Funding competition Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, industrial research

UK registered businesses can apply for funding towards an industrial research project in digital technologies to transform supply chains in UK manufacturing. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest in 2 competitions to drive digital innovation in UK manufacturing supply chains. The funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

Your project must help UK manufacturing supply chains to develop digital technologies to become more efficient, productive, flexible, resilient. These must encourage the use of digital approaches to better integrate and optimise the performance of supply chains.

This competition comprises of 2 strands running at the same time. The strands are:

Please review the scope to ensure you are applying to the most appropriate strand for your project.

In this competition all projects awarded funding must upload evidence for each expenditure with every claim made. These might include invoices, time sheets, receipts or spreadsheets for capital usage. This is part of Innovate UK’s obligations under the Managing Public Money government handbook in relation to assurance, financial management and control.

The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £1 million and £3 million.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK registered business claiming grant funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. It is not possible to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance on state aid.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £3 million
  • apply for total grant funding of no more than 50% of your total eligible costs
  • start by 1 April 2021
  • last up to 24 months

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

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTO)
  • involve at least one SME
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone.

Find out which definition your organisation falls into.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited by the lead organisation

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Partners must enter their own project costs into IFS.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA). We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

An RTO or academic institution can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition.

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 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.

Funding

We have allocated funding across 2 strands to support innovation projects in this competition:

  1. industrial research (this strand)
  2. feasibility studies

Your project

In this competition the total grant funding your project applies for, which we refer to as ‘funding sought’ in the application, must be no more than 50% of the total eligible project costs. Funding claims from RTO’s and academic partners count towards this 50% limit. Cumulative funding to all parties cannot exceed this limit.

Organisations acting commercially

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

Of that 50%, you can get funding for eligible project costs of up to:

  • 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 50% if you are a large organisation

Organisations not acting commercially

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

Of that 30%, RTOs can claim up to 100% of their costs, and academic institutions can claim up to 80% of their full economic cost (FEC).

If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Funding claims from RTO’s and academic partners count towards this 50% limit. Cumulative funding to all parties cannot exceed this limit.

State aid

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

Aim of the competition

The aim of this competition is to encourage the use of digital technologies to enable more efficient, productive, flexible, resilient and sustainable UK manufacturing supply chains. Projects should seek to integrate and optimise these supply chains.

We will use a portfolio approach to achieve a balance between regional locations, industrial sectors, digital technologies, project types and company sizes.

Your project

Your project must develop a supply chain integration or optimisation idea and carry out a project to test the concepts. It must focus on a digital application.

Your project must investigate one or more problems that your specific supply chain is experiencing and develop ideas for digital technology solutions to address these problems. For example:

  • real-time tracking of products throughout the supply chain using digital technologies such as low-cost sensors, NFC (near field communication), real-time data capture and data analytics
  • improved track and trace capabilities to help companies optimise inventory management and/or establish clear and accurate demand signals to help them eliminate waste

Your project must carry out activity that develops and tests innovative digital solutions in UK manufacturing supply chains, focussing either on supply chain design or supply chain execution, comprising any one of the following:

  • improve and optimise existing supply chain networks
  • re-design or re-engineer existing supply chain networks
  • design new supply chain networks for either new products or processes

Your project must be across a supply chain, not just focused within one organisation or within one supplier.

Outputs

Planned outputs must be:

  • increased understanding of the problems faced by the specific supply chain
  • tested proposal for digital solutions to address these problems
  • case study outlining the proposed digital solution, the results of the project, and qualitative and quantitative evidence of benefits identified

In addition, where possible provide open access to the set-up of the project as a demonstrator of the digital solution.

Your project application must describe how it will help the ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge programme achieve the following objectives:

  1. Increase UK manufacturing sector investment in industrial digitalisation research and development (R&D) and adoption of new industrial digital technologies (IDTs).
  2. Increase the number of digital technology companies providing solutions for manufacturing industries
  3. Increase the number of collaborations between SMEs and larger, more established companies up the value chain.
  4. Increase the sustainability of UK Manufacturing considering reduction in waste, reuse of resources and reduction of carbon emissions.

Online workshops

We will hold online workshops while the competition is open to help potential applicants to:

  • find resources to identify appropriate digital technologies, methods and frameworks
  • develop strategies for data and benefits sharing
  • identify appropriate mechanisms to establish trust between collaborating parties

There is one workshop that is available for all sectors, plus sector specific workshops to choose from. The link to register for one of the workshops can be found in the dates tab. Participation in the workshops is optional.

Your proposal

In your proposal you must:

  • describe how your project will contribute to the challenge objectives
  • identify the range and size of benefits you expect the project to produce, by completing the new appendix in question 5

Feasibility studies

We are running this competition together with a linked competition for feasibility studies.

If you feel your project is not yet ready, or could be enhanced with up-front feasibility studies, you can choose to apply for the feasibility studies competition instead.

Specific themes

Project topics can include, but not be limited to, the following:

Supply chain design:

  • effective risk management through transparency, collaboration, and trust
  • inventory optimisation
  • sustainable supply chains for increased flexibility
  • warehouse optimisation through the consideration of logistics and infrastructure usage
  • confidence in shared data considering provenance, traceability, verification, and quality management
  • new business models that affect the configuration of the supply chain, such as distributed manufacturing and manufacturing as a service

Supply chain execution:

  • demand management, sensing and shaping
  • proactive use of use of demand data for supply chain performance optimisation
  • delivery performance and customer engagement
  • improved decision-making through analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • production planning or scenario modelling
  • track-and-trace technologies and best practice

Research categories

We will fund industrial research projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • focus on internal supply chains without including an external customer or supplier
  • last longer than 24 months
  • are not collaborative
  • do not include an SME in the consortium

6 July 2020
Competition opens
10 July 2020
Pharmaceutical workshop: register to attend
14 July 2020
Online briefing event: recording
16 July 2020
General workshop for any sector: register to attend
21 July 2020
Food and drink workshop: register to attend
31 July 2020
Aerospace and automotive workshop: register to attend
7 October 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
11 December 2020
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

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 400 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.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition and the challenge objectives it is focusing on:

  1. Increase UK manufacturing sector investment in industrial digitalisation research and development (R&D) and adoption of new industrial digital technologies (IDTs).
  2. Increase the number of digital technology companies providing solutions for manufacturing industries
  3. Increase the number of collaborations between SMEs and larger, more established companies up the value chain.
  4. Increase the sustainability of UK Manufacturing considering reduction in waste, reuse of resources and reduction of carbon emissions.

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, except for question 1. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Equality, diversity and inclusion (not scored)

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

You must complete this EDI survey and type ‘EDI survey completed’ within your answer. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Question 2. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate.

Question 3. Approach and innovation

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

Describe or explain:

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

You can submit one appendix. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Team and resources

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

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You can submit one appendix. This can include a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project, and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 6. Outcomes and route to market

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

Describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project
  • If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:
  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

You also need to download the impact table template and upload as an appendix to this question. It must be a PDF and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:

  • external parties
  • customers
  • others in the supply chain
  • broader industry
  • the UK economy

Describe, and where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 8. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • whether this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 11. 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?

In terms of the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Manufacturing Made Smarter

The objective of the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge is to help the UK’s manufacturing industry become more productive and competitive through innovation and adoption of digital technologies.

Digital technologies can help companies rethink and restructure how they design and operate their supply chains. They can also improve how they can operate within end-to-end supply chains.

Customers’ needs are changing fast and problems with the availability of supplies mean supply chains need to adapt, becoming more effective, flexible, resilient, and sustainable.

The Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge has a range of objectives that we need to ensure are delivered. Within this application we have stated the objectives that relate to this competition scope. We require applicants to demonstrate how they will contribute by describing how the project meets these objectives and completion of the Impact table.

Extra help

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

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Enterprise Europe 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.

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