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Funding opportunities and competitions

A range of funding opportunities and competitions are available through Innovate UK, the Small Business Research Initiative and Horizon 2020.

Innovate UK and UKRI funding

£98m Healthy Ageing Challenge 
As part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Healthy Ageing Challenge asks industry and researchers to develop products and services to support an ageing society. Up to £98 million will be invested in research and innovation that supports people as they age. Over the coming years, there will be a series of opportunities for UK-based businesses and researchers. Find out more >>

Commercialising quantum technology: technology projects (Closing date: 5 February 2020)
UK businesses can express an interest in applying for a share of up to £30 million to collaborate on quantum technology development projects. Find out more >>

ISCF transforming foundation industries: fast start projects (Closing date: 5 February 2020)
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of £5 million for fast start projects to improve the resource and energy efficiency of foundation industries. Find out more >>

Eureka Eurostars 2: round 13 (Closing date: 13 February 2020)
UK SMEs can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million to collaborate in research with partners across Europe and associated countries. Find out more >>

ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: demonstrator projects (Closing date: 19 February 2020)
UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £12 million for practical demonstrator projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. Find out more >>

ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: feasibility studies for demonstrators (Closing date: 19 February 2020)
UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £700,000 to develop proposals for practical demonstrator projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. Find out more >>

ISCF TFP science and technology into practice: feasibility studies (Closing date: 26 February 2020)
Apply for between £75,000 and £250,000 to test the feasibility of solutions that can transform food production and help the industry move towards net zero emissions by 2040. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Find out more >>

ISCF TFP science and technology into practice: demonstration (Closing date: 26 February 2020)
Apply for between £400,000 and £4 million to demonstrate solutions that can transform food production and help the industry move towards net zero emissions by 2040. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Find out more >>

UK-Israel open collaborative R&D competition 2019 (Closing date: 26 February 2020)
UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million to develop innovative technologies targeting global markets in partnership with Israeli companies. Find out more >>

APC 15: developing the UK’s low carbon automotive capability (Closing date: 4 March 2020)
UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £30 million for UK-developed late stage R&D, to support growth in advanced low carbon propulsion capability in the automotive sector. Find out more >>

ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: feasibility studies and industrial research (Closing date: 1 April 2020)
UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million for early-stage projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Find out more >>

Innovate UK Smart Grants: January 2020 (Closing date: 22 April 2020)
Opportunity to apply for a share of up to £25 million to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations that can make a significant impact on the UK economy. Find out more >>

UK-Canada: enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability (Closing date: 20 May 2020)
UK businesses with Canadian business partners can apply for a share of up to £2 million, from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, for innovative projects that enhance productivity and sustainability of crop, livestock and aquaculture systems. Find out more >>


SBRI funding competitions

The Small Business Research Initiative supports a range of competitions with public sector organisations and departments.

SBRI: innovation in automated survey processing for railway structure gauging, phase 1 (Closing date: 29 January 2020)
Businesses can apply for a share of £720,000, plus VAT, to develop a demonstrator for automated railway structure gauging processing. Find out more >>

SBRI: innovation in railway platform end and edge technology (Closing date: 29 January 2020)
Opportunity for businesses to apply for a share of £1.08 million, plus VAT, to develop solutions to detect and deter trespass at railway platform ends and edges. Find out more >>

SBRI rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020 (Closing date: 11 March 2020)
Businesses from the UK, EU or EEA can apply for a share of up to £9.4 million, including VAT, to develop demonstrators for sustainability, customer experience, operations or maintenance. Find out more >>


Horizon 2020 funding

There are also opportunities for funding through the Horizon 2020 programme which focuses on European projects in research and innovation.


Other funding

NI Open Data Fund (Closing date: 7 February 2020)
The NI Department of Finance has opened a £30,000 Innovation and Outreach Fund to encourage the use of open data. Awards of between £300 and up to £5,000 are available to fund the development of apps or other interactive visualisations that make innovative use of data on the Open Data NI portal. Find out more >>

Invest NI Innovation Vouchers
What could a £5,000 Innovation Voucher do for your business? An Innovation Voucher provides funding to small and medium sized businesses to work with an expert Knowledge Provider from a university, college or other public sector research body bringing new knowledge to help businesses innovate, develop and grow.


More information

Find out more about funding opportunities on the Innovate UK website and Invest NI website.


A small team of office workers at a desk, one laptop is open on emails

Innovate UK Domestic Missions - Expression of Interest

Innovate UK is looking for innovative SMEs in Mobility, Sustainability or Housing to start conversations with UK Local Authorities about the part innovative tech can play in addressing these challenges.

Events will take place across five UK cities - Bristol, Nottingham, Exeter, Cardiff and Derry.

Innovate UK's Domestic Missions pilot programme aims to encourage UK Local Authorities and SMEs to share learning and insights about the nature of urban challenges and the potential benefits of new technology, products and services. Experts will also be on hand to present information about local government procurement processes, and routes to access funding to develop and test innovative technologies.

Please register your interest if you would like to take part in the programme.  If you're selected, Innovate UK will invite you to kick-off events in the cities mentioned above.

Key themes

Here's a taster of the sorts of capabilities they're looking for:

Climate change and renewable energy
Technologies in the renewable energy sector, particularly relating to retrofitting, waste management and reducing city users’ CO2 emissions.

Housing and homelessness
Innovations centred around homelessness and affordable housing solutions.

Smart grid
Smart grid technologies suitable for a city environment.

Cars - parking and electric vehicles
Technologies around electric vehicles, and also car parking in city centres.

Live music
Innovators who have technologies related to live performances and promotion of city events.

Sourcing food locally
Technologies that can encourage the sustainable sourcing of local produce.

More information

  • Successful SMEs expressing an interest will be invited to a business preparation workshop and then to participate in events in the suitable city or cities. You must commit to both of these elements.
  • Expressions of interest are welcome from SMEs anywhere in the UK. If you are local to any of the cities mentioned above, that is great, but will not guarantee selection to take part in the pilot events.
  • Selection will be based on suitability of an SME to address a need, to learn from the experience, and to help the city authorities understand the potential of innovative technologies to address their challenges. At this stage this is not an opportunity to pitch or sell a specific solution, but is rather a chance to learn more about city challenges and to help authorities see how innovative technology might have a role to play in solving those challenges.
  • If you are selected, Innovate UK will reimburse your (standard class) travel costs to attend the event.

Open Data Fund

Open Data Fund - £30,000 funding available

The Department of Finance has opened a £30,000 Innovation and Outreach Fund to encourage the use of open data.

Awards of between £300 and up to £5,000 are available to fund the development of apps or other interactive visualisations that make innovative use of data on the Open Data NI portal.

Organisations and individuals hosting engagement activities including hackathons, workshops, seminars or events that will raise awareness of open data will also be eligible to apply to the fund.

Opening up public sector data has the potential to provide commercial opportunities and drive economic growth and innovation. This fund will encourage creative re-use of the growing number of public sector datasets available on the Open Data NI Portal and help deliver on the ambitious targets set out in the Open Data Strategy.

More information

Further information about the Innovation and Outreach Fund can be found at www.finance-ni.gov.uk/niopendatafund.

The deadline to apply is Friday 7 February 2020.

Successful applications will be notified on 24 February 2020. Funded activities and projects need to be completed by 30 June 2020.


£25m Innovate UK Smart Grants

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing or disruptive R&D innovations which have significant potential to impact on the UK economy.

All proposals must be business focused, rather than pure research. Applications can come from any area of technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries), science or engineering and be applied to any part of the economy.

Whilst they welcome projects that overlap with the Grand Challenge areas of the UK Industrial Strategy - artificial intelligence and data, ageing society, clean growth and future of mobility - they are also keen to support projects that are entirely outside of these.

Funding

  • Duration between 6 and 18 months: total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000 (single company or collaboration).
  • Duration between 19 and 36 months: total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million (collaboration only).

Closing date

This competition closes on 22 April 2020 at 12 noon.

Find out more

Visit the Innovate UK website to find out more.


£98m Healthy Ageing Challenge

As part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Healthy Ageing Challenge asks industry and researchers to develop products and services to support an ageing society.

The number of people over 75 in the UK today is one in 12. By 2040, it will rise to one in seven. We're also living for longer and a third of children born now are expected to live to 100.

This presents a challenge to health services, but it is also an opportunity for businesses and researchers who can help people to stay active and productive as they age.

The Healthy Ageing Challenge will support UK government’s mission to ensure people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, and will support people to stay in their homes for longer, tackle loneliness, and increase independence and wellbeing.

Funded projects will need to show how they will tackle one or more of the following challenges of older life:

  • Sustaining physical activity
  • Maintaining health at work
  • Design for age-friendly homes
  • Creating healthy, active places
  • Supporting social connections
  • Living well with cognitive impairment
  • Managing common complaints of ageing.

Funding

Up to £98 million will be invested in research and innovation that supports people as they age.

Over the coming years, there will be a series of opportunities for UK-based businesses and researchers. This includes:

Healthy Ageing Catalyst 2020

This funding is aimed at researchers with early-stage innovative ideas that align with the Healthy Ageing Challenge. Awards will provide £50,000 at 80% fEC and must be led by an academic who is based at an eligible UK research organisation. Awards can support staff time and resources needed to meet a key milestone that demonstrates the potential of the innovation. Closing date for outline stage is 13 February 2020. Find out more >>

Trailblazers (£40m)

This programme focuses on supporting the development of near to market propositions with potential to be adopted at scale. It will stimulate new ideas from a wide range of businesses and social enterprises to develop and deliver products, services and business models at a large scale to support people as they age.

Investment Accelerator (£29m)

This programme will catalyse private investment in business-led research and development, to grow and take to market innovations for healthy ageing that have clear potential to be adopted at scale. These will focus on product and service innovations, not larger-scale infrastructure.

A total of £29 million in government grants, together with matched funding from private investors, will be available over the next four years for projects up to £1.5 million in eligible costs.

Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme

This programme will deliver evidence on key challenges facing the older population and ways in which support and care can be delivered effectively. Insights from the latest social and behavioural sciences and cutting-edge design research will feed into other activities in the healthy ageing challenge, enhance the competitive position of UK-based companies, and inform a wider group of stakeholders.

Developing the pipeline: Early stage support

UKRI will provide financial support to academic researchers and small, medium, enterprises working together to develop new products and services. This is early stage innovation activity and it will attract match funding from existing funding streams that focus on digital healthcare and older adults.

A total of up to £12 million will be available through a range of opportunities which will be announced starting in 2020 and run for up to four years.

Community of Practice

This programme will facilitate collaboration across the investment portfolio to maximise impact, facilitate international collaboration, support knowledge exchange and foster a pipeline of early stage innovations.

Find out more

Visit the UK Research and Innovation website to find out more and keep up to date with funding opportunities.


£40m Healthy Ageing Funding: Information Session - 4 October

A £40m Healthy Ageing Trailblazers funding competition is now open for applications.

As part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Healthy Ageing Challenge asks industry and researchers to develop products and services to support an ageing society.

It will support the UK government’s mission to ensure people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, and will support people to stay in their homes for longer, tackle loneliness, and increase independence and wellbeing.

Competition

The competition fund aims to encourage businesses and public sector led collaborations, including social enterprises, to develop and demonstrate how products, services and business models - which support people as they age - can be adopted at scale.

Stage one - £100,000 for research and business plan development
Stage two - £36m to develop and implement products, services or business models, with individual eligible project costs of up to £6 million.

Information Session

4 October 2019, Belfast City Hall, 1pm - 4.30pm

The Knowledge Transfer Network is holding an information session, facilitated by Belfast City Council, at Belfast City Hall on 4 October 2019 from 1pm - 4.30pm.

Hear from the Healthy Ageing Challenge leads at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which is investing up to £1.5 million in stage one of this two-stage competition.

Background information

The number of people over 75 in the UK today is one in 12. By 2040, it will rise to one in seven. We're also living for longer and a third of children born now are expected to live to 100.

This presents a challenge to health services, but it is also an opportunity for businesses and researchers who can help people to stay active and productive as they age.

Funded projects will need to show how they will tackle one or more of the following challenges of older life:

  • Sustaining physical activity
  • Maintaining health at work
  • Design for age-friendly homes
  • Creating healthy, active places
  • Supporting social connections
  • Living well with cognitive impairment
  • Managing common complaints of ageing.

Find out more

Visit the UK Research and Innovation website to find out more and keep up to date with funding opportunities.


£90K space data analytics funding

£90K of funding is available through a Small Business Research Initiative competition for new space data analytics projects.

The Department of Health (DoH) Northern Ireland funding is intended for projects that can triangulate prescription (health) data and air quality / pollution data with location data to supply new information through an innovative and engaging mechanism.

This new data should enable local citizens and the public authorities to be better informed about air quality and empower them to make better decisions when managing life, care and well-being in a sustainable and healthy way.

The projects should focus on delivering:

  • citizen-based utility to enable healthier choices
  • wider public health planning
  • clinical management of patients where poor air quality could lead to an exacerbation
  • understanding exposure to pollutants and effects at a local level
  • promoting urban healthy living and cleaner environments
  • better city and transport planning.

Funding

This competition is funded through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) scheme and is open to all providers that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution.

It is particularly suited to emerging, small and medium-sized business, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales.

Phase one

Total funding of up to £90,000 for phase one is available to cover all challenges within the SBRI brief. Phase one contracts:

  • are intended to design and develop prototypes or demonstration units
  • will be awarded to a potential of three contractors for a maximum period of four months and maximum funding of £30,000 (excluding VAT) per project
  • must be completed four months following the commencement of contracts.

Phase two

In a potential phase two project, clinical and field trials of technology may be required. Suppliers for phase two projects will be selected by a competitive process between existing phase one suppliers.

Phase three

There may be an option for phase three contracts, which are intended for pre-commercial testing to support continued development of the prototype.

Closing date

This opportunity closes on Friday 30 August 2019 at 3pm.

Find out more

Visit the NI Business Info website and eTendersNI website to view the tender documents and find out more.

 


Belfast Skyline

£19m electrification project funding

Businesses can apply for a share of £19 million of Innovate UK funding to develop supply chain processes that will help to deliver electrification in the UK.

The UK will need to switch to electrification across many sectors, from automotive to energy distribution, in order to meet its carbon reduction targets.

This change also represents a significant global opportunity for UK businesses making the power electronics, machines and drivers that will be required.

There is up to £19 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to invest in projects that support the creation, development and scale-up of supply chains in power electronics, machines and drivers.

Projects should address commercial opportunities in one or more of these sectors:

  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • energy generation and distribution
  • industrial (production equipment)
  • marine
  • off highway (construction, agricultural equipment)
  • rail.

Funding

The competition has two strands:

  1. Larger projects with total costs between £1 million and £3 million
  2. Smaller projects with total costs between £250,000 and £1 million.

Closing date

This competition closes on 25 September 2019 at 12 noon.

Find out more

Visit the Innovate UK website to find out more.

A briefing event will be held in Belfast on 8 August 2019 at the NIACE Centre (Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre).

 


Night time cityscape of Belfast showing roads and motorways, street lights and mountains in the distance

£55m Energy Project Funding

A number of Innovate UK funding opportunities are available for energy projects.

1. Energy Catalyst Round 7 - £22m

Energy Catalyst is focused on the needs of poor households, businesses and services in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. The competition will fund the development of any energy technology that helps to solve the energy trilemma (lower energy cost, lower emissions and improved security of energy supply) whilst also being targeted at people who are unable to afford or access existing solutions, or who lack the time or expertise to successfully use those solutions.

Competition opens: 17 June 2019
Competition closes: 18 September 2019

Find out more on the Innovate UK website.

2. ISCF Detailed Designs for Smart Local Energy Systems - £30m

This competition will fund world-leading smart energy system designs which focus on a specific UK location. These designs must encompass new business models and market structures that intelligently link supply, distribution, storage and demand patterns across power, heating and transport.

Competition opens: 7 May 2019
Competition closes: 7 August 2019

Find out more on the Innovate UK website.

3. PFER Innovation Accelerator - £3m

The Prospering from the Energy Revolution Innovation Accelerator will fund the development of components of an energy system. The scope of the competition, and what will be eligible, will be announced shortly.

Competition opens: July 2019

4. Prospering from the Energy Revolution Paris trip 10 - 14 November 2019

Join the UK Pavilion at the European Utilities Week exhibition and conference in Paris in November 2019. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is organising a funded visit to Paris targeted at organisations associated with energy systems innovations.

The visit, which is taking place from 10-14 November 2019, will be funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER).

The four-day trip will include attendance at the European Utilities Week conference and exhibition with over 900 exhibitors and conference sessions taking place. They will select organisations with expertise in the following topics relevant to the PFER programme:

  • power generation, supply and storage
  • heating/cooling generation, supply and storage
  • energy for transport
  • digital integration and system optimisation
  • energy efficiency.

Travel, hotels and conference registration will be organised by UKRI on behalf of the successful applicants. Register to attend the trip by the 28 June 2019.

Find out more

Visit the Innovate UK website to find out more.