SBRI Competition – Fusion Industry Challenges Organisations can apply for a share of £2 million, inclusive of VAT, to develop solutions that accelerate fusion power plant design and reduce their fuel requirements. Eligibility To lead a project, you can: be an organisation of any size work alone or with other organisations as subcontractors Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only You must: develop a solution fit for use in the UK and carry out any demonstration work in the UK work with and have the involvement a lead customer throughout the life of your project Closing soon Opened: 17 May 2021 Closes: 30 June 2021

Programme: Innovate Uk


Opens: 17 May 2021

Closes: 30 June 2021


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The aim of the competition is to develop solutions to fusion energy challenges in two key priority areas. This competition has two themes:

  1. Accelerating fusion power plant design with next-generation digital tools
  2. Reducing fusion power plant fuel requirements with advanced production and handling technology for hydrogen isotopes

This is phase 1 of a potential 2 phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1 and assessment of a separate application into a subsequent phase 2 competition.

Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2. Applicants for phase 2 will need to apply directly to the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

In applying to this phase 1 competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Funding type


Project size

Phase 1 projects can have total costs between £50,000 and £250,000, inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects are expected to start by 1 September 2021, end by 31 March 2022 and can last up to 6 months.


To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or other sectors as subcontractors

Applicants are welcome from all sectors.

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

Eligibility overview

Here is a diagram showing a summary of eligibility.

This is a new way of showing you eligibility. Your feedback will help us to improve it.

SBRI Fusion Industry Challenge - Eligibility tree.pdf (opens in a new window)


A total of up to £2 million, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 1. The funding is provided by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Phase 1 feasibility study R&D contracts must have total costs between £50,000 and £250,000, inclusive of VAT. Each project must last up to 6 months. We expect to fund up to 8 projects.

The second phase involves up to four contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £3 million, inclusive of VAT, will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 24 months.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

The contract is completed at the end of phase 2, and the successful business is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design, and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

If you are VAT registered you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process, VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total.

If you are not VAT registered, then you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. You will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and advise you to seek independent advice from HMRC.

Subsidy Control

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to Subsidy control criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

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