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Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory UK registered businesses and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20m for digital innovation projects that will improve the resource efficiency and energy efficiency of manufacturing processes in factories. This competition is open to collaborations only. To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered: business of any size You must involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Open now Opened: 1 November 2021 Closes: 26 January 2022

Programme: Innovate Uk

Award:

Opens: 1 November 2021

Closes: 26 January 2022

Description

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million 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 2 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.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Project size

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

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £8 million
  • 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 1 manufacturing sector
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

We encourage projects that cover multiple manufacturing sectors.

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your request has not been approved by us you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

Lead organisation

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.

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

Number of applications

A business can only lead on 2 applications within this competition but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to 4 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.

We 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. We 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 our 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. We 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 we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding

We have allocated up to £20 million 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
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