Funding competition ISCF Transforming Foundation Industry - Small scale R&D - Strand 1

UK registered SME’s can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million for small scale R&D projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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Competition sections

Description

The Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) Challenge fund will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £1.5 million in innovation projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).Projects must address the resource productivity or energy performance opportunities of the sector and its supply chains.

The aim of this competition is to improve the competitiveness of our Foundation Industry sector by helping it to become more environmentally sustainable.

Your proposal must focus on the development of new:

  • markets
  • business models
  • products and services manufactured by the sector
  • products and services created by suppliers to the sector
  • processes

This competition is split into 2 strands, these are:

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 £25,000 and £75,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £75,000
  • start on 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 January 2023
  • last between 3 and 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project’s 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. If you have not requested approval or your application 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 or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered SME business.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.


Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not-for-profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

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.

If collaborating the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

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.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

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


Number of applications

An SME can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications across both strands of this competition.

An organisation not leading a project can collaborate on 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 (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

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


Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

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.

Funding

We have allocated up to £1.5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is 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 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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

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 State aid.

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

Research participation

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.
Off that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-s registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to improve the competitiveness of our Foundation Industry sector by helping it to become more environmentally sustainable.

Your project must address the resource productivity or energy performance opportunities of the sector and its supply chains.

Your project must focus on the development of new:

  • markets
  • business models
  • products and services manufactured by the sector
  • products and services created by suppliers to the sector
  • processes
Text update [20 August 2021]: we have added additional guidance to confirm projects do not need to be cross sector.
Projects do not need to be cross-sector, but should be able to demonstrate that the technology could be adapted to other sectors in the future.

We want to fund a portfolio of projects, across the two strands of this competition to include a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities, research categories and sectors.

Specific themes

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

  • energy costs and optimisation such as heat or energy recovery and reuse
  • process measurement, optimisation and digitisation, such as sensor technology or digital tools
  • waste recycling, utilisation and symbiosis, such as reuse of waste or industrial symbiosis

This list is not exhaustive, and other technologies or projects that clearly fall within scope of the challenge will be welcomed.

Research categories

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

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • focus on fuel switching or greenhouse gas capture technology
  • do not focus on foundation industries and their immediate supply chains
  • respond only to the skills needs of foundation industries
  • are capital or infrastructure projects
  • have total eligible project costs of below £25,000 or above £75,000
  • are dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

16 August 2021
Competition opens
17 August 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
29 September 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
22 November 2021
Interviews start
26 November 2021
Interviews end
10 December 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.

Interviews

Following the assessment of your online application, we may invite you to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. We will let you know whether your interview will take place either online or at a designated location.

Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 3 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 10 minutes
  • have no more than 10 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to 10 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams

Interview

After your presentation the panel will spend up to 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

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.

Subsidy Basis

Will the project, including any related activities, you want Innovate UK to fund, affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU?

All participants must complete this section.

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.

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 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 tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 2 to5, question 1 is not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 500 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

If you are working in collaboration, you must also state the name and full registered address of all your partners.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 2. Your project

How does your project address the opportunity?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project, for example a business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project, and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how this technology could be adapted to other sectors in the future

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Project delivery

What approach will you take to deliver the project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and its total cost
  • 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
  • your approach to project management
  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project
  • 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
  • if relevant, the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart and a risk register as one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, can be up to 3 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

You can submit an additional appendix describing the skills and experience of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long and up to 10 MB file size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom

Question 4. Market awareness and route to market

What is the market and how will you address it?

Describe or explain:

  • what does the market you are targeting look like, including the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • if there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • your target customers or end users, and the value of your project outcomes 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

Question 5. Costs and value for money

What does the project cost and why is it value for money?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs in terms of the project goals
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to the project
  • a high-level breakdown and partner allocation for the required resources and associated costs
  • the size of your project, the total eligible costs and the anticipated grant request
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners

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.

Finding a project partner

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

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 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.

Need help with this service? Contact us