Funding competition SBRI Removing air pollutants from homes to safeguard health

Organisations can apply for a share of £3 million, inclusive of VAT, to develop products or services to remove harmful pollutants from homes.

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Competition sections

Description

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund. The aim of the competition is to develop and demonstrate new products or services which will extract harmful pollutants from the air in domestic environments in order to safeguard the health of occupants, particularly young or vulnerable people.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1 and assessment of a separate application into a subsequent phase 2 competition.

Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

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

Funding type

Procurement

Project size

Phase 1 projects to range in size up to total costs of £50,000, inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects are expected to start by 1 April 2021, end by 1 July 2021 and can last up to 3 months.

Applicant

To lead a project, you can:

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

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. 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.

Funding

A total of up to £300,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 1.

Phase 1 feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £50,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 6 projects.

In Phase 2 up to 2 contracts will be awarded to organisations chosen from the successful phase 1 participants. Up to £900,000 inclusive of VAT will be allocated for each contract in phase 2, to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 12 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 are not subject to state aid criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

Your proposal

This competition aims to address the challenge of poor air quality in the home by supporting research and development (R&D) for affordable domestic products or services.

Your solution must be able to protect the health of residents by removing one or more harmful household pollutants from the air in homes. This can include any which have entered the domestic setting from outside.

You may wish to work with academics or health care specialists who can help test and validate the effectiveness of proposed solutions.

This competition is funded as part of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air Programme. Successful projects should be prepared to actively engage throughout the life of their project with the broader programme to share insight and increase the overall impact of the work.

Phase 1: research and development contracts, feasibility study

The first phase involves research and development (R&D) contracts being awarded to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution. A total of up to £300,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this phase.

Feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £50,000, inclusive of VAT. This is for each project for up to 3 months.

We expect to fund up to 6 projects. The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

We welcome bids from a single entity that brings together sector specialists as sub-contractors to support their project.

In phase 1 you must:

  • demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed innovation
  • develop the plan and lay the foundations to deliver in phase 2
  • establish collaborations and agreements which will enable testing of the innovation 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.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on extracting one type of pollutant, or a range of specified pollutants, if there is a well-established case demonstrating the hazard to human health from that pollutant.

Research categories

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.

In phase 1 the supplier will work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution.

The focus of phase 2 will be to test and evaluate a prototype of the solution in a real world environment and develop a plan for commercial exploitation.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • prevent the release of pollutants rather than extracting them from the atmosphere
  • focus on extracting pollutants which have no demonstrated health impact
  • generate more harmful pollutants than are removed
  • result in a significant negative overall environmental impact

23 November 2020
Competition opens
1 December 2020
Applicant briefing webinar: view here
13 January 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
5 March 2021
Applicants notified
30 March 2021
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 contract is binding once the contract is returned by the applicant and signed by both parties. The terms and conditions included in the draft contract should not substantially change.

When you start an application on the Innovation Funding Service 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 to contribute to the application.

What happens next

A selected panel of assessors will review and score your application and the winners of phase 1 contracts will be selected. All applicants will be provided feedback.

For phase 2 they can also take into account the phase 1 end-of-phase report. They might ask a number of finalists to attend an interview or give a demonstration.

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.

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.

Who made you aware of the competition?

Select a category to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.

How long has your organisation been established for?

Select an option to state how long has your organisation been established for. You cannot choose more than one.

What is your organisation’s primary area focus?

Select a category to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.

Project summary

Please provide a short summary of your project and describe how it meets the scope of the competition.

Describe your project briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative and how it relates to the scope of the competition. How does it tackle different aspects of the challenge and how will it provide an integrated solution?

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 you have named as subcontractors.

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.

Question 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?’

Question 2. Technical project summary

Give a short background to the main technical challenges you are looking to address. Describe or explain:

  • how you will address the challenge
  • what the innovation is
  • the main technical deliverables
  • the research and development that will prove the scientific, environmental, and commercial merit of the project
  • what might be achieved by deploying the innovation to address the selected challenge

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

Question 3. Current state of the art and intellectual property

Detail other products currently available on the market and how the innovation of your proposed project differentiates itself from them.

Include details of:

  • any existing intellectual property (IP)
  • 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?’

Question 4. Project plan and methodology

Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones.

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.

You should describe or explain:

  • what resources will be needed to deliver the project
  • what the main success criteria would be
  • the identified project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones
  • the main technical, commercial and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them
  • how you would handle any IP issues which might arise during the project

Indicate your required payment schedule by month.

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. Allow for the preparation of a detailed plan for phase 2, towards the end of phase 1

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. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Download and complete the milestone template.

Your milestones must be:

  • clear
  • defined using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) criteria
  • associated with the appropriate deliverables and payments

Once you have completed the milestone template it must be uploaded in a PDF format to this question. 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?’

Question 5. Technical team and expertise

Provide a brief description of your technical team. Include the expertise of each team member or subcontractor that is relevant to your application, outlining why they are critical to the project’s success 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?’

Question 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, inclusive of VAT, you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer

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.

You will be asked if you are VAT registered before entering your project costs. If you are a VAT registered organisation you will not need to enter your costs inclusive of VAT as the application form will calculate the VAT for you.

Total cost must include VAT. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications must list total costs inclusive of VAT. If you are not VAT registered, 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. Proposed costs stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.

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.

Focus on your proposed customer’s needs but you may also mention the future commercial potential across the public or private sector and the international market.

How far is the challenge you are addressing shared across the public and/or private sector in the UK and further afield? 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 a clear commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service and a clear plan to deliver that and a clear route to market? How significant is the competitive advantage of this technology over existing technologies that meet the market’s needs?’

3. Finances

Enter your phase 1 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.

Broader Information

Poor air quality is the top environmental risk to public health in the UK. The next decade will see declining transport pollution but increases in other areas. Human exposure to these emerging air pollutants occurs increasingly indoors, particularly at home. The Government’s Clean Air Strategy highlights the significance of emissions in the home, and studies such as The Inside Story explores the health impact in young people.

This competition is funded through the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), which has been set up to build upon the vision of a ‘common research fund’ set out in Sir Paul Nurse’s independent review of the Research Councils.

The fund will drive an increase in high-quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation, ensure that UKRI’s investment links up effectively with Government departments’ research priorities and opportunities, and ensure that the system is able to respond to strategic priorities and opportunities.

A related innovation competition focused around monitoring and visualising domestic pollution to safeguard health was launched earlier this year.

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 accountable 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 accountable 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.

Contact us

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 to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone. We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process.
You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

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