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Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory

Overview:

UK-registered businesses and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20million for digital innovation projects that will improve the resource efficiency and energy efficiency of manufacturing processes in factories.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20million in innovation projects. These will be for innovation in digital technologies to reduce environmental impact within manufacturing processes.

The aim of this competition is to develop digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes. This must result in either reduced material or reduced energy consumption.

Your proposal must deliver sustainable solutions through applying digital technology development to manufacturing processes within a production facility.

Your project must demonstrate the digital innovations that will deliver sustainability improvements.

This competition is split into two strands:

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

Your project must apply to either Strand 1 or Strand 2.

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £1million and £8million.

Open Date:

01/11/2021

Close Date:

26/01/2022

The aim of this competition is to develop digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in either reduced material or reduced energy consumption.

Your project must apply digital technology development to improve manufacturing processes within a production facility, to deliver more environmentally sustainable production processes.

Your project must focus on developing digital solutions to:

  • Reduce the amount of waste or other in-process material losses through the manufacturing steps
  • Reduce the energy consumed by a manufacturing process
  • Better sequence or schedule the manufacturing operations to reduce material or energy consumption
  • Better separate waste materials to facilitate material reuse

Your project must be an innovative development or novel application of data or an industrial digital technology (IDT). This must result in either reduced material consumption or reduced energy consumption.

Your project must estimate the material or energy savings using the Resource Efficiency and Energy Efficiency (REEE) definitions. Savings must be from the manufacturing process, including any savings from reduction material purchases and associated embodied CO2e reduction.

  • Resource Efficiency (RE): a reduction in material wastage throughout the manufacturing processes, including bought in-materials and expressed as Tonnes of material saved and the equivalent embodied CO2e.
  • Energy Efficiency (EE): a reduction in electric, gas or equivalent power consumption expressed in kWh power saved and equivalent CO2e.

Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) can include, but are not limited to:

  • AI and machine learning
  • Industrial internet of things (IIoT) and connectivity
  • Robotics and automation
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Digital twin

Your project must fit into one of the two strands for this competition.

Strand 1

Your project must be data centric and can involve significant use of data sets. Industrial digital technologies (IDTs) within this strand can include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Data use will be the primary focus of your project, where the data element will be the main driver of the resource efficiency or energy efficiency improvements. You must provide a robust case for your project being data centric for inclusion in this strand. If Innovate UK deem your project out of scope for this strand, it will be made ineligible and will not be assessed.

Strand 2

Your project can have a significant focus on other IDTs, but may still be supported by data sets.

Data use will be secondary to the main technology focus, where the data element is likely to support the resource efficiency or energy efficiency improvements.

Outputs

Your planned outputs must be:

  • A tested proposal for digital solutions to deliver more sustainable manufacturing processes
  • A deployment within a manufacturing facility or very near equivalent for example a comparable development facility
  • A case study outlining the digital solution, the results of the project, and qualitative and quantitative evidence of benefits identified

Innovate UK expect, where possible, for you to provide open access to the set-up of the project as a demonstrator of the digital solution.

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects to achieve a balance for the Made smarter innovation funding. Innovate UK will apply a portfolio approach between regional locations, industrial sectors, digital technologies, project types, strands, project sizes and business sizes.

Specific themes

Your project can only apply to either Strand 1 or Strand 2.

You must apply to the strand which most closely fits your project.

Your project must focus on one or more of the themes within the two strands for this competition.

You will be asked in your application which theme or themes your project focuses on.

Strand 1 – Digital innovation with manufacturing data:

  • Data capture
  • Data visualisation
  • Pattern identification
  • Autonomous decision & action

IDTs within strand 1 can include AI and Machine Learning.

Strand 2 – Digital innovation in manufacturing processes:

Projects can comprise of any other Industrial Digital Technology (IDT) where the activity meets the scope of the call.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Industrial internet of things (IIoT) and connectivity
  • Robotics and automation
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Digital twin

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £1million and £8million
  • Not exceed the maximum grant limit of 50% of your total eligible costs for strand 1
  • Not exceed the maximum grant limit of 40% of your total eligible costs for strand 2
  • Start by 1 September 2022
  • Last between 12 and 24 months
  • Involve a single factory or multiple factories
  • Include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities in your consortium
  • Be applicable to at least one manufacturing sector
  • Carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Innovate UK encourage projects that cover multiple manufacturing sectors.

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • Involve at least one SME

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTO’s) cannot lead.

Project team

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

  • Business of any size
  • Academic institution
  • Charity
  • Not-for-profit
  • Public sector organisation
  • Research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

business can only lead on two applications within this competition but can be included as a collaborator in a further two applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to four applications within this competition.

Research organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK  will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see the general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. Innovate UK are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.

This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, they will tell you as soon as possible.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £20million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

For strand 1, the total grant funding for your project must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs.

For strand 2, the total grant funding for your project must not exceed 40% of your total eligible project costs.

For both strands these limits are regardless of the individual partners’ grant claims. Individual organisations may need to adjust their grant request, for projects to remain within the overall maximum grant limit against total eligible project costs. Research organisation costs must be taken into account to ensure that the total grant applied for does not exceed these limits.

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 more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

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.

Research participation

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.

Of 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:

  • Apply for a grant level in excess of the limit for the competition strand
  • Include an overseas partner
  • Are not showing how both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities are represented in the consortium
  • Are not focused on activities for manufacturing production processes
  • Are not delivering CO2e or kWh savings from within the manufacturing processes
  • Are primarily focused on design, use phase or end of life
  • Are general factory infrastructure for example heating and lighting
  • Are primarily focused on switching to a different energy source
  • Are construction, other than manufacturing activities carried out off-site within a permanent fixed factory
  • Are offsite repair and overhaul
  • Are activities focused on supply chain connectivity, warehouses, distribution centres or flying factories
  • Are projects where the main exploitation route is not within manufacturing
  • Are dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • Are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 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.

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.