Funding competition SBRI: monitor and visualise domestic pollution to safeguard health

Organisations can apply for a share of £100,000 including VAT, to develop an air quality monitor to provide information and advice on pollutants in the home.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition.

Innovate UK, working on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will fund organisations to develop and demonstrate new products and/ or services. These must enable households to measure, visualise and respond to harmful household air pollution in order to safeguard health.

The overall programme will be delivered in 2 phases. This is phase 1 and will focus on exploring the feasibility of proposals. Phase 2 will concentrate on research, development and testing. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

Funding type


Project size

In phase 1 projects can range in size up to a total cost of £20,000 each, including VAT. Projects must start by the 1 August 2020, end by 1 November 2020 and can last up to 3 months.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects must start by 1 August 2020, end by 1 November 2020 and can last up to 3 months.


To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with other organisations as subcontractors

Contracts will be awarded only to individual organisations. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.


A total of up to £100,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 1. Phase 1 is focused on supporting feasibility studies. These should result in a technical and commercial specification, detailed design package and test plan for a technical solution.

We expect to fund up to 5 projects in phase 1. Individual feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts will be up to £20,000, including VAT, and can last for up to 3 months.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

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

State aid

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and therefore are not subject to the state aid criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

Phase 2

Phase 2 will be focused on developing a prototype and undertaking field-testing to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution. We plan to fund up to 3 contracts of up to £300,000 each, including VAT, for projects lasting up to a year.

Your proposal

Action to reduce the health impacts of air pollution tends to focus on outdoor sources, notably emissions from vehicles. However, indoor levels of some air pollutants are often far higher, and many end up in the external atmosphere. Particulate matter (PM), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), and sulphur dioxide (SO2) are all present in domestic environments and can be detrimental to health.

The aim of this competition is to support the research and development (R&D) of products and/or services which monitor a wide range of household pollutants. These solutions must raise awareness of the potential impacts of the pollution in the home, providing timely and appropriate information so that householders can make effective choices to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours.

Your proposed solution must:

  • be innovative
  • be practical and deliverable
  • take affordability into consideration
  • monitor more than one pollutant

We particularly encourage applications that:

  • go beyond monitoring pollutants to create visualisations and information which promote responses that safeguard health
  • explore and trial mechanisms to aggregate household data, securely and in line with data protection best practice, in order to improve strategic understanding and response to poor indoor air quality
  • consider user experience throughout the design and development process
  • show a clear plan for commercialisation and a route to market for affordable, developed solutions
  • show a strong connection between both the proposed activities and solution to relevant academic research on protecting health from indoor exposure to harmful pollutants
  • show scalability and replicability and how the solutions could adapt in response to new understanding of indoor air pollution issues over time
  • set out clearly how solutions might be tested in a real world setting as part of phase 2

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only. You must define your goals and outline your plan for phase 2. This is part of the full commercial implementation in your phase 1 proposal.

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

Research Categories

In phase 1 you must work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution. In phase 2 the outcome of your project will be a prototype of the solution.

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real life operating conditions. The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set.

In phase 1 the supplier will work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution. The outcome of phase 2 will be a prototype of the solution.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects which:

  • focus primarily on outdoor air pollution
  • monitor only one pollutant
  • provide no actionable feedback to householders
20 February 2020
Competition opens
3 March 2020
Applicant briefing - Recording
20 May 2020 12:00pm
Competition closes
10 July 2020
13 July 2020 5:48pm
Applicants notified
1 August 2020
Phase 1 contracts awarded

Before you start

By submitting an application you agree to the terms of the draft contract which is available once you start your application. The final contract will include any details you have agreed with the funding authority and will be sent to you if your application is successful. The terms and conditions included in the draft contract should not substantially change.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite colleagues from your organisation and subcontractors to contribute to the application.

What happens next

A selected panel of assessors will review your application. For phase 2 these assessors can also take into account the phase 1 end-of-phase report. Innovate UK might also ask a number of finalists to attend an interview or give a demonstration. Soon after that you will be awarded contracts and provided with feedback.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

3. Finances.

1. Project details

These sections are not scored.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Project summary and scope

Describe your project briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative and how it relates to the scope of the competition.

Give details of the lead organisation. Before you submit we expect you to have discussed your application within your own organisation and any other relevant organisations.

List any organisations that are undertaking work as subcontractors.

Describe how your proposal meets the scope of the competition. How does it tackle different aspects of the challenge and how will it provide an integrated solution? If your application covers more than one theme, please state which other themes are applicable for your project.

Your answer for this section can be up to 800 words long. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits the scope of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.

Public description

Please provide a brief description of your project. If your application is successful, we will publish this description. This question is mandatory but we will not assess this content as part of your application.

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. We have the right to amend the description before publication if necessary but will consult you about any changes.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application Questions

The assessors will score your answers to all these questions.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

1. Proposed idea or technology

Provide a brief description of your proposed idea or technology. How does it address the outcomes described in the competition scope?

Describe the current state of development or readiness of the idea.

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF containing images and diagrams to support your answer. It can be no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How well does the proposal meet the challenge?’

2. Technical project summary

Give a short background to the main technical challenges. State what the innovation is and the main technical deliverables.

This would typically involve highlighting the research and development that will prove the scientific and commercial merit of the project. Also describe what might be achieved by deploying the innovation to address the technical challenges.

Briefly describe how you will address the challenge.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How valid is the technical approach?’

3. Current state of the art and intellectual property

Detail other products on the market and the innovation of your proposed project. Include details of any existing intellectual property (IP) and its significance to your freedom to operate.

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘How innovative is this project? How much does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area?’

4. Project plan and methodology

Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones. Highlight what resources will be needed to address the technical challenges and what the main success criteria would be.

The plan for phase 1 must be comprehensive. For phase 2 only an outline is required. The emphasis throughout should be on practicality. We are seeking evidence that the technology works, can be made into a viable product and can achieve the proposed benefits.

Identify the project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones and indicate your required payment schedule by month. Describe the main technical, commercial and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them.

You must:

  • indicate how you would handle any IP issues which might arise during the project
  • allow for the preparation of a detailed plan for phase 2, towards the end of phase 1

Please ensure that if you are working with subcontractors you explain how you will maintain freedom to operate and fulfil the IP requirements detailed in the contract.

You must upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long including dates of milestones, resources required, payment schedule by month and success criteria. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be assessed against these assessment criteria: ‘Does the proposal show a clear plan for establishing technical and commercial feasibility and the development of a working prototype? Is there a clear management plan What are the main technical, commercial and environmental risks to project success? Will these be effectively managed? Are the milestones and evaluation procedures appropriate?’

Please note information from question 8 will be used to support evaluation of this question.

5. Technical team and expertise

Provide a brief description of your technical team. Include the expertise of each team member that is relevant to your application and how much of their time will be spent on the project.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘Does the applicant have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the intended benefits?’

6. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost for phase 1? How does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs, including VAT, you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise

You can submit a single appendix as a spreadsheet no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Indicate your potential costs for phase 2. Progression to phase 2 depends on your success in phase 1.

Costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a “fair market value” and not include profit.

Full economic cost (FEC) calculations are not relevant for SBRI competitions. SBRI is a competitive process and applications will come from a variety of organisations. Whatever calculation you use to arrive at your total eligible project costs your application will be assessed against applications from other organisations. Bear this in mind when calculating your total eligible project costs. You can include overheads but remember that this is a competitive process.

All costs must include VAT. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications must list total costs inclusive of VAT. If you are VAT exempt then you can quote without VAT but you will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT later on.

The assessors are required to judge the application finances in terms of value for money. In other words, does the proposed cost for effort and deliverables reflect a fair market price? They will score your finances against this assessment criterion: ‘Are the budget and costs realistic, justified and appropriate for the aims and methods?

Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question.

7. Commercial potential

Describe how you would realise the commercial potential of your proposal and to what timescales, including a clear plan to deliver that and a route to market.

Describe the competitive advantage that your proposal has over existing or alternative technologies that meet market needs.

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘Is there obvious commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service? Is there a clear delivery plan and route to market? How significant is the competitive advantage of this technology over existing technologies that meet the market’s needs?’

8. Milestones

Download the milestone template and complete it. Please state ‘Milestone template uploaded’ in the answer field.

You must upload the completed milestone template as an appendix. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Please note this question is not scored.

9. Who made you aware of the competition?

Where did you find out about this competition, for example, Innovate UK website, search engine, Knowledge Transfer Network or other organisation?

10. How long has your organisation been established for and what is your organisation’s primary area of focus?

State how long your organisation has been established for in years and months.

3. Finances

Enter your project costs, organisation details and funding details. For full information on what costs you can claim, see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

About Small Business Research Initiative competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness.

The SBRI programme:

  • supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of R&D
  • generates new business opportunities for companies
  • provides a route to market for their ideas
  • bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies

SBRI competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized businesses, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focused on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation.

Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting authority. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development.

By submitting this application you acknowledge that:

  • you have read the statement above
  • you have read the draft contract and are prepared to agree to the terms and conditions if you are successful
  • you agree that your contact details can be passed to other government agencies and Affinity Partners
  • the information given in this application is complete
  • you are actively engaged in this project and responsible for its overall management
  • you agree to administer the award if made

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and UKRI (each an “agency”).

Your submitted application and any other information you provide at the application stage can be submitted to each agency on an individual basis for its storage, processing and use. Any relevant information produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to UKRI and vice versa.

Innovate UK is directly responsible to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Innovate UK and UKRI are directly responsible to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK, and UKRI will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Further help and information

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

If you are a UK SME and successful in receiving an award, you will be contacted by your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Innovation Advisor. They act on behalf of Innovate UK to discuss the growth opportunities for your business. They offer bespoke business support services to help you maximise your project and business potential. This service forms part of your Innovate UK offer under our commitment to help UK SMEs grow and scale. Please engage positively with your EEN contact so that, working together, you can determine the most appropriate form of growth support for your business.

If you have any questions about the requirements of this competition, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

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