Funding competition ISCF TFI: large collaborative R&D projects

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £8 million for research and development projects to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK foundation industries. 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 investing up to £8 million for collaborative cross-sector, research and development projects.

The aim of this competition is to improve the productivity and competitiveness of foundation industry companies and supply chains, by funding cross-sector collaborative research and development projects.

Your project must work on resource and energy efficiency challenges common to 2 or more of the foundation industries.

The foundation industries sectors include:

  • cement
  • paper
  • glass
  • ceramics
  • metals
  • chemicals

Your project must:

  • further develop technologies to reduce deployment risk and accelerate take-up across industries
  • develop new technologies that, when deployed, would create a step-change in resource or energy efficiency in these industries

Your project must be designed to help the UK’s foundation industries remain competitive.


In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process. This 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 £2 million.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £2 million
  • start by 1 September 2021
  • last between 12 and 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 prior to the competition closing date.

Project lead

Your organisation must:


You do not need to be in the foundation industries to lead a consortium but you must include at least 2 businesses of any size, from at least 2 foundation industry sectors.

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses of any size.

Academic institutions cannot lead a project.

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
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. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and 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.

We expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of 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 can use a previously unsuccessful application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:



Subsidy control

(Text update: 11 Jan 2021. We have added information about subsidy control following the UK's exit from the EU.)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control.

It is your responsibility to make sure your organisation is eligible to receive this funding.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will request evidence to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

Upon confirmation by Innovate UK of your award, any UK registered organisations claiming funding must be eligible to receive the award. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance.

If you are unsure about the regulations and your obligations, please take legal advice.

You must ensure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with any legislation applicable in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 2021. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom and/or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes within the above requirements that would necessitate changing the terms of this competition, we will inform you as soon as possible.

Funding

ISCF have allocated up to £8 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Your proposal

This competition aims to bring foundation industry sector businesses together with their immediate supply chain and equipment providers. Together they will work on common resource and energy efficiency challenges.

It will fund cross-sector and collaborative research and development projects which:

  • further develop technologies to reduce deployment risk and accelerate take-up across industries
  • develop new technologies that, when deployed, would create a step-change in resource or energy efficiency in these industries


The foundation industries sectors include:

  • cement
  • paper
  • glass
  • ceramics
  • metals
  • chemicals

Your project must be aimed at improving the productivity and competitiveness of foundation industry companies and their immediate supply chain.

Your project must address one or more resource or energy efficiency challenges that are common to more than one of the six foundation industries sectors.

Your project can focus on any part of the manufacturing process, including:

  • inputs in materials and other feedstocks
  • development of new materials
  • process efficiency (for example heat recovery, waste utilisation)
  • business model development

Your application can build upon innovations developed in earlier Transforming Foundation Industry competitions, including:

We want to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of sectors, technologies, risks, and markets.

Specific themes

Your project must address one or more of these themes:

  • heat recovery and utilisation
  • sensors, controls and digitalisation
  • waste utilisation and symbiosis
  • other energy or resource efficiency improvements (business model, process, product or supply chain)

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:

  • do not focus on foundation industries and their immediate supply chains
  • are undertaking feasibility studies or experimental development
  • focus on fuel switching or greenhouse gas capture technology
  • focus solely on skills
  • are capital or infrastructure projects

11 January 2021
Competition opens
13 January 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
10 March 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
3 May 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.

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.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

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.

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 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. 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. 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 2. 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, no larger than 10MB and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. 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, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, 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 taking into account the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the team structure

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, no larger than 10MB and can be up to 4 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. 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 5. 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, particularly if COVID-19 has changed market dynamics
  • 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 6. 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 7. 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, taking into account the possible impact of further COVID-19 restrictions

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. 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
  • 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, no larger than 10MB and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. 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 10. 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

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.

Finding a project partner

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

Help for SMEs from the 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