Innovate UK recently launched the first competition from their revised 2016/17 funding framework: a £15m investment supporting innovation in the Manufacturing and Materials sector. The first of the new, simplified competitions focuses on supporting four key sectors: emerging and enabling technologies; health and life sciences; manufacturing and materials and infrastructure systems will run this year.
The Manufacturing and Materials competition opened on the 9th May and requires applicants to register by the 6th July. The deadline for submissions will be a week later on the 13th July. Innovate UK has indicated an assessment window closing at the end of October, prempting a high volume of applications to this new structure.
The funding will specifically support innovation in: manufacturing systems, technologies, processes or business models, materials development, properties, integration or reuse. The scope is wide, but successful proposals must have cross-sector applicability and show that the funding will have a step-change impact on the productivity and competitiveness of at least one UK based SME.
Of particular interest for this round will be applications that are addressing the novel application of a digital technology or approach to manufacturing or materials development (such as automation, modeling and simulation, data analysis) or design for manufacture, use and end-of-life. Innovate UK is going to change this preference for each round.
The funding is designed to support innovative projects conducting feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development. Projects may span more than one category of research. Unlike previous year’s funding, applications must focus on technology development, early stage market research and stakeholder engagement activities are not going to be supported.
Applications are expected to be submitted in one of two streams;
- Stream 1 will support projects under £100k in size and 12 months in length. Applications for this stream can be either delivered by a single organisation or collaborative. A pot of £5m has been assigned to this stream.
- Stream 2 will support projects over £100k and under £2m that last between 12 and 36 months. All applications in this stream must be collaborative. A pot of £10m has been assigned to this stream with Innovate UK indicating that it will be split evenly between projects that are 2 years and 3 years in length.
Funding rates vary depending on the activities your project delivers. For feasibility studies and industrial research, 70% of eligible costs are claimable for SMEs and for experimental development, 45% of costs are claimable. For larger companies the rates are reduced.
If you’re familiar with the previous Innovate UK application process, you’ll notice that this new framework is not too dissimilar from the old SMART framework. There’s 10 individual questions about your innovation, the market opportunity, your team, the project plan, finances and risks and how Innovate UK add value to the project.
There’s fewer appendices allowed than in previous years, so there’s even more importance than ever on presenting the information about your project to the assessors in a clear, concise yet exciting way.
Our expert consultants and writers have had great success securing Innovate UK funding over the last few years with clients in the digital manufacturing sector and have helped develop R&D plans with impact beyond the funding. We’d love to hear from you to discuss how we might be able to support your application development, so if this sounds of interest, get in touch.
For more information there’s still two more briefing events; 26th May in the West Midlands and the 27th in Manchester for you to attend. We were at the London event earlier in the week and can highly recommend them.