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ATI programme: R&D funding for smaller business, expression of interest, Autumn 2020


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £8million to carry out industry-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects. This funding is from the ATI Programme.

Up to £8million is allocated from the ATI Programme for SMEs to deliver world leading aerospace technologies in the UK. This supports and encourages industrial investment into the aerospace sector and its supply chain, through the funding of innovative and high impact projects. These projects will demonstrate forward-looking and disruptive solutions to UK civil aerospace challenges.

This phase is for expressions of interest. The full stage competition will open on 1 March 2021.

Only successful applications from the expression of interest competition will be invited to apply for the full stage competition. Successful applications from this competition will be reviewed alongside the successful full stage applications.

Innovate UK will not accept unjustified changes to the project consortium or costs. If you make changes between the expression of interest and the full stage competition, your application may be rejected.

Your project start date must be no later than 1 September 2021.

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £300,000 and £1.5million.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to help SME’s to develop and encourage technological innovation within the civil aerospace sector, which can be exploited in the next five years.

Your project must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories

Specific themes

Your project must have a potential application within the civil aerospace sector. This can include dual use technologies.

Your proposal must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, ‘Accelerating Ambition’, which is split into these areas:

  • Vehicles: strengthening the UK’s whole-aircraft design and system integration capability, and positioning it for future generations of civil aircraft
  • Advanced systems: developing UK advanced systems technologies to capture high-value opportunities in current and future aircraft
  • Aerostructures: ensuring the UK is a global leader in the development of large complex structures, particularly wings
  • Propulsion and power: advancing a new generation of more efficient propulsion technologies, particularly large turbofans
  • Cross-cutting enablers: developing high value design capabilities, advanced materials, manufacturing and assembly, and advanced through-life engineering technologies

Only successful applicants from this expression of interest competition will be invited to take part in the full-stage competition. Innovate UK are not allocating any funding to this competition.

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £300,000 and £1.5million
  • Start by 1 September 2021
  • End by 31 August 2024
  • Last between 12 and 36 months
  • Involve a UK-registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • Have a creditable route to market
  • Identify end-users
  • Address the priorities stated in the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, “Accelerating Ambition

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other UK-registered businesses, research organisations, research and technology organisations (RTO), public sector organisations or charities
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTO) cannot lead.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation, research organisation or RTO
  • Involve a UK-registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Be invited by the lead organisation

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs.

If an RTO is participating as a business, you must show that the match funding you are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in. You must also show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Multiple applications

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further two applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.

An academic institution, charity, public sector organisation, research organisation or RTO can collaborate on any number of applications.

The ATI Programme has allocated up to £8million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Innovate UK are not allocating any funding in this competition. If you are successful in this expression of interest stage you will be invited to apply into the full-stage competition.

Full-stage competition

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

At least 50% of the total grant funding must go to the SMEs in your consortium.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 70% if you are a UK-registered micro and small organisation
  • 60% if you are a UK-registered medium organisation
  • 50% if you are a UK-registered large organisation

No one project partner can incur more than 70% of the total project costs.

UK-registered large businesses in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total project costs. If your consortium contains more than one large business, this maximum will be shared between them.

The UK-registered research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activities can share up to 30% of the total project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them. They can each claim 100% of their total eligible costs. UK-registered research organisations undertaking economic activities will be treated as businesses.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, aid for research, development and innovation of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid, including in relation to undertakings in difficulty.

Innovate UK are not funding projects:

  • Which are primarily aligned to defence, space or other industrial sectors, but they will recognise dual-use technologies provided the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • That cover fundamental research, feasibility studies or experimental development
  • With scope outside of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.