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Funding competition Commercialisation of quantum technologies 4

You can apply for a share of £9 million to work with research organisations or other businesses on commercialising quantum technologies.

This competition is now closed.

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Up to £9 million is available in the competition. Innovate UK is to invest up to £6 million. The Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPSRC) will invest up to £3 million.

The aim of this competition is to encourage the commercialisation of quantum technologies. It will help businesses and research organisations undertaking commercialisation, research or development projects in this area to develop new markets and technologies.

Projects should range in size from total project costs of £40,000 to £500,000. We may consider projects outside this range but you should contact us at least 10 days before the submission deadline to discuss further.

Projects should last between 3 months and 1 year. We will not accept projects outside of this range.

You must be collaborative. A UK business or research and technology organisation may lead the project.

Businesses may take part in no more than 3 projects in this competition.

You can apply twice with the same project to any competition, that means one re-submission only. If in the judgement of the Innovation Lead your project is not ‘materially different’ from your previous project, it will be deemed a re-submission.

Funding type


Project size

We expect projects to range in size from total project costs of £40,000 to £500,000.


Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-based business or research and technology organisation
  • be a business of any size
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base and/or research and technology organisation)
  • be working on a project to develop the technology or market for devices that exploit quantum technologies or their components

Research and technology organisations
For research organisations, the maximum level of project participation is set at 50% of total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, they must share this allocation.

Research and technology organisations may lead a project providing:

  • they are able to explain why they, and not one of the business participants, should lead the project
  • they collaborate in the project with at least 2 or more businesses (one must be an SME)
  • their involvement is no greater than 50% of the total eligible project costs
  • the project shows a clear route to market, most likely through non-lead project partners

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding fundamental research into devices. We define fundamental research as work that:

  • still needs excessive theoretical work
  • has not proven its effectiveness through previous experiments or prototypes

Funding and project details

Innovate UK has allocated up to £6 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. EPSRC has allocated an additional £3 million.

We expect projects to last between 3 months and one year.

Total eligible project costs should be between £40,000 to £500,000.

A business or research and technology organisation must lead the project and all projects must be collaborative.

Project types

Your project can focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. This will depend on the challenge.

For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a 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 that are nearer to market, you could receive:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs 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 total of all research organisation costs can be no more than 50% of the total project costs.

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.


Competition scope

The aim of this competition is to encourage collaborative feasibility studies that will improve understanding of the technical or market feasibility of a product or service.

The scope of this competition allows for both technical and non-technical projects. This includes projects that focus on understanding the business or market opportunity and challenges.

Technical projects

These projects will develop and establish feasibility for devices that exploit one or more of the following phenomena:

  • entanglement
  • superposition

The scope also allows for component technologies. These will be important in the construction of future quantum systems or subsystems. They include but are not limited to:

  • vacuum systems
  • stabilised laser systems
  • integrated systems, including integrated lasers and vacuums
  • algorithms, control and interpretation software
  • single photon light sources and detectors

Non-technical projects

These projects will involve work to understand:

  • future markets
  • applications or business models
  • the route to future commercialisation
  • adoption of quantum technologies

This may include projects that involve one or more of the following activities:

  • knowledge exchange, learning and understanding of quantum technologies and their potential applications
  • capture of user, performance or testing specifications (either to the applicant or customer organisation)
  • internal ‘roadmapping’ activities

Specific competition themes

Up to 20% of the budget for this competition is for projects that include a startup company. This company must be under 3 years old, contain fewer than 3 employees and have not received funding from Innovate UK in the past.
We may balance the portfolio of projects funded by technology or application area.

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme is funding this competition. This £270 million initiative launched in December 2013. Its aim is to establish the UK as a world leader in the commercialisation and exploitation of quantum technologies. This is a new and exciting £1 billion sector that Innovate UK has predicted will grow over the next decade.

Innovate UK and EPSRC published 'A roadmap for quantum technologies’ in the UK in September 2015. It outlines recommendations for realising this new industry.


17 July 2017
Competition opens
26 July 2017
Briefing event - watch the recorded webinar.
20 September 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
3 November 2017 4:47pm
Applicants notified

How to apply

Before you start

To start an application you must create an account as the lead applicant, or sign in as a representative of your organisation. Once you have an account you can track the progress of your application.

As a lead applicant:

  • you are responsible for collecting the information for your funding application
  • you can invite other organisations to take part in the project as collaborators if your application is successful
  • you can invite colleagues to contribute to the application
  • your organisation will lead the project if your application is successful

·partner organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities

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

Research organisations

Research organisations may participate in applications as collaborators. In this competition research and technology organisations may also lead a collaborative project subject to the eligibility criteria and rules.

There are specific rules for research partners which limit the amount of involvement a research organisation may have in your project. The participation rule will be set out in the eligibility criteria for the competition.

You will not be able to submit your application if your research participation is over the stated percentage for the competition.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1. Project details

2. Application questions

3. Finances

1. Project details

In this section you will provide the details of your project. This section is not scored, but our assessors will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t fit the scope then it will be immediately rejected. Within project details you will need to complete:

Application details

The title of your project, the start date and project length. This section will also list you as the lead organisation and any partner organisations you have named as collaborators. The lead applicant must complete this section.

Project summary

Describe your project and what is innovative about it. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application so we need a summary of the innovation in your project.

Public description

Describe your project in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If your project is successful and awarded funding, Innovate UK will publish this description.

Project 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 and will not be sent for assessment. Innovate UK will provide feedback if we decide that your project is not in scope.

Portfolio approach

For this competition, Innovate UK will use a portfolio approach. This is to make sure that we allocate funds across the strategic areas identified in the scope of this competition. You must meet a quality threshold if your application is to be successful.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by the assessors. Following assessment, you will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Question 1: Need or challenge

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

  • describe the main motivation for the project; the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • describe the nearest current state-of-the-art (including those near-market or in development) and its limitations
  • describe any work you have already done to respond to this need. For example is the project focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one?
  • identify the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity for example, incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help here.

Question 2: Approach and innovation

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

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

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

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

  • describe the roles, skills and relevant experience of all members of the project team in relation to the approach you will be taking
  • describe the resources, equipment and facilities required for the project and how you will access them
  • provide details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • (if collaborative) describe the current relationships between the project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • highlight any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Specify the markets (domestic and/or international) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets.

For the target markets, describe:

  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by appropriate references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the market such as customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the main supply/value chains and business models in operation and any barriers to entry
  • the current UK position in targeting this market

For highly innovative projects, where the market may be unexplored, explain:

  • what the route to market could or might be
  • what its size might be
  • how the project will seek to explore the market potential

For other markets, briefly describe the size and main features

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

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

  • describe your current position in the markets and supply/value chains outlined for example, if you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • describe your target customers and/or end-users, and the value proposition to them (why would they use/buy it?)
  • describe your route to market
  • tell us how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • explain how the innovation will impact your productivity and growth in the short and long-term
  • describe how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project for example, through know-how, patenting, designs, changes to business model
  • outline your strategy for targeting the other markets identified during or after the project
  • for any research organisation activity in the project, outline your plans to disseminate project research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • if you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities, describe how you will do this

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Identify, and where possible measure, the economic benefits from the project to those outside the project (customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy) such as productivity increases and import substitution.

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected social impacts, either positive or negative, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion/exclusion
  • jobs (safeguarded, created, changed, displaced)
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity
  • any expected impact on government priorities

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative.

Identify any expected regional impacts of the project.

Question 7: Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

  • outline the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category and lead partner assigned to each, and the total cost of each one
  • describe your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure a successful project outcome. Highlight your approach to managing the most innovative aspects of the project
  • outline the management reporting lines
  • outline your project plan in sufficient detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You may upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

  • identify the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks. Highlight the most significant ones, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • explain how these risks will be mitigated
  • list any project inputs on the critical route to completion such as resources, expertise or data sets
  • is the output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical or other similar issues? If so how will you manage this?

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

  • tell us if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make such as faster to market, more partners, reduced risk
  • describe the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • tell us why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding (what would happen if the application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of research and development activity the partners would undertake, and 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?

  • justify the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • explain how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • explain how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer. How does it compare to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • justify the balance of costs and grant across the project partner
  • justify any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation to complete project costs, organisational details and funding details for each organisation in your project. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Supporting information

Background and further information

In December 2013, the UK government announced a £270 million work programme over 5 years. This was to establish the UK as a world leader in the commercialisation and exploitation of quantum technologies. This is a new and exciting £1 billion sector that Innovate UK has predicted will grow over the next decade.

Innovate UK and EPSRC published ‘A roadmap for quantum technologies in the UK’ in September 2015. It outlined recommendations for realising this new industry. One of the 5 action areas was stimulating application and market opportunities in the UK. The roadmap identified promising applications for quantum technologies including:

  • short-term applications (up to 5 years to market) such as components for quantum systems, compact atomic clocks, quantum-enhanced imaging for non-medical applications and quantum communication systems
  • medium-term applications (5 to 10 years to market) such as medical imaging, navigation systems and other sensor systems
  • long-term applications (more than 20 years to market) such as networked quantum information systems, quantum computers and quantum technologies for consumer applications

To ensure that these technologies develop into real products and services, we have set up 4 quantum hubs. The following universities lead these hubs:

  • University of Glasgow (quantum enhanced imaging hub)
  • University of York (quantum communications technologies hub)
  • University of Birmingham (quantum sensing and metrology hub)
  • University of Oxford (quantum networked information technologies hub)

Grants are available to support innovation, develop quantum technologies and explore potential commercial applications. The first round of innovation funding was provided through the competition ‘Exploring the commercial applications of quantum technologies’ which opened on 1 April 2015. It provided £4.7million to support 25 industry-led projects. A second round of funding provided £13 million and supported 28 projects. The third round closed in April 2017 and funded more than £14 million of projects.

We have designed this competition to continue the support for innovation in this area. This will enable businesses to turn quantum technologies into new products and services. It will help businesses new to the sector to discover the benefits of these new technologies. It can also help them establish feasibility of early-stage ideas, concepts or business models for future quantum products or services.

This is the final competition that Innovate UK will run using funding from the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. It will provide businesses with continuous and coherent support. It will also help them to bring these new cutting-edge products to market. All projects must be complete by the end of March 2019.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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