Funding competition Manufacturing made smarter: round 1 (fast start)

Up to £30 million is available for projects to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Projects must have the potential for rapid impact.

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Competition sections

Description

The Industry Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will invest up to £30 million in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. The challenge will support innovation and deployment of IDTs across industry sectors via cross-sector collaboration and learning.

We welcome a variety of project types, from feasibility studies to large innovation and/or demonstrator projects.

Projects must be able to achieve rapid technology development and deployment.

We will use a portfolio approach to achieve a balance between the 4 challenge themes, industrial sectors, project types and company sizes.

All projects must be ready to start on or before 1 December 2019, with a defined consortium agreement, agreed industry match funding and a project plan.

Projects must be business led and collaborative, with all consortia involving at least one SME. Projects led by SMEs are encouraged.

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

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £10 million. Projects can be of 6 months to 2 years duration.

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

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £10 million.

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.

Projects must be collaborative and involve an SME.

You must start your project on or before 1 December 2019 and end by 31 October 2021. They can last between 6 months and 2 years

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK based manufacturing business of any size
  • collaborate with other businesses, research and technology organisation (RTO), public sector organisations or charities
  • involve at least one SME
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

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

A business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

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

An RTO or academic institution can collaborate in any number of applications.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you've 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.

Funding

We have allocated up to £ 30 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Total funding available to each project must not exceed 40% of the total eligible project costs. This is regardless of the individual partners’ grant claims.

Of the 40% you can get funding for feasibility and industrial research projects up to:

  • 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 35% if you are an SME
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects, 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

The aim of this competition is to fund projects focussed on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Projects must be able to achieve short-term impact and rapid technology development.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. Projects should involve a mix of digital technologies, rather than focus on one specific technology.

Projects can be led by any industry sector but must show they are applicable in at least 2 other sectors. Larger projects should include partners from these sectors.

Applicable sectors include but are not limited to:

  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • defence
  • digital
  • equipment and instrumentation
  • food and drink
  • pharma
  • oil and gas
  • space.

You should outline:

  • how the project enables innovation and deployment of IDTs within manufacturing
  • how the output and learning from the project will be shared across at least 2 other sectors
  • how the project addresses the objectives below

The ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Programme objectives are:

  1. Increase UK manufacturing sector investment in industrial digitalisation research and development (R&D) and adoption of new IDTs.
  2. Increase cross-sector collaboration between UK manufacturing sectors to drive the creation of common digital solutions.
  3. Increase number of digital technology companies providing solutions for manufacturing industries
  4. Increase number of collaborations between SMEs and larger, more established companies up the value chain.
  5. Increase UK manufacturing and digital manufacturing solution exports.

To be in scope, your project needs to fit within one of the 4 innovation themes outlined under specific themes.

Specific themes

Projects must focus on at least one of the 4 innovation themes. Please choose the most applicable theme.

1. Smart connected factory, including:

  • use of real-time data to optimise operational efficiency
  • capture, analysis and visualisation of manufacturing processes

2. Connected and versatile supply chain, including:

  • information integration, communication, traceability and trust

3. Design, make, test, including:

  • transforming product design through digital technologies
  • virtual product testing, verification and validation, quality monitoring and inspection

4. Adaptable, flexible manufacturing operations and skills, including:

  • culture change and skills development to fully utilise technologies
  • human-centric automation and autonomy to enable expandable, flexible manufacturing systems

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • with only single sector applicability
  • that focus on a single IDT or other technology
  • lasting longer than 2 years
  • without an SME in the consortia
  • that will not be ready to start by 1 December 2019

24 July 2019
Competition opens
30 July 2019
London briefing event (full).
30 July 2019
Online briefing event.
28 August 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
14 October 2019
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

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. Is the application 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.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition and indicate which innovation theme best fits your project. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

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

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers.

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 focuses 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 must 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 roles you will need to recruit for

You must 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 must 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 must 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 each partner 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

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to 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

The ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Programme was formed from the recommendations of the Made Smarter Review, 2017. It will work in conjunction with the Made Smarter Commission and the National Adoption Programme, of which the Made Smarter NW Pilot is the first pilot. The main aim of this programme is to ensure the long term prosperity of UK manufacturing, raising total productivity by 30%, making the UK a global leader of the 4th Industrial Revolution and delivering clean growth.

Expected economic and wider, social benefits or impacts from this challenge include:

  • improvement in manufacturing productivity
  • additional contribution to UK gross added value
  • increased exports, inward investment and new high quality jobs
  • thriving and rapidly growing tech developer community
  • UK manufacturing innovation, competitiveness & growth
  • UK exploitation of research led emerging technologies
  • reduction in CO2 emissions
  • improved health and safety of manufacturing environments
  • improved safety and conformity of products
  • increased value to consumers including improved product quality, personalisation, job satisfaction, lower prices, increased convenience, wider choice

Funded projects and other programme outputs will be monitored and evaluated to measure achievement of these benefits.

Extra help

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

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