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Funding competition December sector competition: Open

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £19 million to deliver game changing or disruptive innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.

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Summary

Description

This competition is open to the best business-led cutting-edge or disruptive ideas or concepts with a view to commercialisation.

These can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and apply to any part of the economy.

They can fit into, or be outside of, any one or more of Innovate UK’s 4 priority sectors for growth.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTPs) applications are welcome. There is a further £14 million of funding available for KTP applications.

Where appropriate, we will share application details with other potential public sector co-funders.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Total eligible project costs must be within the range £25,000 to £1,000,000. Projects may last between 6 and 36 months.

Eligibility

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-based business
  • be a business of any size
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work alone or in collaboration with others (businesses, research base and third sector)

If your project has total eligible costs or duration outside the specified range or duration it will be deemed out of scope and ineligible.

An applicant can only submit one project application per competition round. If more than one application per round is submitted, only the first application will be considered for assessment.

Academics cannot lead on an application but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Resubmissions

If Innovate UK judge that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you may reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. You can reapply into another round of this competition or another competition. In other words, you can make a maximum of 2 applications in total with any proposal.

Projects that we won't fund

We will not fund proposals that:

  • do not meet the competition scope
  • do not meet the size, potential for, and access to the market for the innovation
  • cannot present evidence that their idea or concept has the potential to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business
  • have a current project funded through the Smart programme that will not have its project completion meeting before the close date for this competition

Funding and project details

The government has launched an ambitious Industrial Strategy. The strategy sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people across the UK.

To address the challenges raised by the strategy, we have allocated up to £19 million to fund innovation projects in this Open sector competition.

Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs.

The percentage of costs that we pay through a grant varies. It depends on the type of research being carried out and size and type of organisation involved.

Projects can focus on:

  • feasibility studies which may include market research
  • industrial research
  • experimental development depending on the challenge identified and proposed solution

For feasibility studies (which may include market research) and industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Projects may last between 6 and 36 months. Total eligible project costs should range from £25,000 to £1 million depending on the type of R&D to be undertaken, with value for money always a consideration.

A further £14 million is available to fund Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

Scope

Competition scope

To be in scope, a proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea leading to novel, new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others in the field
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible following project completion

Priority will be given to proposals that are likely to lead to sustainable gains in productivity or access to new overseas markets through export led business growth.

We provide funding for innovation-based enterprises. Such enterprises should demonstrate their readiness to deliver a project leading to new, highly innovative processes, products or services

Competition demand is likely to be very high. Only those proposals with clear cutting-edge, game changing innovation which demonstrate the most robust business plans and highest potential for return on investment and impact are likely to be funded

You will be competing against proposals for some of the most advanced, cutting edge innovations in the UK and beyond. You need to ensure this is the right competition for your business model, and that your proposal is right for Open.

Vision and aims

We know that true innovation disrupts. It will create new products, services and industries that we don’t even know about yet.

It’s our vision to help the UK economy grow over and above other nations by inspiring and supporting pioneering UK businesses to create the industries of the future.

The Open competition provides support for businesses to undertake an innovative project and is designed to:

  • help businesses overcome barriers to innovation
  • reduce the risk financially and technically in developing an innovative idea or concept for commercialisation and scale up
  • enable businesses to address high-growth opportunities if their concept doesn’t fit one of the Innovate UK sectors or has multiple themes with differing scopes
  • speed up the journey from an idea to commercialisation where timing can make all the difference to prospects
  • position businesses to be able to access private investment to support their innovative ideas
  • provide crucial support for businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth, to develop highly innovative products, processes or services that demonstrate considerable opportunity for commercialisation and scale up, preferably with access to global markets

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

As part of this competition we welcome applications for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

KTPs link companies with an academic or research organisation and a graduate. Please note that this is completely separate from the Open sector application. KTP applications should follow the specific guidance for KTPs.

KTP applicants are subject to the same competition deadlines.

Dates

11 December 2017
Competition opens
14 December 2017
Online briefing webinar.
28 February 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
25 May 2018
Applicants notified

How to apply

Before you start

To start an application you must create an account as the lead applicant, or sign in as a representative of your organisation. Once you have an account you can track the progress of your application.

As a lead applicant:

  • you are responsible for collecting the information for your funding application
  • you can invite other organisations who will participate in the project as collaborators if your application is successful
  • you can invite colleagues to contribute to the application
  • your organisation will lead the project if your application is successful

Partner organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

Research organisations

Research organisations may participate in applications as collaborators.

There are specific rules for research partners which limit the amount of involvement research organisations may have in your project. This is limited to a maximum of 30% of total eligible project costs, as collaborator or subcontractor.

The participation rule will be set out in the eligibility criteria for the competition.

Your application will not be funded if the total research participation in your project, in whatever capacity, is over 30% of total eligible project costs.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details
  2. Application questions
  3. Finances

1. Project details

In this section you will provide the details of your project. This section is not scored, but our assessors will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t fit the scope then it will be immediately rejected. Within project details you will need to complete:

Application details

The title of your project, the start date and project length. This section will also list you as the lead organisation and any partner organisations you have named as collaborators. The lead applicant must complete this section.

Project summary

Describe your project and what is innovative about it. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application so we need a summary of the innovation in your project.

Public description

Describe your project in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If your project is successful and awarded funding, Innovate UK will publish this description.

Project 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 and will not be sent for assessment. Innovate UK will provide feedback if we decide that your project is not in scope.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by the assessors. Following assessment, you will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1: Need or challenge

What is the business need, citizen challenge, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

  • describe the main motivation for the project; the business need, the citizen-centric challenge (for Urban Living proposals), technological challenge or market opportunity
  • describe the nearest current state-of-the-art (including those near-market or in development) and its limitations
  • describe any work you have already done to respond to this need. For example is the project focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one?
  • identify the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity for example, incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help here

Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

  • explain how you propose to respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • explain how it will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • indicate where the focus of the innovation will be in the project (application of existing technologies in new areas, development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach) and the freedom you have to operate
  • explain how this project fits with your current product/service lines/offerings
  • explain how it will make you more competitive
  • describe the nature of the outputs you expect from the project for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design. How will these will take you closer to targeting the need, challenge or opportunity identified?

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB and up to 2 pages in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

  • describe the roles, skills and relevant experience of all members of the project team in relation to the approach you will be taking
  • describe the resources, equipment and facilities required for the project and how you will access them
  • provide details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • (if collaborative) describe the current relationships between the project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • highlight any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB and up to 4 pages in size to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Specify the markets (domestic and/or international) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets.

For the target markets, describe:

  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by appropriate references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the market such as customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the main supply/value chains and business models in operation and any barriers to entry
  • the current UK position in targeting this market
For highly innovative projects, where the market may be unexplored, explain:
  • what the route to market could or might be
  • what its size might be
  • how the project will seek to explore the market potential

For other markets, briefly describe the size and main features

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How do you propose to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

  • describe your current position in the markets and supply/value chains outlined for example, if you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • describe your target customers and/or end-users, and the value proposition to them (why would they use/buy it?)
  • describe your route to market
  • tell us how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • explain how the innovation will impact your productivity and growth in the short and long-term
  • describe how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project for example, through know-how, patenting, designs, changes to business model
  • outline your strategy for targeting the other markets identified during or after the project
  • for any research organisation activity in the project, outline your plans to disseminate project research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • if you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities, describe how you will do this

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Identify, and where possible measure, the economic benefits from the project to those outside the project (customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy) such as productivity increases and import substitution.

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected social impacts, either positive or negative, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion/exclusion
  • jobs (safeguarded, created, changed, displaced)
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity
  • any expected impact on government priorities

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative.

Identify any expected regional impacts of the project.

Question 7: Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

  • outline the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category and lead partner assigned to each, and the total cost of each one
  • describe your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure a successful project outcome. Highlight your approach to managing the most innovative aspects of the project
  • outline the management reporting lines
  • outline your project plan in sufficient detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You may upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size and up to 2 pages long.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

  • identify the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks. Highlight the most significant ones, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • explain how these risks will be mitigated
  • list any project inputs on the critical route to completion such as resources, expertise or data sets
  • is the output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical or other similar issues? If so how will you manage this?

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size and up to 2 pages long.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

  • tell us if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make such as faster to market, more partners, reduced risk
  • describe the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • tell us why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding (what would happen if the application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of research and development activity the partners would undertake, and 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?

  • justify the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • explain how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • explain how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer. How does it compare to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • justify the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • justify any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

Finances

The finances section asks each organisation to complete project costs, organisational details and funding details for each organisation in your project. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Supporting information

Background and further information

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

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at support@innovateuk.gov.uk.

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