Funding competition UK and Canada: enhancing industrial productivity

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £5 million to develop innovative technologies targeting global markets with Canadian partners.

Register and apply online

Competition sections

Description

The UK and Canada are running a joint grant funding competition under the EUREKA framework. This will support collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects, which should result in a new product, industrial process or service. Projects must be innovative, involve a technological risk and target large global markets.

We welcome proposals from advanced manufacturing businesses, food and drink processers, and automation and artificial intelligence (AI) innovators, including those applying ‘AI for design’ techniques.

The national funding agencies will fund their respective participants in the projects. Contact your agency for further guidance:

  • for UK applicants this is Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation: support@innovateuk.ukri.org
  • for Canadian applicants this is the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) International Office or Conseil National de Recherches Canada Bureau International Programme d'Aide à la Recherche Industrielle (CNRC PARI): IRAP.International.PARI@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

This competition closes at 5pm UK time (which is 9am Pacific Daylight Time and midday 12pm Eastern Daylight Time) on the date of the deadline.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

UK-led projects can have total eligible project costs of up to £1 million with a maximum grant of up to £200,000 for UK applicants and a maximum grant of up to $300,000 CAD for Canadian applicants.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.

Your project

UK-led projects can have total eligible project costs of up to £1 million with a maximum grant of £200,000 to be shared between the UK applicants and a maximum grant of up to $300,000 CAD to be shared between the Canadian applicants.

Your project must start by 1 October 2019 and can last up to 2 years.

If your project’s total costs or duration fall outside our eligibility criteria you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead applicant

You must focus on one of 2 themes. See the competition scope for more information.

Theme 1

To lead a project in theme 1, enabling technologies, you must be one of the following, and involve the other 3 as collaborators:

  • a UK micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) with fewer than 250 employees
  • a UK research and technology organization (RTO) or UK university (Text update 15 February 2019: we have added the words "or UK university" as these are also eligible to lead in theme 1.)
  • a researcher from the National Research Council of Canada
  • a Canadian business with fewer than 500 employees, RTO or academic research organisation

Theme 2

To lead a project in theme 2, enhanced productivity, you must be one of the following, and involve the other as a collaborator:

  • a UK SME with fewer than 250 employees
  • a Canadian SME with fewer than 500 employees

Collaborations under theme 1 or 2 can also include additional UK registered businesses of any size or UK universities.

Your organisation cannot work alone.

We welcome proposals from advanced manufacturing businesses, food and drink processers, and automation and artificial intelligence (AI) innovators, including those applying ‘AI for design’ techniques.

Collaborations

In theme 1, the lead and at least 3 collaborators must claim funding.

In theme 2, the lead partner and at least one other SME collaborator must claim funding.

All Canadian lead applicants and collaborators must submit an expression of interest application and be selected by the NRC as eligible to progress in this competition. This is detailed in the ‘How to apply’ section. Successful Canadian applicants can then submit a full application with their UK partners.

The Canadian partner or partners must be separate, non-linked legal entities from the UK partners.

For UK partners subcontracting is allowed for up to 20% of the UK total project costs.

Each partner must carry out the majority of their funded work within the country from which they receive funding. That is the UK for Innovate UK and Canada for NRC IRAP funding.

Partners with no funding

Projects can include partners that do not receive any funding. These can be from anywhere in the world, including from EUREKA member states if justified by the proposal and included in the collaboration agreement. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

For organisations from other EUREKA member states to take part:

  • your project must meet the minimum participation levels for UK and Canada organisations
  • they must have secured funding from elsewhere

Multiple applications

Any one UK SME or RTO can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications. (Text update 12 February 2019: we have changed the word "business" in this sentence to "SME" to remove any potential for confusion. SMEs are the only kind of business that can lead.)

If a UK business is not leading an application, they can be a collaborator in up to 3 applications.

If a UK RTO is:

  • the lead on an application they must have 2 business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size)
  • not the lead on any application, they can be a collaborator in any number of applications

A UK academic institution can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

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

We will accept resubmissions in this competition.

If we decide not to fund your proposal, you will be able to use it to apply once more.

Your resubmission can:

  • take into account the feedback received from the assessors
  • only be for one other competition

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, 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, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.

Funding

For UK participants we have allocated up to £5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. This is matched by an equivalent Canadian contribution which will fund the Canadian project partners.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small UK business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized UK business
  • up to 50% if you are a large UK business

For experimental development projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small UK business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized UK business
  • up to 25% if you are a large UK business

An approximate balance of contributions is expected between Canadian and UK partners and no more than 75% of the total eligible project costs can be awarded to any one country or any one partner.

The UK research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible UK project costs. If your consortium contains more than one UK research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25 of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

This competition provides innovation research and development (R&D) grant funding for projects aimed at enhancing industrial productivity. You must focus on one of these 2 themes:

  1. Enabling technologies.
  2. Enhanced productivity.

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses market potential and needs
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run the project successfully and complete on time
  • awareness of the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • good value for money
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • considerable potential to positively impact both the UK and the Canadian economy
  • the benefit to participants from the 2 countries working together

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories to build a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • target opportunities that benefit both the UK and Canadian economy and/or productivity in a positive way
  • demonstrate sufficient innovation, potential return on investment and degree of technical risk
  • demonstrate value for money, including the potential impact of the project relative to its cost, and the cost of other projects under consideration

Specific themes

Theme 1: enabling technologies

These are collaborative R&D projects to demonstrate artificial intelligence for design as applied to advanced manufacturing or food production. These projects must use AI to accelerate the design of materials, devices or processes.

Your project can cover:

  • AI for design
  • AI for supply chains
  • applying AI and vision systems

Theme 2: enhanced productivity

These are collaborative R&D projects addressing global competitiveness by improving or adding to products service or process delivery. This can include enabling technologies such as Internet of Things, blockchain and cybersecurity.

Enhanced productivity projects de-risk and integrate technologies into operationally ready pre-commercial solutions. These must address an identified business need in the area of advanced manufacturing and/or food production. While solutions that include AI or machine learning are welcome under this theme, this is not mandatory.

Project types

We will fund industrial research projects and experimental development projects. Please see the general guidance to help you decide which category your project fits in.

For theme 1 we expect to fund projects that address, for example:

  1. The use of machine learning and other AI techniques such as deep reinforcement learning, deep learning and active learning, to help designers invent new advanced materials, devices and complex systems. Projects would propose new AI-driven design tools or create improved designs for advanced manufacturing or food processing in less time, with faster simulations and overcoming human design bias.
  2. The application of AI to improve trust in manufacturing supply networks by tracking the provenance, safety and timeliness of delivery of parts and products.
  3. The integration into factory processes of AI-driven automated design or visual inspection for the non-destructive testing of parts.

For theme 2 we would consider the following:

Advanced manufacturing

This can include:

  • additive manufacturing processes, materials and machinery
  • AI, machine learning, robotics and IoT for manufacturing
  • advanced materials, composites design & manufacturing solutions
  • biorefinery including circular economy waste solutions
  • clean energy technologies for industrial applications
  • digital manufacturing or industry 4.0

Food quality and processing technologies for improved productivity

This can include:

  • enhancing nutritional value
  • novel ingredient development
  • sustainable protein development
  • food safety solutions
  • authenticity and traceability systems
  • processes for improved shelf life and reducing food waste
  • smart packaging
  • lean manufacturing or improved efficiency

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • have entirely non-civilian applications
  • do not include partners from both UK and Canada
  • seek to develop solutions that cannot be deployed in high value manufacturing settings, including in food production environments

7 February 2019
London brokerage event: food processing
8 February 2019
London brokerage event: food processing
11 February 2019
Competition opens
20 February 2019
Online briefing event
25 February 2019
Week starting Toronto brokerage event: advanced manufacturing an AI
15 March 2019
EoI deadline (Canada)
2 May 2019 12:00pm
Registration closes
9 May 2019 5:00pm
Competition closes
31 July 2019
Applicants notified

Before you start

There are 3 stages to the submission and assessment procedures.

This is a simplified description of the application process. Before you apply you must read the guidance for applicants for this competition.

All Canadian lead applicants and collaborators must submit an expression of interest application and be selected by the NRC as eligible to progress in this competition

Stage 1

The lead applicant must download and complete the EUREKA project application form on behalf of their consortium.

It must be submitted by 5pm UK time (which is 9am Pacific Daylight Time and midday 12pm Eastern Daylight Time) on the date of the deadline to Innovate UK through our secure FTP site, along with the supporting documentation listed in the guidance for applicants.

To access the secure FTP site, register by clicking the green button above.

Competition managers from Innovate UK and NRC will check applications are eligible and in scope.

Stage 2

Applications are assessed by up to 5 external assessors who are experts in the innovation area identified in your application. They will also be assessed by independent assessors in Canada.

Stage 3

A joint UK and Canada consensus panel made up of Innovate UK and NRC evaluators will agree which projects to fund based on the assessors’ scores. The EUREKA Network will decide which of the successful projects are put forward for a EUREKA label.

NRC Canada and Innovate UK will jointly make the final decision on which projects to fund.

The lead applicant will be notified of the funding decision. All assessed applications will receive assessor feedback.

Background and further information

EUREKA is an intergovernmental network launched in 1985. Its aim is to support market-oriented R&D and innovation projects by industry, research centres and universities across all technological sectors. It is composed of 41 member states, including the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and 3 associated states:

  • Canada
  • South Africa
  • Chile

There is also a partner country, South Korea.

(Text update 12 February 2019: we have changed the list of countries above to add Chile to the associated states and describe South Korea as a partner country rather than an associated state.)

With its flexible and decentralised network, EUREKA offers project partners:

  • rapid access to skills and expertise across Europe
  • national public and private funding schemes

The joint UK-Canada call for proposals is an initiative between Innovate UK and NRC which results from the 2017 MOU on Science, Technology and Innovation between the 2 countries.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network or the Enterprise Europe Network.

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

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