Funding competition SBRI funding competition: business productivity portal

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £500,000 to develop solutions that provide information on improving business productivity.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


Innovate UK is to invest up to £500,000 to develop solutions that provide businesses with access to information on improving productivity. These solutions will help businesses at all levels - leaders, management and employees - access new opportunities to improve productivity levels where they work.

We are looking for proposals for feasibility studies on the:

  • technical solution
  • commercialisation plan for taking the solution into the market
  • possible commercial models

We are looking for solutions that will:

  • enable businesses to confidently simulate the benefits of opportunities to improve business productivity in a safe environment
  • provide businesses with trustworthy information on the most impactful opportunities and the size of their benefits
  • provide users with a strong incentive to act
  • help to de-risk the business case for adopting improvements
  • be free-to-use
  • adopt a commercial model that is fair to the suppliers of business productivity improvements

We will fund feasibility studies on proposed solutions.

We expect projects to last up to 4 months and to finish by Friday 30 March 2018.

Funding type


Project size

Projects can range in size up to a total cost of £110,000 (including VAT).

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project, you must:

  • be an organisation of any size

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding projects covering:

  • solutions that do not give a holistic view of a business and its improvement opportunities. For instance, a solution that looks only at one technical aspect of productivity such as process modelling
  • solutions that do not focus on business productivity. For instance, focusing instead on resource-use productivity (of energy, water or materials)
  • solutions that do not provide fair access to the suppliers of improvement opportunities
  • solutions that will be available only to a closed group of users
  • solutions that do not advance the state-of-the-art. For example, see the background section for more information on the self-assessment tool recently released by the Productivity Leadership Group

Funding and project details

Up to £500,000 (including VAT) is available in phase 1. The contract value of feasibility studies must not exceed £110,000 (including VAT).

Our intention for phase 2 is to make available up to £500,000 (including VAT) to develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstrators, with contract values of up to £250,000 (including VAT).

A decision on whether to move forward with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. We may adjust the provisional funding allocations between the 2 phases. The total funding available for the competition may also change.

Project details

Successful applicants will complete a research and development feasibility study of the technical solution. Proposals should include a commercialisation plan for the ongoing support of the solution. They should also include a plan for research on commercial models.

Projects will last up to 4 months and must finish by Friday 30 March 2018.

Projects can range in size up to a total of £110,000 (including VAT).

Projects will be 100% funded. You will be able to keep the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated from the project. Innovate UK will keep some rights of use for demonstrating success.

Competition scope

The aim of this competition is to develop new solutions that provide companies with information on the range of business productivity improvements they could make in their place of work.

Businesses currently do not have free access to information on the range of improvements available to them. Also, the incentives to act on these opportunities are often not seen as being strong enough. This can prevent them from building the business case for adopting improvements.

By funding the research and development of new innovative solutions, we aim to:

  • catalyse an increase in the productivity of a large number of businesses leading to a significant positive impact on the economy
  • ensure businesses have access to a free-to-use and safe environment in which to simulate the benefit of improvement opportunities
  • help them get information they can trust on the size of the opportunity and the incentives to act

By improvement opportunities we mean the range of products, capital equipment, technology, digital and other services and management practices that could improve the productivity of the business.

By management practices we mean:

  • leadership
  • talent management
  • planning for the future
  • commercial excellence
  • operational efficiency

These may be new to the market or new to the business.

Incentives to act might include the sharing of benchmark results in local or sector-based league tables. This could be a community of companies which are all trying to progress and share best practice. They could be regionally-based, sector-based or a group based around an end-to-end supply chain. Gamification may help to increase engagement, usage and competition.

We will fund solutions that:

  • provide businesses with information on the most impactful and relevant improvement opportunities
  • provide an incentive to act
  • help to de-risk the business case for adopting improvements
  • are free-to-use once commercialised
  • have a business plan in place to generate enough income to provide their future support, maintenance and promotion

Phase 2 will fund contracts to develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstrators. Our decision to move forward with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1.

We expect phase 1 feasibility studies to include the following but we also welcome other ideas:

  • the model and structure of the solution
  • how the solution is technically viable, including case studies developed with stakeholders and users
  • the sectors, firms and regions of the economy where their solutions would be relevant
  • the quality data needed to build (and have trust in) a model that will provide information on business productivity improvements relevant to the specific user
  • how the solution should affect business investment decisions
  • how a free-to-use solution can be sustainable, taking ongoing support and maintenance costs into account. And how it can be fair to suppliers of productivity improvements
  • data management to ensure user confidence and safety
  • risks and assumptions

We expect projects to engage with stakeholders and end users. This will support the development of the solution and user experience. It will also validate the performance of the solution.

Innovate UK will expect to have access to management information on the use of your commercial solution to demonstrate success. There is an Advisory Group associated with this project, which includes representatives from Innovate UK, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and members of the Productivity Leadership Group.

24 July 2017
Competition opens
3 August 2017
Briefing event for applicants - watch the recording.
27 September 2017 12:00pm
Registration closes
4 October 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
3 November 2017
Applicants notified

Before you start

To apply:

  • the lead applicant must register online. You must complete a separate registration for each proposal you submit
  • read the invitation to tender which will be available on our secure server after registration
  • attend the briefing event for potential applicants on 3 August 2017 or watch the recording (found under the dates tab)
  • complete and upload your online application for phase 1. You must complete a separate form for each innovation proposed
  • view the guidance and application questions for this competition

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A panel of selected experts will assess your application and make sure it meets the aims of this competition. We will then choose the best proposals.

Also, please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a successful application.

Background and further information

The UK has a serious and long-standing productivity gap. We are currently around 35% behind Germany, 30% behind the US and 9% behind Italy. Although the UK has many well-run businesses, analysis by McKinsey shows that we also have many with below-standard productivity levels. This problem appears in all sectors of the economy, and in small, medium and large businesses. A small improvement in productivity across a broad base of firms could unlock over £100 billion of Gross Value Added (GVA) every year.

The Productivity Leadership Group recently released the first version of an online, free-to-use productivity tool. We recommend you refer to this when you’re preparing your proposal. We also recommend you attend the webinar on 3 August when we’ll be providing an overview of this tool and how you can access it.

You can find out more about the tool and the Productivity Leadership Group on the Be The Business website.

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

Applications must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for R&D services. R&D can cover solution exploration and design. It can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Further help and information

Directions on how to enter this competition can be found in the Invitation to Tender document available on our secure server once you register.

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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