Funding competition UK Research and Innovation strength in places fund: wave 2 EoI

Consortia of UK businesses and research organisations can apply for ‘seed corn’ funding of up to £50,000 to develop full applications for wave 2 of the UKRI Strength in Places Fund.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Consortia of UK businesses and publicly funded research organisations can apply for between £10 million and £50 million per full stage application.

Your application must build on your partners’ existing research and innovation capability and present a valid plan of new research and innovation activities. These must have a clear pathway to delivering a significant positive impact on economic growth within the defined economic geography.

All project partners should be based in the project’s geographical area and have the support of local civic leadership.

Projects must be led by either a UK based business or a UK publicly funded research organisation.This first competition stage is an expression of interest (EoI). Consortia will set out plans for large collaborative proposals. Following assessment, successful EoIs will be selected to receive up to £50,000 in ‘seed corn’ funding to develop a full stage proposal.

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

Funding type


Project size

Consortia can apply for up to £50,000 seed corn funding in this stage. Your full stage project’s total eligible costs must be between £10 million and £50 million.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid, and be compliant with the relevant state aid regulations. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Your full stage project’s total eligible costs must be between £10 million and £50 million.

Applications for full phase projects are anticipated to open in July 2020 and close in December 2020. We will confirm the start date and duration for full phase applications closer to the time.

Lead applicant

To lead a project your organisation must be:

  • a UK based publicly funded research organisation (university, research institute, public sector research establishment, research council institute, Catapult or other research and technology organisation (RTO))
  • or a UK based business of any size

Your project must be collaborative and include at least one business and at least one research organisation in the consortium. All collaboration partners must be invited on to the application.

The lead organisation must demonstrate ability and experience in running large-scale research and innovation grant awards.

Successful projects will be subject to additional SIPF terms and conditions for this competition.

Terms and conditions

You must read the terms and conditions set by UK Research and Innovation for this competition. These will be sent to you if your application is successful and you must agree to them before you are allocated funding. These were added on 16 August 2019.

Project team

Consortium members’ costs will count towards the total project costs. They can provide co-investment to support the project but cannot lead the project, or receive direct support from UK Research and Innovation. All funding will be channelled through the lead organisation. Only research organisations and businesses are eligible to draw down funding from UK Research and Innovation.

We expect all partners to be located within the project’s geographical area, including those covering multiple local authority or devolved administration areas. If you have partners outside the defined area the lead applicant must email the Strength In Places delivery team at as soon as possible during the application period or risk being considered ineligible.

To be a member of a consortium you must be:

  • a UK business of any size
  • a UK research organisation
  • or a non-grant claiming partner representing local civic leadership such as local enterprise partnerships, combined authorities, enterprise bodies or similar economic agencies from across the 4 nations of the UK

If you plan to use subcontractors, explain how they will be used and the costs of each.

Previous applications


Proposals that were unsuccessful in the wave 1 expression of interest are eligible for resubmission in this EoI. You must:

  • have acted on all feedback
  • declare that your proposal is a resubmission


Consortia are invited to express an interest in submitting a full stage project to be funded between £10 million and £50 million.

We expect full stage projects requesting funding at the higher end of the scale to be exceptions. Your application must display a suitably large economic impact.

The lead organisation must allocate funds to partners in line with a collaboration agreement.

Consortia must be prepared at full stage to describe how all activities are in line with state aid rules. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid. We are not authorised to provide advice on state aid, if you are unsure please take legal advice.

At the EoI phase, if the lead organisation is a non-profit distributing research organisation it will be eligible for up to 100% of the £50,000 seedcorn award.

Research organisations engaged in economic activity as part of the project will be treated as business enterprises for the purposes of funding.

You should make sure that your approach to costing your proposal is clear and transparent. Research organisations should follow the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) principles. Proposals do not have to be costed on the basis of any stated full economic costing (FEC) rate or percentage of that. In determining the costing approach used, organisations should consider the financial sustainability of the activities being undertaken.

Your proposal

Projects must focus on any one technological area, sector or discipline. At full stage your proposal can draw on a mix of capital and revenue funding appropriate to the activities proposed.

Your project proposal should take a place-based approach to research and innovation funding. It must describe the business need that can be met by existing research strengths in your defined geographic area. Successful projects will undertake a range of research and innovation activities which must demonstrate a way to grow economic ‘clusters’ that support local economic growth.

You must outline the activities you will undertake within a full stage project proposal if successful. These can include, where appropriate:

  • scale
  • nature of partnerships
  • co-investment

The fund will support geographic areas within the UK. These range from city-scale to areas that cover multiple local authorities, as well as those crossing regional and/or country boundaries. The size and scope of the area must match the economic geography of the supply chain or local industry that the proposal focuses on. You must give evidence to justify the choice of area. This geographical area should also reflect the range and choice of partners involved in the collaboration.

We will only fund projects based on:

  • existing research excellence and high-quality innovation capability that focus on creating opportunities for economic growth, in line with the needs of local industry
  • activities that bring significant economic impact and regional growth, relative to the baseline economic activity for the defined or relevant geographic area

In scope activities for full proposals include:

  • providing the capacity to commercialise ideas (such as research outputs)
  • assessing the potential for demand for the new technology and the potential for scale up
  • drawing in overseas research and development or business
  • reviving underlying technologies
  • transferring technologies between industries

The final number and size or mix of projects supported will be determined through the assessment process. UKRI reserves the right to take a portfolio approach to achieve a balanced portfolio of investments that recognises business needs.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that cover:

  • new national infrastructure that would be supported through other UK Research and Innovation programmes, such as new Catapult centres
  • regional activity that recreates existing national programmes at regional level, and therefore duplicates funding through other UK Research and Innovation programmes, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF)
  • outreach programmes which aim to transfer local expertise to other regions outside of the consortium’s geography

3 June 2019
Competition opens
20 June 2019
Briefing events.
9 October 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
6 July 2020
Expected full stage open date
10 July 2020 1:13pm
Applicants notified
9 December 2020
Expected full stage close date

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

Full stage questions

These are the areas that will need to be answered as part of the application at full stage. Read these to help you plan the activities you will carry out during the seed corn-supported development phase.

  1. Project purpose: the challenges addressed, overall aims and objectives, risk of missed opportunity if it does not proceed, reasons for the economic geography selected, wider challenges influencing the opportunity you are addressing, and alignment to strategic plans of stakeholders and others in your selected economic geography.
  2. Focus of the research and innovation activity: building on established research excellence, building on strengths of the industry and chosen geography, and justification of the choice of consortium partners.
  3. Market awareness: structure and dynamics of target markets, market opportunities, growth potential, intellectual property, and comparison to competitors.
  4. Local economic impact: intended uplift in growth and/or productivity, importance of the consortium to the local economy, broader societal and environmental impacts, any local or national policy impacts, and public engagement.
  5. Evaluating impact: key performance indicators.
  6. Project management: team integration between project partners and other stakeholders, plans for delivery of self-sustaining initiative beyond the end of the funding period, key milestones or deliverables, and plans for state aid compliance.
  7. Project team: roles, affiliation, skills and experience of project team members, external parties involved, relationships between project partners and how these will change.
  8. Project governance: governance structure, communications with important stakeholders, and commitments and responsibilities of each partner.
  9. Value added by UKRI funding: why this funding is crucial, how it will enable the project to proceed, co-funding leveraged from partners, and related funding awards sought or received.
  10. Risks: analysis of risks and mitigation approaches, project management tools to minimise operational risk, legal agreements or consents needed, and intellectual property management.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Application details.
  2. Application questions.

All application questions are mandatory. Where a template is provided you must use it. Your application must include all attachments listed below, and in the specified format, or it will not be sent for assessment.

  • research excellence: supporting evidence. Question 1. Up to 2 sides A4
  • market awareness: diagrams, tables and charts. Question 2. Up to 1 side A4
  • logic model diagram and map of the project geography. Question 4. Up to 3 sides A4 in total: up to 2 sides for logic model diagram and 1 side for map
  • financial information spreadsheet. Question 6
  • risk register. Question 7. Up to 1 side A4

The font used when completing attachments must be legible at 100% zoom. Files must not be converted, encrypted or zipped. Excluding the spreadsheet, you must submit all attachments in PDF format.

1. Project details

This section sets the scene for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. State whether the application is a resubmission.

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.


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

Your answers to these expression of interest questions will be scored by the assessors. You will receive feedback for each question.

Question 1: Research excellence and innovation capability (up to 600 words)

What is the focus of the research and innovation activity that will drive your regional consortium?

Against the technological, sector or discipline focus in your chosen location:

  • summarise the evidence that your proposed research builds on established research excellence
  • show how you will increase sustainable research with local economic impacts
  • show the area has a relevant critical mass of activities compared to other parts of the country
  • summarise the evidence on the critical mass of businesses actively engaged in research and innovation
  • describe how these research organisations and businesses currently collaborate and share knowledge within the consortium
  • summarise how your consortium fits the strategic local economic plans for the chosen geography and its importance to the local economy
  • outline the main factors you need to overcome to let this research and innovation consortium grow and develop to the next level

In a separate appendix you can submit in PDF format up to 2 pages of supporting evidence. This must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 2: Market awareness (up to 800 words)

Describe the structure and dynamics of the target markets, both national and international, including customer segmentation and predicted growth rates within clear timeframes.

In your economic geography, describe the national and global markets that industrial supply chains within this consortium compete in. Include examples of new and improved products, services and processes that create growth.

Consider the following questions in your answer:

  • what are the market opportunities your project is aiming to develop?
  • what is the growth potential of this market?
  • what is the estimated current market share held by this consortium and what are its ambitions for growth?
  • what portfolio of intellectual property relates to this proposal?
  • what is the comparative advantage of this consortium to others in the UK and globally?

In a separate appendix you can submit in PDF format up to 1 page of supporting diagrams, charts and tables. This must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3: Activities requested for seed corn support (up to 400 words)

What activities will you undertake if your EoI receives seed corn funding to be developed into a full project proposal?

State how your project activities will deliver against the challenges you have identified in your selected economic geography. Indicate the main milestones and gateways, and the roles of different partners in the activities. Please cross-reference these activities to the details set out in the financial information attachment (spreadsheet) which you can download as part of question 6.

Question 4: Local economic impact (up to 600 words)

What is the intended significant, relative uplift in growth and/or productivity as a result of the activities proposed? Consider the following questions in your answer:

  • what is the importance of this consortium to the local economy?
  • what broader societal and environmental impact will the project bring to the chosen geography, including impacts on areas such as quality of life, diversity, education, social inclusion and health?
  • might your project affect local or national policy?
  • how does the design of your project include appropriate engagement with relevant publics?

You must submit a logic model diagram (PDF and up to 2 pages long) for your project with 5 headings: inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts to support your answer. As an additional page on the same attachment include a map of the project geography, indicating the locations of the main partners. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5: Consortium composition and project team (up to 400 words)

Does the consortium have the right skills, experience and existing relevant facilities to deliver the identified benefits?

Detail the track record of the partner organisations in delivering successful research innovation and knowledge exchange and exploiting the results.

In evaluating this, the assessors will consider whether:

  • the project team has available the right mix of skills and experience to complete the project successfully
  • the project team’s formation objectives are clear,
  • whether the team would have been formed without UK Research and Innovation’s investment
  • there is additional benefit demonstrated as a result of the collaboration, for example, increased knowledge transfer
  • the organisations working together will achieve more than if they were working individually
  • the organisations have the necessary resources to focus on the programme
  • you have considered diversity and inclusion in your project proposal

Question 6: UK Research and Innovation funding commitment and project finances (up to 500 words)

How does funding from UK Research and Innovation add value?

In your answer explain:

  • why this project could not take place without government financial support
  • why you need the specific amount of funding requested, and why not more or less
  • how the funding required enables the project to proceed quickly and at scale

The lead organisation must complete the financial information spreadsheet template provided and attach it as a separate appendix. This must be in a spreadsheet format. If you would like this spreadsheet to be provided as an open source document, please contact us and we will provide this.

In the financial information spreadsheet, you will be asked to complete:

  • a detailed budget (income and costs) for the seed corn-funded proposal development
  • an indicative budget (income and costs) and projected payment profile for the full project proposal
  • the grant split and contribution from each of the consortium members, explaining how they anticipate they will comply with state aid rules
  • a breakdown of the indicative full project costs by work package

In evaluating this the assessors will consider whether:

  • the detailed budget for the seed corn-funded proposal is reasonable for the activities proposed
  • the indicative financial information for the full project proposal is realistic for the scale and complexity of the project

The lead and partner organisations may be asked for additional financial information relating to their proposal or organisation. This could be about the project or specific to individual organisations. The requirement for additional financial information will vary across applications. It will be dependent upon the nature of the proposal and the consortium’s specific argument for support.

Please upload your spreadsheet as an appendix to this question.

Question 7: Risks

In a separate appendix provide a risk register table in your chosen style.

This must identify the main risks to the project (up to a maximum of 10), indicating how they will be mitigated and the probability versus the impact.

The attachment must be no more than 1 page A4 and supplied in PDF format. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Enter ‘Risk register uploaded’ as the answer to your question.

Background and further information

The UKRI Strength in Places Fund Wave 2 EoI application process is being run through the Innovate UK Innovation Funding Service. If you have not used this service before you will need to register an account on the service.

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
  • completing and uploading the financial costing attachment (showing all costs from all consortium partners)
  • notifying the consortium of any decisions or notifications communicated to you

The SIPF programme overview document can be found on the UK Research and Innovation website.

Extra help

If you have any questions on any aspect of the UK Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund, please contact

If you need more information about IFS and how to apply, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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