Funding competition NATEP: helping SMEs innovate in aerospace Autumn 2020

UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million for industry led civil aerospace research projects.

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Competition sections

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is working with the Aerospace Technology Institute and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Up to £10 million will be invested in NATEP (National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme) for aerospace innovation projects as part of the ATI programme. In this competition we are investing up to £2.5 million.

The aim of this competition is to provide help for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative aerospace technologies. These will enhance your capabilities and increase your ability to win new business.

Your proposal must align with the priorities stated in the UK Aerospace technology strategy, Accelerating Ambition. Your proposal will be subject to:

  1. Independent assessment by Innovate UK.
  2. Value for money (VfM) and policy review by BEIS.
  3. Strategic review by the Aerospace Technology Institute.

This competition is the third of 4 rounds. The last round is scheduled for spring 2021.

If you are successful, Innovate UK will perform financial viability and eligibility checks. Final approvals are issued by BEIS. You will be contracted by Innovate UK.

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

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £300,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK registered 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 the state aid section of the Innovate UK general guidance.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UiD). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, we will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UiD on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UiD between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021.

We will ask for evidence of this.

Your project

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £300,000.

Your project must:

  • be collaborative
  • be led by a UK registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • start by 1 May 2021
  • end by 31 October 2022

They can last between 12 and 18 months.

If your organisation is a UK registered business, or a research and technology organisation (RTO) participating as a business, you must show in your answer you can provide match funding from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

We primarily expect to fund businesses that are new to research and development (R&D) or are restarting R&D activity.

Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations, large businesses and RTOs cannot lead.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead 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
  • sign up to the Aerospace Technology Institute framework agreement

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding and enter their costs into the Innovation Funding Service as part of the application.

Each partner must be invited into the service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account. All partners claiming funding must enter their own eligible project costs.

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. Their costs must be listed in your answer to Question 9, not the finance section.

If you are a UK registered RTO participating as a business (undertaking economic activities), you must also show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.

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. We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any eligible UK registered business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications. All other organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

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


Previously 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

The ATI Programme has allocated up to £2.5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

No one project partner can be responsible for more than 70% of the total eligible project costs.

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.

If you are acting economically you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

UK registered large businesses in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one large business, this maximum will be shared between them.

If you are undertaking non-economic activities, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 80% full economic costing (FEC) for academics under the terms of Je-S
  • up to 100% if you are a non-profit research and technology organisation, public sector organisation or charity acting non-economically for the purpose of this project

The UK registered research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activities can share up to 30% of the total project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Academics must enter 80% of their full economic costs (FEC) into their application to match the costs on their Je-S form.

Funding article

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.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help SMEs to develop their own innovative technologies. These should enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business in the civil aerospace sector.

Your project must have a credible route to market and preferably have identified your end users. Your project should:

  • demonstrate improvement in business productivity and competitiveness
  • show clear benefit technically
  • be able to pull through new technology or processes for use in a current or future product or manufacturing process
  • show clear benefit in creating or safeguarding jobs
  • be able to enhance capabilities within the broader aerospace industry, as well as other sectors such as advanced manufacturing

We want to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities.

Specific themes

Your project must have a potential application within the civil aerospace sector. This can include dual use technologies.

Your proposal must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’, which is split into these areas:

  • vehicles: strengthening the UK’s whole-aircraft design and system integration capability, and positioning it for future generations of civil aircraft
  • advanced systems: developing UK advanced systems technologies to capture high-value opportunities in current and future aircraft
  • aerostructures: ensuring the UK is a global leader in the development of large complex structures, particularly wings
  • propulsion and power: advancing a new generation of more efficient propulsion technologies, particularly large turbofans
  • cross-cutting enablers: developing high value design capabilities, advanced materials, manufacturing and assembly, and advanced through-life engineering technologies

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects:

  • that focus solely on defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual use technologies providing the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • that focus on fundamental research, feasibility studies or experimental development
  • with scope outside of the UK aerospace technology strategy

5 October 2020
Competition opens
21 October 2020
Recorded online briefing event
18 November 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
22 January 2021
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

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

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. 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?

Equality, diversity and inclusion

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 then select yes in the application question. 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.

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 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, 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. If we do not award your project funding, we may still share this description and your contact details with relevant third parties, for example the Aerospace Technology Institute and the NATEP office.

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 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 Innovate UK assessors will score your answers and you will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your application will also be assessed by BEIS and the Aerospace Technology Institute and their feedback will be provided separately.

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

Question 1. Business opportunity

What is the business opportunity that your project addresses?

Describe:

  • 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 a single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long 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?

Describe:

  • the details of the target market, including the size, margins, market leaders, main 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
  • plans for end user or 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 single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long 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 intellectual property (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 can submit a table to show your technology progression in a single PDF appendix no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. It must be legible at 100% zoom.

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 the 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

You can upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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?

You can submit a single appendix describing the skills and experience of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Costs

What will your project cost?

Give, along with supporting evidence:

  • the total project costs and level of grant funding you are requesting
  • justification for large project expenditure, and any significant costs such as subcontractors
  • reassurance that the budget is realistic for the scale and complexity of the project
  • a statement that funding is within the limits set by this competition
  • a list of any other sources of funding outside of the programme, and explain why they are needed
  • a realistic budget breakdown, including a funding profile and timeline
  • a description, justification and costing of individual work packages

If you have an unfunded partner or partners that are not eligible for funding, you must include their costs in your answer here and not in the finance section.

Question 10. Added value to the UK

How does financial support from NATEP 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 if the application for funding is not successful? In particular say whether:

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

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

You can submit a single appendix in a PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 5 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

3. Finances

Each organisation claiming grant funding in your project must complete its own project costs, organisation details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

NATEP is funded by the ATI Programme. It supports companies in the aerospace supply chain to develop innovative technologies, working in collaboration with others and supported by higher tier companies. It equips them to win new business with existing customers and to diversify their customer base.

As well as grant funding, NATEP projects can get free access to a high calibre Technical Manager. They will help companies accelerate their technology development towards market readiness. NATEP projects are exempt from paying the industrial contribution to The Aerospace Technology Institute.

The ATI Programme represents a £3.9 billion joint government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace.

This programme is co-ordinated and managed by:

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation
  • the Aerospace Technology Institute

We work in collaboration to deliver a portfolio of projects to meet the objectives of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’.

Extra help

We recommend you contact the NATEP office before you submit your application as a NATEP Technology Manager may be able to give advice about your application. The NATEP office can also provide help finding a partner. Call 020 7091 4543, email info@natep.org.uk or visit their website.

Enterprise Europe Network

Upon award you will be contacted by your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Innovation Adviser, acting on behalf of Innovate UK, who will discuss the growth opportunities for your business and 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 to grow and scale. It is only available to SMEs. Please engage positively with your EEN contact so that, working together, you can determine the most appropriate form of growth support for your business.

Contact us

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

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