Funding competition ATI programme: R&D funding for smaller business, expression of interest

UK companies can apply for a share of up to £8 million to carry out industry-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £8 million in research and technology projects. This is to deliver world leading aerospace technologies in the UK.

This call supports and encourages industrial investment into the aerospace sector and its supply chain, through the funding of innovative and high impact projects. These projects will demonstrate forward-looking and disruptive solutions to UK civil aerospace challenges.

This is phase 1 of a 2-phase competition. This phase is for expressions of interest. Phase 2 of this competition will open in February 2020 (dates to be communicated separately). Successful submissions to phase 1 will be reviewed for changes when submitted to phase 2; we will not accept unjustified changes to the project consortium or costs. Changes made, may lead to your application being rejected.

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

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £1.5 million.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time funding is awarded. If you are unsure, please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Projects must start by 1 September 2020 and end by 31 September 2023.

They can last between 12 and 36 months, your total eligible project costs must be between £250,000 and £1.5 million. Your project’s total grant must be between £125,000 and £750,000.

Projects must:

  • be collaborative
  • include a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • have a creditable route to market
  • identify end-users
  • address the priorities stated in the current UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, published in November 2019

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTO) cannot lead.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • plan to 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 and enter their costs as part of the application.

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

If an RTO is participating as a business, you must show that the match funding you are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in. You must also show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.

Multiple applications

Any one UK registered business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications in this round. Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or RTOs can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal the ATI Programme partners judge 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 once more in a future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you have applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or a UK Research and Innovation organisation, 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 this 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 must 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 £8 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

The business funding rules are that:

  • all businesses can get up to 50% funding for their eligible project costs
  • large businesses can only claim up to 30% of the total project funding, and if your consortium contains more than one organisation in this category, this maximum is shared between them
  • at least 50% of total grant funding must go to the SMEs in your consortium

RTOs and public sector organisations or charities can:

  • share up to 30% of the grant, and if your consortium contains more than one organisation in this category, this maximum is shared between them
  • participate as either:
  1. A research organisation, and receive up to 100% grant.
  2. Or a business entity, and be reimbursed up to 50% of your eligible costs.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, aid for 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, including in relation to undertakings in difficulty.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to develop and encourage technological innovation within the civil aerospace sector, which can be exploited in the next 5 years.

Your project must align to the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy.

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

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following value streams from the latest UK Aerospace Technology Strategy (2019):

  • vehicles
  • propulsion and power
  • systems
  • aerostructures
  • cross-cutting enablers

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • which are primarily aligned to defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual-use technologies provided the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • that cover fundamental research or experimental development
  • with scope outside of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy

25 November 2019
Competition opens
2 December 2019
Brimingham briefing event
15 January 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
21 February 2020 11:28am
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

You should also read specific information about this programme before you start your application.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

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 100 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.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. 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 200 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers.

Question 1. Business opportunity

What is the business opportunity that your project addresses?


  • the business opportunity identified and how you plan to take advantage of it
  • how it is done today and the limits of current practice
  • the customer needs that have been identified and how the project will meet them
  • the challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome them

Where possible, quantify the problems and project outputs that you will be targeting.

You can submit charts in a one page PDF appendix no larger than 10MB to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom

Question 2. Market

What is the size of the potential market for your project?


  • the details of the target market, including the size, margins, market leaders, key competitors, price competition and barriers to entry
  • the expected share of market, such as wide body, narrow body or services
  • the growth opportunity your project will create, including the projected market share it will make possible
  • the specific target product, platform and service applications underpinning the market opportunity, and when you expect them to come into service
  • the return on investment that the project could achieve, providing relevant source data references
  • the existing or future customer relationships that would benefit from this project

Question 3. Results

How will you exploit and disseminate your project results? What is your route to market?

Address and describe your:

  • expected project outputs, including products, services, processes and capabilities
  • consortium exploitation plan, including the route to market, intellectual property, changes to business models or processes, research and development (R&D), and manufacturing services
  • End user/customer engagement
  • consortium spill-over or dissemination plan, demonstrating how your activities will contribute to the wider aerospace industry and other sectors

Question 4. Benefits

What economic, social and environmental benefits do you expect your project to deliver, and when?

Describe all the benefits you expect your project to generate, both inside and outside of the consortium.

Project expenditure

Describe the R&D, capital and training expenditure which you expect to be made as a result of this project. What do you expect the expenditure to be made on?

Jobs impacts

How many jobs do you expect the project partners to either safeguard or create as a direct result of this project? Which jobs will be safeguarded? Explain why the project is needed to safeguard or create these jobs.

Where relevant you can also describe any expected training or jobs safeguarded or created as an indirect result of this project.

Other impacts

Describe any other impacts that would not happen without your project. For example, effects on greenhouse gas, noise, air quality and so on.

Question 5. Technical approach

What technical approach will you use and how will you manage your project?

Describe the areas of work and your objectives. List all resource and management needs. Provide an overview of the technical approach.

You must:

  • describe the technical approach, including the main objectives of the work
  • explain how and why the approach is appropriate
  • tell us how you will make sure the innovative steps in the project are achievable
  • describe rival technologies and alternative R&D strategies
  • explain how you will measure your success

You must submit a work breakdown structure (including the cost of each work package) as a one page PDF appendix no larger than 10MB to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Innovation

What is innovative about your project?

Tell us:

  • how it will push boundaries beyond current leading-edge science and technology
  • how it will apply existing technologies in new areas
  • what competitors are doing, and how they are trying to achieve the same outputs
  • how and why any IP from the project will be free from restriction and readily exploited
  • how the research is new in an industrial and/or academic context

Give evidence in support of any statements or claims.

You can detail the level of innovation though patent search results, competitor analyses or literature surveys. If relevant, you should also outline your own intellectual property rights.

You must submit a table in a one page PDF appendix no larger than 10MB to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom. In your table list the technology, why it is innovative, and the change in technology or manufacturing readiness at the start and end of the project.

Question 7. Risks

What are the risks (technical, commercial and environmental) to your project’s success? What is your risk management strategy?

Identify or give:

  • the main risks and uncertainties within the project
  • a detailed risk analysis and mitigation steps taken or planned for each risk
  • the new level of risk with mitigation in place
  • the project management resources required to minimise operational risk

Question 8. Team and facilities

Does your project team have the right skills, experience and facilities to deliver this project?

Demonstrate that the project team:

  • has the right mix of skills and experience to complete the project
  • has a track record in managing research and development projects
  • has clear objectives and roles or responsibilities

Describe the benefits of your collaboration. What advantages does being part of a consortium offer the project?

Question 9. Costs

Provide us with estimates of partners’ eligible costs and the funding you are seeking.

Type “Table attached” in the field below and give your estimates in a table as an attached appendix. Give details of the total eligible costs and total funding requested for this project. The table can be a single PDF or spreadsheet up to 1 page long. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

Give your table the following headings:

  • partner’s name
  • country where work is being carried out
  • partner’s eligible costs (£)
  • funding sought by partner (£)
  • the funding sought by a partner can be zero.

Question 10. Added value to the UK

How does financial support from the ATI Programme add value to the UK?

Address both of the following:

  1. Why do you need this much funding? Explain what other sources of funding have been considered, including private investment, and why it is not available. Your supporting evidence could include, but is not limited to business cases, internal rate of return analysis, or other financial comparisons of the scenarios with funding and without funding.
  2. What will happen to the project in the absence of funding? Describe and provide evidence for what will occur if the application for funding is not successful, in particular whether:

a) some or all of the project would be likely to be carried out overseas, listing overseas sites able to carry out the work, explaining the implications for cost, quality and timescales, and outlining any likely support from overseas governments

b) the project investment and benefits will be scaled back in the UK, explaining where applicable the impact a delay or a change of scope would have on starting the project

Background and further information

This competition is funded from the ATI programme budget. Innovate UK and the ATI work closely to deliver this programme on behalf of the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is the government department accountable for the programme budget and decides which projects will be funded.

Extra help

If you want help regarding the scope of this competition, or if you need help finding a partner, please contact the ATI by email, by phone on 0203 696 8301 or by visiting the ATI website.

If you need technical assistance regarding your application, email the customer support team at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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