Funding competition UKRI ideas to address COVID-19: Innovate UK de minimis Dec 2020

UK registered businesses and RTOs can apply for funding for short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding is from UKRI.

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Competition sections

Description

(Edit 27 October 2020: Closing date for this competition has been extended to 9 December to allow all UKRI Covid 19 competitions to close on the same day)

(Edit: Closing date for the competition has been changed to 4 November 2020)

This UKRI competition will support UK registered organisations seeking to conduct short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Your application must demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted or permanently disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Your proposal must focus on a clear need and the proposed innovation to address it. You must have the ability to deliver the project during the working restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When we assess the impact of projects, we will take a balanced view between very significant clinical or public health outcomes and credible route to uptake or market impact. Once assessed by Innovate UK, applications will go to UKRI for portfolio and affordability checks.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

The total grant must not exceed 200,000 euros for any one organisation involved in the project.

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. If you are unsure, please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance on state aid.

De minimis

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants for a de minimis award must complete and provide to Innovate UK, a de minimis declaration which can be found in Question 1. This declares any and all de minimis awards (from any source of public funding) during the current and previous 2 fiscal (tax) years.

Total grant must not exceed 200,000 euros for any one organisation in line with the above de minimis regulations.

Agriculture, fisheries and road transport sectors

Innovate UK provides research, development and innovation funding opportunities within the agriculture and fisheries sectors through other forms of aid. However, we will not fund the following through De minimis:

  • aid subsidising any primary production within fishery and aquaculture sectors
  • aid subsidising any primary production of agricultural products

De minimis aid cannot be used for costs associated with:

  • export-related activities towards third countries or Member States, namely aid directly linked to the quantities exported, to the establishment and operation of a distribution network or to other current expenditure linked to the export activity
  • activities that favour domestic goods over imports
  • activities related to purchasing of road freight transport. For any other activity which involves hire or reward in the road freight transport sector, aid is limited to 100,000 euros over 3 fiscal years

Innovate UK will manage a series of competitions as part of the UKRI COVID-19 programme. Each competition will be open for approximately 4 weeks.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs within the state aid limits described in the funding section
  • be no longer than 18 months in duration
  • be able to be carried out under current restrictions due to COVID-19

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

If the lead organisation is a research and technology organisation it must collaborate with at least 2 businesses.

Academic institutions 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, not-for-profit, 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

For collaborations, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs into the Innovation Funding Service 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 the Innovation Funding Service.

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.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Multiple applications

When a business or RTO 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.

If an RTO is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

An academic institution can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. As this is a fast-track programme, you will not be allowed to apply to a later competition with the same project.

We will not award you funding if you have:

  • to exploit a previously funded project
  • an outstanding independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Previous funded 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.

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.

Funding

There is no fixed budget to fund innovation projects in either strand of this competition:

The research and technology organisations, undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research and technology organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

De minimis

In order to minimise distortion of competition, the European Commission sets limits on how much assistance can be given without its prior approval, to organisations operating in a competitive market. There is a ceiling of 200,000 euros for all de minimis aid provided to any one organisation over a 3 fiscal year period.

You need to declare any de minimis aid awarded to any other public funding body which requests it. You must also keep all documentation associated with the award for 10 years from the date the award is granted.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to address and mitigate the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Your project must:

  • describe the approach you will take and put it in the context of the national response to COVID-19 - international collaboration is permitted, so long as the research is of relevance to the UK
  • explain the level of urgency, and why the activity is important now
  • demonstrate that the proposal has the necessary critical mass to make a difference. Where relevant, demonstrate the strength of links to relevant decision makers
  • demonstrate a clear route to impact within the timescale of the project
  • confirm whether the research requires any access to the health and care system and if so, describe how you will comply with the newly established National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) single, national process for prioritisation of COVID-19 research studies
  • provide evidence that the host institution or business supports the proposal and that the research can be carried out under present institutional or business restriction

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of:

  • technologies
  • markets
  • technological maturities
  • research categories

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of:

  • new research or innovation with a clear impact pathway that has the potential (within the period of the grant) to deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
  • Support for the manufacture or wide scale adoption of an intervention with significant potential
  • gathering critical data and resources quickly for future research use

When we assess the impact of projects, we will take a balanced view between very significant clinical or public health outcomes and market impact.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • projects that directly mitigate the effects of the pandemic on specific institutions and businesses
  • applications that were previously submitted to the UKRI ‘Ideas to address COVID-19’ call but which have been declined.
  • proposals that we deem more appropriate either to other existing funding calls or other research funders
  • longer term research proposals that address the COVID-19 emergency or future pandemics that don't meet the urgency guidelines - these should be submitted through our other competitions
  • projects that involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • projects that involve primary production in agriculture
  • projects not allowed under de minimis regulation restrictions
26 September 2020
Competition opens
9 December 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
26 February 2021
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

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.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Please complete the EDI survey and select yes in the application question. 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.

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.

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. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

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 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. De Minimis declaration (not scored)

Please download the de minimis declaration template. You must complete this declaring any other de minimis aid received during the current and previous 2 fiscal years. You must also keep all documentation relating to this and other de minimis awards for a period of 10 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it. Please write “declaration attached” in the text box.

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 and no larger than 10MB in size. 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
  • (if your project is collaborative) 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. 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

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 and no larger than 10MB in size. 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. 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 subcontractor 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

Extra help

The Knowledge Transfer Network’s (KTN’s) Good Application Guide aims to help you prepare the best application for Innovate UK competitions. This guide has been produced by KTN to supplement the official Innovate UK guidance for applicants. You can also contact KTN for support in finding project partners and providing independent, objective feedback on your application.

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

If you need more information about how to apply, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call 0300 321 4357.

Our phone lines are open from 9am and 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, 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.

Need help with this service? Contact us