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Sustainable Smart Factory – New Grant Competition

Innovate UK’s Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory competition is providing up to £20 million for digital technologies designed to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing. Here are the key things you need to know about this award.

Innovate UK has launched a £20 million grant competition to fund the development of digital technologies that reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. 

Titled Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory, this new award is the last of three competitions comprising Innovate UK’s Made smarter innovation challenge, a £147 million initiative designed to deliver “a resilient, flexible, more productive and environmentally sustainable UK manufacturing sector”. 

The competition opened to applications on 1 November and will close on 26 January 2022. Like many Innovate UK grants, it is split into multiple strands. In this case: 

  • Strand 1 – Digital innovation with manufacturing data 
  • Strand 2 – Digital innovation in manufacturing processes

You can apply to either strand. 

To qualify for Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory, your project must look to apply digital technology to manufacturing processes within a production facility in order to reduce their material or energy consumption. 

It must start by 1 September 2022 and last for between 12 and 24 months. It must also have eligible costs of between £1 million and £8 million, with Innovate UK providing up to 50% of funding.  

To apply for this award, your company needs to be part of a consortium that includes both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities. Projects that cover multiple manufacturing sectors are encouraged. 

We’ve broken out the full eligibility criteria and how much funding your company can apply for below. 

If you are thinking about applying for this competition, check out GrantTree’s Innovate UK Application Guide, or, if you’d like expert support, just drop us a line. 

How much can my company apply for?

How much grant funding your company can apply for depends on which of the competition’s strands you’re applying to. 

If you successfully apply to strand 1, Digital innovation with manufacturing data, you’ll receive a grant covering up to 50% of your project costs. 

That works out to between £500,000 and £4,000,000.

If you successfully apply to strand 2, Digital innovation in manufacturing processes, Innovate UK will give you a grant covering up to 40% of your costs. 

That works out to between £400,000 and £3,200,000.

You must provide the rest of the funding through other means.

Eligibility criteria

Below is a complete breakdown of Innovate UK’s eligibility criteria for the Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory competition.

As with any innovation grants contest, the list of eligibility criteria for this competition is long and can be hard to interpret.

If you want an easier way to find out whether your company qualifies, our grants experts would be happy to perform a free eligibility check. 

Just get in touch, and we’ll be right with you!

Your company 

To qualify for the Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory competition, your company must:

  • Be a UK-registered business 
  • Intend to exploit the results from your project from or in the UK 
  • Carry out all of your project work in the UK

Your project 

In addition, your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £1,000,000 and £8,000,000
  • Start by 1 September 2022
  • Last between 12 and 24 months
  • Involve one or more factories
  • Not exceed the maximum grant limit (50% of costs for strand 1 and 40% for strand 2)
  • Include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities 

Being a lead organisation

To lead a project, your company must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other UK registered organisations 
  • Involve at least one SME in your consortium
  • NOT be an academic or research and technology organisation (RTO)

Being a collaborator

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

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

Use of subcontractors

You are allowed to use subcontractors under the following conditions:

  • The subcontractor is selected through your usual procurement process (if they’re based in the UK)
  • The subcontractor can be from overseas, but you must explain why you are not using suppliers based in the UK
  • This includes providing a detailed rationale, evidence that you contacted prospective UK subcontractors and an explanation of why you could not work with them 
  • Cheaper cost is not a sufficient reason to use an overseas supplier

Previous applications

You are allowed to use previous applications to apply for this competition.

However, Innovate UK will not award you funding if your company has:

  • Failed to comply with the terms and conditions of a previous competition
  • An overdue independent accountant’s report
  • Failed to exploit a project that was previously funded by a grant

Get professional help on your application

If you’re looking to apply for the Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory competition, working with GrantTree can significantly increase your chances of success.

Drop us a line, and a member of our grants team will be right with you.