Independent assessors will score your answers to these questions. You will receive feedback from them for each question.
Do not include any URLs in your answers. Your answer to each question can be up to 600 words long.
Question 1. Barriers and opportunities
What barriers and/or opportunities will you address for technology and/or business practice adoption in SMEs?
Describe or explain:
- which barriers your project will focus on, such as knowledge, awareness, capability, skills or implementation
- why you have chosen this focus area and how it is relevant
- what evidence there is to justify your focus areas? Include any supporting information, which can draw on other research, or your own information, which must be clearly sourced or evidenced
- whether you will be focusing on the adoption of existing technology (for example accountancy software or cloud-based computing), management practices (such as key performance indicators or employee engagement) or a combination of these. Outline the evidence of the link between your chosen focus and productivity
- which stage of the technology or management practice adoption process the project is tackling; for example, increasing awareness, changing attitudes, increasing ability to introduce change, adopting and/or implementing
- who your target audience of SMEs is, including sector, size and geographical location
- why this target audience is relevant and how it will be affected if the barrier is removed
Question 2. Solution and approach
What is your idea for addressing these barriers and/or taking these opportunities, and why do you think it will be successful?
- what approaches or solutions you are proposing to overcome the barriers or take the opportunities you have set out in question 1
- what your reasons are for this approach
- what existing evidence supports your approach and why it will work
- what work you have done to develop and test your idea and what further work is needed to develop your approach or approaches
- how this aligns with your existing strategy and activity, and whether it represents a new programme, or an addition or change to an existing one
- how your proposal represents innovation in this area
- how it will add to the overall evidence base of what works in improving SME productivity
Question 3. Impact evaluation
How will you evaluate the impact of your proof of concept idea or ideas and determine whether it was successful?
- your research questions and rationale for the project, such as any existing research, logic model or theory of change
- what techniques you will use to generate and capture evidence in your project and at what stage in the project this will be done, such as desk research, stakeholder engagement, qualitative feedback, prototyping or small scale testing
- what scale of engagement and testing you intend to carry out, such as number of interviews or focus groups, number of survey respondents or SME participants
- the success criteria for your proposal, and how will you determine that these have been met
- the deliverables you will produce (such as a final evaluation report or protocol for future trial and data), and how the findings could be used to develop a full trial
You can submit a single appendix as a PDF up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 4. Scaling up your proof of concept
Set out how the proof of concept could be scaled up in the future e.g. to a larger scale trial, commercial roll out?
- how the proof of concept will help achieve scaling up your idea
- what are your expectations for how to scale up your proof of concept e.g. larger number of SMEs, more regions, other sectors
- how the evidence you create from the proof of concept will contribute to scaling up your idea, by yourself or others
- how will you decide whether the project can and should be scaled
- what could be the challenges to upscaling your proposal beyond the proof of concept
Question 5. Project delivery
How will you deliver your project successfully?
Describe or explain:
- who you will need to work with to deliver the project, including partners and stakeholders
- the process and timelines for recruiting the target group of SMEs to the study
Set out your project plan, including:
- the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
- the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the project, including the evaluation
- if your project is collaborative, the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
- any gaps in the team that will need to be filled
- delivery timelines and milestones
You can submit a single appendix as a PDF and up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 6. Risks
What are the main risks to the project and how will you manage or mitigate these? Please set out:
- the main risks to the successful implementation of the proposal including the technical, commercial, managerial risks,
- any legal or ethical considerations that need to be managed, such as GDPR
- any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, datasets
- challenges on evaluation for example, challenges to establishing causality and to the validity and reliability of the results or survey response rates and baseline data collection.
- how these risks will be mitigated
We recommend you set this out in a risk register. You can submit a single appendix as a PDF up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 7. Value for money
How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the taxpayer?
Describe or explain:
- the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
- the grant split and financial contribution from each of the project members, if relevant
- any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project
- the need for any marketing costs, which must be properly justified
- the basis for the costs and an explanation of how the costs were determined such as previous trials or day rates
- your estimate of the level of benefit for each individual SME, such as the nominal value or cost of support received (2 days of training)
- whether the SMEs will be expected to provide some form of contribution
- how this project represents value for money for the taxpayer and how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
- if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and, if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
Question 8. State Aid
Explain how the proposal will comply with state aid rules (see the funding section of the competition brief). This question is not scored, but if your answer is not satisfactory then your project may be ineligible for funding.
For each grant-claiming organisation involved in the delivery of your project (listed in your answer to question 5), briefly explain how they will comply with state aid funding rules.
Where it is intended that SMEs will take part in experiments and are therefore likely to receive advantage as an end beneficiary of the grant, the SME can only receive state aid up to the limit of their de minimis allowance. Explain the processes you intend to put in place to ensure compliance with de minimis rules in your project.