Funding competition Commercialising quantum technology: technology projects round 1, expression of interest

UK businesses can express an interest in applying for a share of up to £30 million to collaborate on quantum technology development projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The aim of the competition is to address technological barriers to the commercial or industrial exploitation of quantum technologies in the UK. Your project must focus on one or more of the following technical barriers:

  • connectivity
  • situational awareness
  • computing
Your project must also:

  • exploit second generation quantum techniques
  • demonstrate how the technological advance will accelerate the commercialisation and industrialisation of quantum technologies in the UK

We expect your application’s lead organisation to be a business but in exceptional circumstances research and technology organisations (RTOs) will be considered.

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

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition

Phase 1 is an expression of interest (EoI). No funding will be allocated under stage 1.

The decision to proceed with phase 2 depends on the success of phase 1. Only successful applicants in phase 1 will be invited to apply for funding in phase 2, which will include an interview panel.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £4 million and £20 million. The total grant requested must be below £10 million.

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 £4 million and £20 million. The total grant requested must be below £10 million.

Projects must be collaborative.

They must last between 18 and 36 months. Projects must start by the end of September 2020.

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone but in exceptional circumstances an RTO can lead. The RTO must provide justification by email to at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve their request.

If an RTO is approved to lead on an application they must collaborate with 2 businesses or more and can only lead once.

Project partners

To collaborate with the lead organisation you must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • enter your costs as part of the application

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.

You should make sure that your participation in a project does not prevent any intellectual property (IP) generated by the project from being exploited in the UK.

We encourage you to include the largest possible selection of UK businesses affected by the technological barrier you are focusing on.

Multiple applications

Any one business can only lead on one application but can be a partner in any number of applications.

If an RTO is not the lead on any application, they can collaborate in any number of applications.

An academic institution can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications


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.


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

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • 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 45% 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

You may need to claim a percentage of funding that is less than the maximum allowed for your organisation size in order to keep your total grant requested below the limit of £10 million.

The 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 collaborative research, development and innovation’ 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 is to remove technological barriers to speed up the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK and increase private sector investment in the research, development and manufacture of the resulting hardware, software and services.

You must identify a technological barrier and propose an innovative project that addresses it to the benefit of UK quantum companies.

Your project must:

  • outline the technological barrier’s implications to businesses
  • describe a credible solution and how it is innovative and competitive
  • evaluate the value it will add to the UK quantum industry
  • provide a roadmap of future exploitation

You must also exploit second generation quantum techniques. Second generation quantum technologies are defined as those involving the generation and coherent control of quantum states, resulting in phenomena such as superposition or entanglement. Technologies involving single photon generation and quantum computing are also regarded as being within scope

You must describe how you will collect project metrics, including:

  • investment in addition to the project partner matched funding
  • capital investment

We are particularly encouraging applications that:

  • focus on maximising UK return from the quantum technology research undertaken by the UK academic base
  • bring significant new investment and businesses into the UK’s growing quantum technologies sector

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories.

Specific themes

You must address at least one of the following:

1. Connectivity: techniques for securing data in storage and in flight.

2. Situational awareness: autonomous systems; sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure; and imaging and sensing to “see things currently invisible”.

3. Computing: transformational computers for solving intractable problems.

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that do not exploit second generation quantum techniques.
21 October 2019
Phase 1 publication date
28 October 2019
Phase 1 open date
28 October 2019
Competition opens
30 October 2019
London briefing event
27 November 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
9 December 2019
Phase 2 opens
19 December 2019 5:03pm
Applicants notified
5 February 2020
Phase 2 closes
9 March 2020
Invitations to interview
26 March 2020
Interviews week commencing

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start. Phase 1 expression of interest applications will not be assessed but we will check they are in scope.

What we will ask you

The phase 1 application has 2 sections. Phase 2 will also include application questions for assessment.

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

Project details

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. Explain the technological barrier it addresses and be clear about what makes it innovative.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The scope will be checked by Innovate UK. Applications into this phase of this competition will not be sent for assessment.

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

Question 1. Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and you will not be invited to apply to phase 2. We will give you feedback on why.

Background and further information

Extra help

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

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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