The aim of this competition is to fund ambitious projects that will successfully integrate the technical, regulatory and social challenges necessary to prove new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles.
The Future Flight Challenge is based around three classes of aircraft:
- Drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
- Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
- Sub-regional electric or hybrid passenger aircraft
For strand 1 of the competition, your project must include a means of demonstration of one or more of these classes of aircraft and enabling systems, operating in a representative environment.
You should include the participation of end users or operators in your project and engagement with appropriate local authorities would be beneficial.
A clear understanding of the regulatory requirements and proposed route to achieving regulatory approval must be demonstrated.
Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects, with a variety of technologies, markets, aircraft classes, use cases and research categories across both strands of this competition.
Consideration will be given to projects with a specific regional focus and ambitions for Net Zero transport solutions.
The Future Flight team reserves the right to approach and agree with projects’ changes of scope during the project lifecycle. This can include recommending changes to project partners and to combine or merge projects in order to achieve fully integrated demonstrations. It is expected that further funds may be available to support such changes.
Your project must focus on demonstrating the operation of aircraft in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case. Use cases should be real-world applications which drive integration of the different aviation system elements for each of the three Future Flight vehicle classes.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Demonstrations of multiple drones, operating as a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) service in a defined geographic area.
- A multi-modal demonstration of different aircraft types operating in parallel providing an end-to-end solution
- AAM vehicle operation in a representative environment
- Scheduled sub-regional electric flights over a representative route
You can find further details of use cases that projects are recommended to align with on the Future Flight Challenge web page.
Innovate UK have allocated up to £65million to fund innovation projects across the two strands of 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 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
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.
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
Innovate UK are not funding projects that:
- Are a development of systems or sub-systems for application to large civil passenger aircraft
- Do not include any form of demonstration
- Have no plan for engagement with an end-user or operator
- Are developing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) for gas turbine or turboprop aircraft
- Focus solely on defence or space applications
- Are dependent on export performance – for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
- Are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example, if they insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product
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.