider problems that:

  • are not measurement or analysis problems
  • we consider to be resolvable with easily available methods, such as those that do not require any innovative or cutting-edge science or facilities
  • are solely computer software analysis problems, such as algorithms to analyse objects
  • are not related to a company’s existing processes, products or services

22 August 2018
Competition opens
3 September 2018
London briefing event. Register
3 September 2018
Online briefing event. Register
6 September 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
14 September 2018 3:37pm
Applicants notified
17 September 2018
Invite to consultancy sessions
24 September 2018
Full competition opens
10 October 2018
Full competition closes
9 November 2018
Full competition applicants notified
1 January 2019
Projects start from
31 March 2019
Projects end by

Before you start

When you start an application you will be asked to create an account or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

You will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation if your application is successful

You will be able to invite colleagues to contribute to the application.

If helpful to your application you can upload an optional video, up to 3 minutes long, demonstrating the problem you would like help with. The video must be uploaded to before the EoI close date. We recommend you password-protect your video.

Assessment and consultancy sessions

After the EoI competition deadline, your application and video will be assessed as follows:

  • Innovate UK will check your organisation’s eligibility
  • Innovate UK will assess whether your application is a measurement or analysis problem (in scope) or not (out of scope)
  • an independent panel of experts will assess whether the problem is solvable using easily available off-the-shelf methods and techniques (out of scope) or whether it requires cutting-edge scientific expertise and facilities (in scope)
  • expert scientists from the 4 A4I partner funding organisations will assess whether they have a potential approach to solving your problem

All assessments will be done in confidence.

Unsuccessful applicants will receive feedback explaining why their problem was not selected.

If your application is successful at this first application stage you will be invited to attend sessions with one or more A4I funding organisations. The invitations will be issued by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

KTN will arrange the initial confidential consultancy sessions between successful applicants and scientists from relevant A4I funding organisations. Follow-on sessions will include working on any joint project proposals to submit to stage 2 of this competition.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Application details
  2. Application questions

1. Application details

Explain what your company does and how the problem you will outline is important to the company. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether your problem fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

Give your application a title which refers to the problem being addressed.

Enter a project duration of 3 months. This is a standard field in the application process so you are required to enter something but we will ignore the duration in the EoI stage of this competition.

Company summary

Describe your company briefly, and be clear about why the problem is of importance. You should include any context about the process, product or service that the problem relates to.

Problem scope

Describe how your problem fits the scope of the competition. If your problem is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

2. Application questions

Your answers to these questions will be evaluated by experts to determine if they can offer any approaches to solving your problem.

Your answer to questions 1 to 3 can be up to 400 words long. Your answer to question 4 can be up to 50 words long.

Question 1: problem

What is the measurement or analysis problem that you need to solve?


  • what the core of the problem is
  • what your major challenges are in understanding this problem
  • any important aspects of the problem that you were unable to show in the video submission, if submitting one

Question 2: previous attempts to solve the problem

What methods or techniques have you previously tried to solve the problem?

Describe or explain:

  • what you did to understand or address the problem
  • what success or otherwise you had when trying to address the problem

Question 3: value to your business of solving the problem

What difference will it make to your business if you can solve this problem?

Describe or explain:

  • what you estimate the value of the benefit to be (in £) if this problem is solved
  • how you arrived at this estimate
  • what components contribute to this benefit estimate in terms of productivity and competitiveness gains, such as savings in waste, higher quality products or services, or increased sales or market share

We want to balance helping the most businesses with making the most impact with the money available. Assessors are looking for realistic values here, not necessarily the biggest numbers.

Question 4: link and password to access your video

If you are uploading a video to support your application, please carefully paste in the URL of the Vimeo video you have made to describe or show your problem. Carefully type the password required to access the video (specifying case-sensitive characters accurately).

Your video:

  • can be up to 3 minutes long
  • must be uploaded to Vimeo before the EoI close deadline of the competition
  • should ideally be on a password-protected page
  • must be in one of the formats permitted by Vimeo
  • need not be a high quality, costly production, but must help the expert assessors see whether they can offer a solution to your problem
  • will be considered together with the answer you give to question 1, so if there are things you want to keep confidential, instead include them in your answer there

Make sure your video is accessible (with the specified credentials) and playable before you complete your submission. If it is not, it will not be used in the assessment of your application.

If you are not uploading a video, please type “n/a" in this field and ensure that your answers to questions 1 to 3 fully explain the problem you are trying to solve.

Background and further information

Analysis for Innovators (A4I) is a very different type of programme from Innovate UK’s usual grant funding competitions. It is focused on helping individual companies solve tricky and perhaps long running technical problems affecting existing processes, products or services.

The programme’s aim is to help boost a company’s productivity or competitiveness. It achieves this by bringing the UK’s top scientists and facilities, often otherwise inaccessible, together with companies to address problems in innovative ways.

The A4I programme has run successfully twice before in 2016 and 2017. This third round of the programme builds upon that experience. It focuses on brokering successful relationships between UK companies and the UK’s National Measurement Institutes and grant-funding small follow-on projects to address the problems raised.

If you want help with this competition, email at the Knowledge Transfer Network in the first instance.

If you need additional information, email Innovate UK at

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