Funding competition UK and USA: innovation in global composites markets

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.7 million to develop innovative technologies for global composites markets with US partners.

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Competition sections

Description

Under the UK Research and Innovation Funding for International Collaboration (FIC) the UK and USA are running a joint grant funding competition.

The competition will focus on 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 UK organisations who can collaborate with existing US partners in the field of composites manufacturing.

US projects are being run by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and their industrial partners. These projects are already funded. Successful UK applicants are funded solely by UKRI FIC through Innovate UK.

This competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

UK-led projects can have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million with a maximum grant of up to £300,000 for UK applicants.

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

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

Projects must start by January 2020 and can last up to 18 months.

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of 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

To lead a project UK applicants must be one of the following, and involve the other as collaborator:

  • a UK business of any size
  • a UK research and technology organisation (RTO) or UK university

You must collaborate with a US project team (see specific themes section).

Project team

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding. Collaborations must contain a minimum of one UK business of any size and one academic organisation or RTO. Beyond these rules there is no limit on additional collaborators.

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 UK Research and Innovation FIC funding and the USA for IACMI funding.

UK applicants must contact the Knowledge Transfer Network to be put in touch with a US project team. They will then be put in contact with IACMI in order to establish a consortium. You must upload a draft International Collaboration Agreement (ready for signing) as an appendix to question 11 of your grant application.

Partners with no funding

Projects can include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

Multiple applications

Any one business, RTO or UK university can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

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

If an RTO or UK university is:

  • the lead on an application they must have at least 1 business collaborator
  • not the lead on any application, they can be a collaborator in up to 3 applications

Previous applications

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 applicants we have allocated up to £1.7 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. This is matched by an equivalent US contribution from IACMI to fund the US 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 business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one 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

Innovate UK and IACMI have developed a portfolio of composite manufacturing technology priority areas. These are relevant to the UK and the USA. IACMI has selected a number of existing projects that reflect this portfolio. UK organisations are invited to apply to collaborate with these projects.

Your project must show:

  • 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 US 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 the USA 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

Details of the projects you can collaborate with can be found on the KTN website and include:

  1. SMC Reinforced by Recycled or Textile Carbon Fibres (IACMI reference number 6.23)
  2. Development of Non-destructive Evaluation/Non-destructive Testing (NDE/NDT) Tools for High-Volume, High-Speed Inspection of CFRP Structures in Automotive Manufacturing (3.13)
  3. Development of Automotive Grade Carbon Fibre Composite Performance Standards to Reduce Costs and Drive Mainstream, High Volume Vehicle Production with CFRP (6.21)
  4. Low Cost Pultruded Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) Composites for Spar Caps (4.7)
  5. Tailored Fibre Placement for Complex Preforms (5.7)
  6. Closing the Loop on Automotive Carbon Fibre Prepreg Manufacturing Scrap (6.20)
  7. NanoStitch® Format and Function Optimisation for Multifunctional Composites (5.8)
  8. Hybrid Injection Moulding (Injection Overmoulding) for Structural Components (3.1.4.1)
  9. Prepregging with Textile Carbon Fibres (6.19)

Research categories

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.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • have entirely non-civilian applications
  • do not include eligible partners from both the UK and the USA
  • seek to develop solutions that cannot be deployed in composites manufacturing

29 May 2019
Competition opens
6 June 2019
Recording of briefing event.
21 August 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
11 October 2019
Applicants notified
18 October 2019
Feedback.

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

UK applicants must contact the Knowledge Transfer Network to register their interest before submitting the application. If you are eligible you will be put in contact with IACMI to establish a UK-US consortium.

The application and assessment of this competition is in 3 stages.

Stage 1

Click the green button above to start an application. You will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

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

You will be able to invite:

  • colleagues to make contributions
  • other organisations to collaborate with you

You must upload a draft International Collaboration Agreement as an appendix to question 11 as part of your project application. A template International Collaboration Agreement is available from the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Stage 2

UK applications are assessed by up to 5 independent UK assessors who are experts in the innovation area identified in your application.

Stage 3

A joint UK and US consensus panel made up of Innovate UK and IACMI will agree which projects to fund based on the assessors’ scores using a portfolio approach.

US IACMI and Innovate UK will jointly make the final decision on which projects to fund.

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

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application team

Invite colleagues to contribute to your application and other organisations to collaborate on your project.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. 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 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 could 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. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The UK assessors will score your answers to these questions. You will receive feedback from them for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 2. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or 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 sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any gaps in the team you will need to fill

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

Describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example, why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 6. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 7. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You can submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You can submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and the grant you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their contributions to the 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
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Question 11. International collaboration

Name the organisations that make up your international consortium. Specify the US project that you have established the consortium with.

Outline:

  • the role of each of the collaboration partners
  • the particular capabilities each partner brings to the collaboration
  • the project management approaches and tools you will use to manage the international collaboration

You must submit a draft International Collaboration Agreement as an appendix to this question. It must be a PDF. The font must be legible at 100% zoom. A template International Collaboration Agreement is available from the Knowledge Transfer Network.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic organisations must complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

UK applicants must contact the Knowledge Transfer Network. Eligible UK applicants will then be put in contact with IACMI in order to establish a UK-US consortium.

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

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