Funding competition Analysis for innovators round 4 expression of interest

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £4 million to work with the best scientists and research facilities to resolve productivity and competitiveness issues.

This competition has not yet opened.

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Competition sections

Description

Up to £4 million in 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
  • 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) competition.

Successful applicants at this EoI phase will be invited to brokerage sessions with relevant analysis for innovators (A4I) partners. These will focus on how to approach solving the applicant’s problem. If the applicant and A4I partners agree an approach, they will work together to suggest joint projects to develop solutions.

Successful phase 2 applications will be grant funded through matched funding to work with the relevant A4I funding partners.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Phase 2 projects can have up to £300,000 total eligible project costs. We expect most projects to have total eligible costs of up to £120,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

To be eligible for funding 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

Initial discussions will be held in May 2019. Follow-on projects will start September 2019 and last up to 12 months.

Successful EoI applicants will be eligible to have initial brokerage sessions with one or more of the 4 funding partner organisations. If a potential solution exists within one or more of the partner organisations, they will work with you on proposals for phase 2 projects.

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

Any one business can submit a maximum of 2 different problems to this round of the analysis for innovators competition.

Resubmissions

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 you have undertaken a project in more than one A4I competition round previously, with any problem, you are ineligible to apply to this EoI.

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.

Funding

Innovate UK and the 4 A4I funding partners have allocated up to £4 million. This is to fund the brokerage time of relevant scientists for successful applicants at this EoI phase, and any collaborative projects match-funded at phase 2 of this competition.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help businesses address their existing analysis and measurement problems. For example, analysing why a certain percentage defect rate is occurring within an existing production process. 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.

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 not related to a company’s existing processes, products or services
  • relate to the development of a new product, software application or service

29 January 2019
Oxford information event
31 January 2019
Bristol information event
4 February 2019
Teddington information event
5 February 2019
Wales information event
7 February 2019
Glasgow information event
12 February 2019
Belfast information event
15 February 2019
Huddersfield information event
25 February 2019
Phase 1 open date
25 February 2019
Competition opens
27 February 2019
London briefing event
20 March 2019
Midday phase 1 closing date for problem submissions
20 March 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
9 April 2019
Applicants notified
9 April 2019
Applicants notified
10 April 2019
Invite to brokerage sessions
15 April 2019
Phase 2 ppen date for project proposals
5 June 2019
Midday phase 2 close date for project proposals
5 July 2019
Applicants notified
2 September 2019
Earliest project start date
28 August 2020
Latest project end date

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

You must upload a video, up to 3 minutes long, demonstrating the problem you would like help with. The video must be uploaded to Vimeo.com before the phase 1 close date. We recommend you password-protect your video.

Assessment and brokerage 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 in scope or not
  • 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 phase you will be invited to attend sessions with one or more A4I partner organisations. The invitations will be issued by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

KTN will arrange the initial confidential brokerage sessions between successful applicants and scientists from relevant A4I funding partner organisations. Follow-on sessions will include working on any joint project proposals to submit to phase 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 zero 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 phase 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?

Summarise:

  • 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

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

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 close deadline of this EoI 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.

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 3 times before in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This fourth round of the programme builds upon that experience. It focuses on scaling up both:

  • the number of successful relationships brokered between UK companies and the UK’s National Measurement Institutes
  • and the grant-funding of follow-on projects addressing the problems raised

If you want help with this competition, email nigel.rix@ktn-uk.org at the Knowledge Transfer Network in the first instance.

If you need additional information, email Innovate UK at support@innovateuk.ukri.org.

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