Funding competition Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 6

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £3 million to resolve productivity issues by working with the best scientists and research facilities. This funding is from Innovate UK

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Up to £3 million in small collaborative innovation projects will be invested by:

  • Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation
  • the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • the National Measurement Laboratory at LGC (formerly known as the Laboratory of the Government Chemist)
  • the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL)
  • the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The aim of this competition is to match the best UK scientists and cutting-edge facilities with businesses that have analysis or measurement problems.

Your proposal must describe a measurement or analysis problem, that will help improve your businesses productivity or competitiveness and an estimate of the value to your business of solving it.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition stage. No funding is awarded at this stage.

Successful applicants at this EoI stage will be invited to brokerage consultations with relevant analysis for innovators (A4I) partners. These will focus on how to approach solving their problem. They will also work together to propose joint projects to develop solutions.

Successful stage 2 applications will be grant funded, through special drawing rights funding, to work with the relevant funding partner organisations.

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


Project size

The total eligible costs of projects funded in stage two must be no more than £50,000.


Your project

Your project in stage two must:

  • have total eligible costs of up to £50,000
  • start by 1 January 2022
  • end by 31st March 2022
  • last up to 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • involve at least one of the A4I co-funding partner organisations

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your request has not been approved by us you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:


Subcontractors are not allowed in this competition.

Number of applications

A business, can only lead on one application in this round of the competition.

Previous Applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Special Drawing Rights (and De minimis where applicable)

The UK-EU Trade Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has agreed on small funding allowances under the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

These are for awards up to SDR of 325,000 (approximately £335,000) given to a single beneficiary over a rolling 3 fiscal year period.

You must complete and provide Innovate UK with a declaration as part of your response in question 1.

The declaration asks you to tell us about any awards, including those made under De minimis and SDR, (from any source of public funding) over a rolling 3 fiscal year period.

If you have received an award under De minimis for the same period, this will be added to your total allowance under SDR. This means that the total award must not exceed approximately £335,000 (325,000 SDR) for any one organisation. You must declare this allowance to any other funding body who requests it.

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further information

Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance. Or you can see our general guidance on Special Drawing Rights and EU de minimis awards.

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the De minimis rules, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.


We have allocated up to £3 million to fund innovation projects in stage 2 of this competition.

Funding of projects in stage two will be through special drawing rights, covering 100% of eligible costs.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under European Commission De minimis.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to help businesses address their existing analysis and measurement problems. These are problems that are best explored by scientists and cutting-edge facilities available in the UK.

You must outline what you consider to be the benefits of solving your problem, such as improved productivity or competitiveness.

We will only consider problems that:

  • are related to the measurement or analysis of some quantities or properties of an existing process, product or service
  • are not effectively solvable by simple ‘off the shelf’ methods or techniques

You must outline any methods and attempts that you have previously tried to address the problem. Do not propose how the problem should be solved.

Analysis problems cannot be simply software related, for example pure data analysis.

As part of your application, you must include a short video, up to 2 minutes long. This must be uploaded to Vimeo and provided as an unlisted link in your application. If we are unable to view your video or it is not hosted on Vimeo, your application will be made ineligible.

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

Problems we will not address

We will not consider problems that are:

  • not measurement or analysis problems
  • ones we consider to be resolvable with easily available methods, such as those that do not require any innovative or cutting-edge science or facilities
  • solely computer software analysis problems, such as algorithms to analyse objects
  • not related to a company’s existing processes, products or services
  • projects that involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • projects that involve primary production in agriculture
  • projects not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • projects not allowed under Special Drawing Rights (SDR)
  • activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • projects dependent on export performance – for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country.
  • projects that are dependent on domestic inputs usage - for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product.
27 July 2021
Online briefing event: register to attend
29 July 2021
Competition opens
18 August 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
8 September 2021
Invite to partner brokerage sessions
8 September 2021 4:45pm
Applicants notified
10 September 2021
Online partner brokerage sessions: 10 September to 20 September 2021

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 2 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.

Assessment and partner brokerage sessions

After the close of this EoI competition, your application and video will be assessed as follows:

  • Innovate UK will check your organisation’s eligibility
  • Innovate UK will assess whether your application is a measurement or analysis problem (in scope), or not (out of scope)
  • an independent panel of experts will assess whether the problem is solvable using easily available off-the-shelf methods and techniques (out of scope), or whether it requires cutting-edge scientific expertise and facilities (in scope)
  • expert scientists from the 4 A4I partner funding organisations will assess whether they have a potential approach to solving your problem

All assessments will be done in confidence.

Unsuccessful applicants will receive feedback explaining why their problem was not selected.

If your application is successful at this first stage, you will be invited to attend brokerage sessions with one or more A4I funding organisations. The invitations will be issued by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

KTN will arrange the initial confidential partner brokerage sessions between successful applicants and scientists from relevant A4I funding organisations. Follow-on sessions will include working on any joint project proposals to submit to stage 2 of this competition.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

You can invite people from your organisation to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your application a title that refers to the problem being addressed.

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.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead applicant must 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 briefly how your problem is important to your company and be clear about what impact solving the problem in a stage 2 project would have. We use this section to understand how solving the problem would have a positive effect on your business.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your proposal fits the scope of the competition. If your proposal is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your answers to questions 2 to 5 will be evaluated by expert scientists to determine if they can offer any approaches to solving your problem.

Your answers to questions 2 to 4 can be up to 400 words long. Your answer to question 5 can be up to 50 words long.

Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers for questions 1 to 4. Your answer to question 5 must only include the link and password to your video on Vimeo.

Question1. Special Drawing Rights declaration(not evaluated)

Please download the declaration template. You must complete this, declaring any awards, including those made under De minimis and Special Drawing Rights (SDR) subsidies, (from any source of public funding) over a rolling 3 fiscal year period.

You must also keep all documentation relating to this and other De minimis awards for a period of 10 years and be prepared to release it to any public funding body which requests it.

Please write “declaration attached” in the text box.

Question 2: Problem

What is the measurement or analysis problem that you need to solve?

You must summarise:

  • what the core of the problem is as described in your video submission
  • what your major challenges are in understanding this problem
  • any important aspects of the problem that you were unable to show in the video submission

Question 3: Previous attempts to solve the problem

What methods or techniques have you previously tried to solve the problem?

Describe or explain:

  • what you did to understand or address the problem
  • what success or otherwise you had when trying to address the problem

Question 4: Value to your business of solving the problem

What difference will it make to your business if you can solve this problem?

Describe or explain:

  • what you estimate the value of the benefit to be (in £) if this problem is solved
  • how you arrived at this estimate
  • what components contribute to this benefit estimate in terms of productivity and competitiveness gains, such as savings in waste, higher quality products or services, or increased sales or market share

We want to balance helping the most businesses with making the most impact with the money available. Assessors are looking for realistic values here, not necessarily the biggest numbers.

Question 5: Video link and password

You must upload a video to Vimeo that describes or shows the problem you are looking to solve.

It must be no longer than 2 minutes. If your video is over 2 minutes long, only the first 2 minutes will be used to assess your application.

Please ensure your video is ‘unlisted’ in the privacy settings. Give the link and any passwords required in your answer to this question (specifying case-sensitive characters accurately). If we are unable to view your video or it is not hosted on Vimeo your application will be made ineligible. The video must remain available until 15 November 2021.

More information on how to create an unlisted video on Vimeo.

If you cannot upload your video to Vimeo, you must contact at least 5 working days before the competition closes for advice or to ask permission to use an alternative platform.

Background and further information

Analysis for Innovators (A4I) is a very different type of programme from Innovate UK’s usual grant funding competitions. It is focused on helping individual companies solve tricky and perhaps long running technical problems affecting existing processes, products or services.

The programme’s aim is to help boost a company’s productivity or competitiveness. It achieves this by bringing the UK’s top scientists and facilities, often otherwise inaccessible, together with companies to address problems in innovative ways.

The A4I programme has successfully run five times between in 2016 and 2020. This sixth round of the programme builds upon that experience. It focuses on brokering successful relationships between UK companies and the UK’s National Measurement Institutes and grant-funding small follow-on projects to address the problems raised.

Finding a project partner

For advice on the scope of this competition and the supporting partners, you can email the Knowledge Transfer Network A4I team -

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email 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.

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.

Need help with this service? Contact us