Funding competition Commercialising Quantum Technologies: feasibility studies round 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £7 million for feasibility studies or market research projects. This funding is from ISCF.

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Competition sections

Description

The aim of the competition is to advance the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK. This funding is from ISCF.

This advance is achieved through the investment of up to £7 million in innovation projects which address one or more of the following technical challenges:

  • connectivity
  • situational awareness
  • computing


Your proposal must identify a clear market opportunity and an innovative project which exploits it.

Your project must:

  • exploit second generation quantum techniques
  • demonstrate how the technology will contribute towards the commercialisation of quantum technologies in or from the UK
  • outline the investment from industry that you will generate

Applications can be single or collaborative and must be led by a business. All applications must include a micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME).

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 feasibility study project’s total eligible costs can be up to £500,000. If your project is market research, its total eligible costs can be up to £50,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs up to £500,000 for feasibility studies
  • have total eligible costs up to £50,000 for market research projects
  • start by 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 July 2023
  • last from 12 to 18 months

Projects can be single or collaborative but must involve a micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME), either as the lead or a partner.

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 or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • involve an SME
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You can collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.


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

If a collaboration, 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

Any one business can lead up to 3 applications, but all applicants can partner in 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:

Subsidy control

(Text update: 18 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

We have allocated up to £7 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 feasibility studies and market 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 50% 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

The aim of the competition is to advance the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK. Your proposal must identify a clear market opportunity and an innovative project which exploits it.

The project must:

  • study a commercial opportunity
  • quantify performance objectives
  • provide a roadmap of future exploitation
  • exploit second generation quantum techniques

Second generation quantum technologies are defined as those involving the generation and coherent control of quantum states, resulting in phenomena such as superposition or entanglement. We consider technologies involving single photon generation and quantum computing to be in scope.

You must describe how you will collect project metrics, including:

  • investment in addition to the project partner matched funding
  • additional capital investment aligned to or dependent on the project outcomes

Your project must address at least one of the following:

  1. Connectivity: techniques for securing data in storage and in flight.
  2. Situational Awareness: Autonomous systems. Sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure. Imaging and sensing “seeing things currently invisible”.
  3. Computing: Transformational computers for solving currently intractable problems.

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

We will consider funding market research proposals to explore a unique commercial opportunity in quantum technologies.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • involve consortia which span the supply chain of component suppliers, system integrators, and end user businesses
  • focus on maximising UK return from the quantum technology research undertaken by the UK academic base
  • bring significant new investment and businesses into the UK’s growing quantum technologies sector
  • develop the quantum computing industry sector (hardware, components, simulators, algorithms and software) in the UK

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding: projects that do not exploit second generation quantum techniques.
18 January 2021
Register for online briefing event
18 January 2021
Competition opens
10 March 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
30 April 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 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. 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 in size 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
  • (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 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 in size 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, considering 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 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, no larger than 10MB in size 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
  • what industry investment, in addition to the competition matched funding, would this project generate, in what time-frame, and how this will be evaluated

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

This competition is funded through the Quantum Commercialisation programme of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and builds on the pioneer ‘Commercialising quantum devices: innovation R&D’ competition launched in April 2018. It forms part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

There are three competition strands in Quantum ISCF collaborative projects round 2:

  1. Feasibility studies R2 (this strand).
  2. Germinator projects.
  3. CR&D and Tech 2.

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).

Christmas and new year closing dates: please note that Innovate UK will be closed for the Christmas break from 24 December to 3 January inclusive. We will reopen on Monday 4 January.

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