Funding competition Enabling data access in accountancy, insurance and legal services: Innovation Lab

Individuals can apply to join a workshop developing project proposals to enable increased access to data within the accountancy, insurance and legal sectors.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £3.5 million to develop responsible data access or sharing methods in the accountancy, insurance and legal services sectors. These will enable the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and data technologies.

Individuals can apply to take part in a 3-day residential Innovation Lab on behalf of their organisation. The Innovation Lab will run from 14 to 16 October 2019. The participants will work together to develop collaborative proposals for research and innovation projects.

After the Innovation Lab, the project consortia will have 4 weeks to finalise their proposals before submitting them for assessment.

Not participating in the workshop does not exclude organisations or individuals from joining collaborations formed during the workshop as partners. The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Any project you develop at the Innovation Lab can have a maximum grant of £1.15 million.

Who can apply


To apply to attend the Innovation Lab, you must:

  • commit to attending and staying overnight for all 3 days (2 nights) at the UK location, which will be announced in the next few weeks
  • show you are able to work collaboratively and have the relevant skills, expertise and experience to represent your organisation
  • describe the data, finances and other resources your organisation can commit
  • be nominated to act as a representative on behalf of your organisation
  • attend on behalf of a UK-based business, regulatory body, academic organisation, research and technology organisation (RTO) or charity
  • have the technical or sector expertise necessary to collaborate with other participants on developing solutions to the challenge

If you are chosen to attend the Innovation Lab, you will need to sign a confidentiality agreement and return it by 8 October 2019. This is to protect existing intellectual property (IP) and to allow full disclosure of expertise and capabilities at the Innovation Lab.

We are looking for a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds, bringing together people who would not normally work collectively. This will ensure equality, diversity and the inclusion of participants. We reserve the right to select participants in order to have a balanced representation at the event.

Your application to attend will be considered by an assessment panel, which will include an occupational psychologist. The panel will look for evidence that you have:

  • an open, engaging, flexible, imaginative and creative outlook
  • the ability to develop innovative ideas
  • the ability to work constructively with people from diverse disciplines
  • the stamina and enthusiasm needed to work with strangers intensively over 3 days away from home

If you face any challenges that would prevent you taking part in the Innovation Lab, such as caring responsibilities, please contact the Innovate UK Customer Support Service at to discuss your options.

Project team

Consortia created at the Innovation Lab will submit their project proposals through a later competition on the Innovation Funding Service.

To be eligible to submit a final project proposal after the Innovation Lab each of the organisations in your project team must:

The lead organisation must be a UK-based business or University and must have attended the Innovation Lab.

(24 July: we have added that Universities can lead based on feedback from recent briefing events.)

Your project must start by 1 April 2020 and be completed by 31 March 2021.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

We will not accept multiple applications for this phase of the competition.

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.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for the second phase of the competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you have submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation 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.


Innovate UK will pay your residential and subsistence costs for the Innovation Lab, excluding alcohol. You will pay your travel costs to and from the event. You will not be paid for Innovation Lab attendance or proposal development.

You can discuss other costs with Innovate UK and these will be considered on a case by case basis, for example childcare costs.

We have allocated up to £3.5 million to fund innovation projects developed based on Innovation Lab proposals. Each project can claim a maximum grant of £1.15 million. (24 July: This amount was previously £1.5 million but we are recommending applications are around or below £1.15 million.) Consortia are expected to contribute at least equal funding to the grant amount claimed.

Any research organisations collaborating as part of a consortium may share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to speed up the responsible adoption of AI and data technologies and solutions in the accountancy, insurance and legal sectors by enabling better access to data.

The process and activities within the Innovation Lab may be unconventional, challenging and unexpected. By submitting an application, you are agreeing to take part fully, enthusiastically and constructively.

Project proposals submitted after the Innovation Lab must focus on solutions that:

  • identify and develop a data access method to enable AI application for one or more of the 3 sectors
  • address incentives, opportunities and ongoing business models to ensure a sustainable data access approach
  • consider broader, non-technical aspects of data access methods, including ethics, bias and privacy

Your proposal must:

  • quantify how the solution can be exploited
  • address regulatory issues and constraints
We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects across the 3 sectors and varying technological maturities.

Specific themes

We are particularly encouraging applications that:

  • cover more than one of the 3 sectors
  • address sector wide needs
  • are from consortia that include all relevant stakeholders, for example regulators, users, service providers and technology providers
  • are multi-disciplinary and include social sciences as well as science and engineering

Research categories

After the Innovation Lab, we will fund business-led industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • fundamental research
  • feasibility studies

1 July 2019
Competition opens
2 July 2019
London briefing event.
2 July 2019
Briefing event recording.
10 July 2019
Manchester briefing event.
11 July 2019
Edinburgh briefing event.
4 September 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
4 October 2019 12:03pm
Applicants notified
14 October 2019
3 day Innovation Lab starts.

Before you start

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


If your phase 2 application is successful you will be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation.

Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides

List of attendees

Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 5 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation, exceptions to this must be agreed in advance with the Innovate UK competitions team. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 20 minutes
  • have no more than 20 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it.


After your presentation the panel will spend 30 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on your application form.

Interviews will take place in December 2019; exact details will be provided in the invitation email.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

1. Project details

Application details

You must complete this section. In the project title field, write ‘Innovation Lab’. In the start date enter 14 October 2019. In the duration enter 1 month.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Question 1. Background

Please outline your professional background and current job or position. Highlight 1 or 2 high points of your career.

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

Question 2. Subject knowledge

What do you believe are the main challenges, such as technology, incentives or business models, which will need to be overcome to make data access sustainable within the accounting, insurance and legal services sectors?

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

Question 3. Expertise and interests

How do you think your expertise and interests will help to achieve the transformative objectives of the event?

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

Question 4. Teamwork

What is your approach to teamwork? What do you regard as your strengths?

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 5. Communication skills

How would you explain your area of interest to individuals with different expertise from your own?

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 6. Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab is for individuals who can step outside their own area of expertise or interest, are positively driven, enjoy creative activity, can think innovatively with a willingness to collaborate and share ideas. It is an intensive setting requiring you to develop new approaches with individuals you may not know. What makes you suitable for this?

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

During the Innovation Lab, individuals will be forming consortia with other participants to develop project proposals for the second phase of the competition. However, some organisations may be attending as part of an existing consortium.

You must submit an appendix containing the following information:

  • a statement clarifying whether you are attending as part of an existing consortium
  • details of the other members of any existing consortium (if applicable)

You must upload an appendix as a PDF named ‘Consortium’. It must be no larger than 10MB and 1 page long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Benefits to you and your organisation

What do you and your organisation hope to gain from taking part in the Innovation Lab?

Please provide:

  • details of why you want to take part and what benefit you expect for your organisation
  • details of how you will get the necessary authority to commit your organisation to a project
  • a statement of the financial or other resource your organisation is willing to commit to a successful project, including providing appropriate specialised facilities if you have them

Your answer can be up to 300 words long.

Question 8. Data sets

What data sets will your organisation be willing to share with the other organisations in your project if its application is successful. Describe the data and explain why you are confident you will have access to this data.

Your answer can be up to 200 words long.

Background and further information

Innovation Lab

Taking part will be:

  • an Innovate UK director
  • up to 60 participants, who are expected to contribute fully and constructively
  • a team of mentors to provide advice, feedback and input
  • Innovation Lab facilitators to design the activities and schedule sessions
  • independent stakeholders with real experience of the challenge

The Innovation Lab process will include:

  • evolving a common language, terminology and concept of operations
  • sharing understanding of the challenges, and benefitting from one another’s expertise
  • taking part in break-out sessions, using creative thinking techniques
  • capturing outputs as project ideas
  • forming new consortia that would not otherwise have had the potential to develop
  • creating a presentation on a project proposal

The venue will be accessible both in terms of links to public transport and personal facilities. Its facilities will help balance working and relaxation time. All rooms will be single and have en-suite facilities. If you have particular needs, please contact the Programme Manager by emailing the Innovate UK Customer Support Service at These will be considered on a case by case basis.

We will contact you about your dietary needs before the event.

The teams will have until 20 November to finalise their proposals and agree them with their organisations.

Extra help

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

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