WRAP and Innovate UK launch £1.7m competition to cut plastic pollution

WRAP and Innovate UK have launched a new fund to reduce plastic pollution in India, Chile, Kenya, and South Africa. The International Circular Plastics Flagship Competition has £1.7m available for solutions that respond to specific targets under the plastics pacts of these nations.

Scope

This competition will support market feasibility studies and early prototyping or pilot trials in global markets, with the overarching aim of reducing plastic packaging pollution. The funding focuses on the following four themes:

  • flexible film packs including small format
  • reusable packaging and new business models
  • collection, sorting, cleaning and recycling
  • end market development

All applicants must demonstrate that their proposal can address one or more of the specific challenge statements (see pp. 6-7 of the Guidance Document) for the country in which their project is taking place.

Eligibility

This competition is only open to UK registered organisations. They can apply for funding of between £50,000 and £250,000 to cover up to 100% of a project’s eligible costs. Where project costs are higher than £250,000, applicants will be expected to self-fund the excess amount.

To be eligible, applicants must have an innovative, replicable, tried and tested solution (TRL 6) that will address specific country challenges. In addition, they will need to complete the project and provide a detailed feasibility report by March 2023.

You can also find the full eligibility criteria on page 5 of the Guidance Document.

How to Apply

This competition has a single-stage application process. Before applying, you should complete WRAP’s pre-qualification questionnaire. If you meet the qualifying criteria, you will then receive a full application pack.

More Information

The International Circular Plastics Flagship Competition is open until 13th January 2022. For more information, see WRAP’s website or register to attend the briefing event on 2nd December.

If you are looking for bid writing support, please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


i4i Challenge Awards open for applications

The NIHR i4i Challenge Awards are open for applications! This competition provides funding to support the assessment of MedTech innovations in real-world healthcare settings. It aims to shorten the gap between the clinical evaluation of technologies and their adoption, therefore leading to a disruptive medical device or in vitro diagnostic test that can offer improved outcomes for NHS patients.

Am I eligible for funding?
  • The lead applicant must be an SME, NHS provider, or higher education institution. They must also be based in England.
  • Projects should involve a minimum of two organisations, with at least one of the collaborators being from an NHS provider.
  • Technologies must have demonstrated safety and efficacy and must have obtained or be in the process of obtaining CE marking.
  • Projects can last up to 3 years, but a duration of up to 5 years will be considered if a strong case is made.
What funding is available?

i4i Challenge funding supports the following research and development activities:

  • Activities associated with the design and delivery of evaluations for innovations in healthcare settings
  • Collection of effectiveness data if this is part of a clinical utility study
  • Health economic analysis
  • Work around market analysis and development of a business case for adoption
  • Project management and stakeholder engagement activities
  • Activities associated with data analysis, management, and governance
  • Small changes to the technology that might be needed for its optimisation during the lifetime of the project
  • Training associated with the implementation of the new technology
  • Implementation research costs
  • Activities associated with the dissemination of outputs

You can access the full scope for the i4i Challenge Awards here.

What is the application process?

All competitions under the i4i programme have a two-stage application process – only those successful at Stage 1 will receive an invite to proceed to Stage 2. Stage 1 is open from 4th November until 12th January, with applicants set to receive the results of their submission on 23rd March. Then, Stage 2 will follow with a deadline of 11th May.

How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight’s team of grant funding consultants has over 50 years combined experience, accessing more than £50 million. If you’d like our help applying to the i4i Challenge Awards, please get in touch today.


Made Smarter Innovation Programme launches funding call for digital innovation projects

The Made Smarter Innovation Programme has launched a new funding call for digital innovation projects. UK registered organisations can apply for a share of £20m if they have an idea to improve the resource efficiency and energy efficiency of manufacturing processes.

This competition has 2 strands:

  • Strand 1 - Digital innovation with manufacturing data
  • Strand 2 - Digital innovation in manufacturing processes
Scope

The competition aims to develop digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes. Therefore, all projects 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

Projects must also fit into one of the competition’s two strands, which you can read more about here.

Eligibility

Firstly, the lead applicant must be a UK-registered business. In addition, they must work in collaboration with other UK-registered organisations and ensure that at least one SME is involved in the project.

All projects must:

  • Cost between £1m and £8m
  • Not exceed the maximum grant limits (50% for strand 1 and 40% for strand 2)
  • Start before 1st September 2022
  • Last between 12 and 24 months
  • Include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities in your consortium
  • Apply to at least one manufacturing sector
  • Involve a single factory or multiple factories
  • Carry out all project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
More information

The latest Made Smarter Innovation competition will open from 1st November 2021 until 26th January 2022. For more information, please visit the competition page or register to attend the briefing event on 9th November. If you are looking for bid writing support, please contact us to arrange a free consultation.


Autumn Budget 2021: key takeaways for innovative businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has presented his Autumn Budget in the House of Commons, setting out a range of new spending measures for the year ahead. From an increase in Innovate UK’s budget to new regional funding opportunities, there are several key takeaways for businesses involved in research and innovation:

Public investment in R&D

The government will maintain its target of increasing R&D investment to £22bn. However, the government has pushed this target back by two years; they will instead aim to reach £20bn by 2024/25 and £22bn by 2026/27. The Chancellor confirmed that this £20bn investment is in addition to the cost of R&D tax reliefs. Overall, total public investment in R&D will increase from 0.7% of GDP in 2018 to 1.1% of GDP by the end of this parliament.

There are further notable spending measures for research and innovation, including:

  • Fully funding the UK’s association to Horizon Europe
  • Increasing Innovate UK’s annual core budget to £1bn (up from £907m in 2021-22)
  • Establishing the new Advanced Research and Invention Agency with £800m by 2025-26
Regional funding

There will be more funding for the British Business Bank's regional financing programmes. They will receive £1.6bn to deliver an expanded programme of activity, therefore enabling more innovative businesses to secure the funding they need to grow.

Significantly, this investment will pave the way for a £130 million fund to support SMEs in Wales. A £150m fund will be available for Scottish businesses, while £70m will expand the funding available for businesses in Northern Ireland.

R&D Tax Credits

The Chancellor announced two key areas of reform for R&D tax relief:

  • Firstly, the scheme will be modernised; its scope will expand to include cloud computing and data costs.
  • In addition, the government will introduce changes to refocus R&D tax relief on domestic activity from April 2023.
Summary

RedKnight's Co-Director, Dayne Hodgson, has summarised his view on the Autumn Budget:

“While disappointing that public investment in R&D will not reach £22bn until 2026/27, the Autumn Budget contains plenty of good news for UK innovators. It is great to see that Innovate UK’s budget will increase to £1bn, and we welcome the announcement of a new fund to support SMEs in Wales. Now, we hope that the UK will quickly finalise its Association to Horizon Europe to avoid further delay and disruption for UK applicants.”

You can access all Autumn Budget documents here.


i4i Product Development Awards open for applications

The NIHR i4i Product Development Awards are open for applications! Funding is available to support translational research and development of medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and high-impact patient-focused digital health technologies for NHS use.

Eligibility Criteria

Firstly, the lead applicant must be i) registered in England and ii) an SME, NHS provider or higher education institution. Projects should be collaborative and include at least two types of organisation from this list.

In addition, projects must have demonstrated proof of concept and have a clear pathway towards adoption and commercialisation. There is no upper funding limit but all costs must be fully justified.

How to apply

All competitions under the i4i programme have a two-stage application process - only those successful at Stage 1 will receive an invite to proceed to Stage 2. Stage 1 opened on 20th October and will close on 8th December, with applicants set to receive the results of their submission by 17th February 2022. Then, Stage 2 will follow with a deadline of 13th April 2022.

The following activities are eligible for funding:
  • Research and development of medical devices, in vitro diagnostic devices across all areas of existing or emerging healthcare need.
  • Digital health technologies that fall under Tier 3 of the NICE Evidence Framework for Digital Health Technologies (.PDF), and that are focused on patient outcomes and intended for ultimate NHS use.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies including Augmented or Ambient Intelligence, applied in areas of health and social care including health promotion and prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Product development required to enable a technology for clinical use
  • Research and development of techniques or technologies from a different industry sector, which could have a potential impact if applied in a healthcare setting.
  • Feasibility studies if a technology from a sector other than health
  • Studies to provide data relating to safety and effectiveness of a device
  • Clinical utility studies
  • CE/UKCA marking and other regulatory requirements
  • Activities associated with the technology’s market access strategy
  • Training associated with the implementation of new technology

Further information is available on the NIHR website.

How RedKnight can help

RedKnight’s team of grant funding consultants has over 50 years’ combined experience, accessing more than £50 million. If you’d like our help applying to the i4i Product Development Awards, please get in touch today.

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Grant funding available for SMEs developing innovative aerospace technologies

Through NATEP helping SMEs innovate in aerospace, UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of £2.5 million to develop innovative aerospace technologies. This competition is run by Innovate UK, in collaboration with the Aerospace Technology Institute and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Scope

This competition aims to help SMEs develop innovative aerospace technologies, therefore enhancing their capabilities and increasing their ability to win new business in the civil aerospace sector. All projects must have a credible route to market and preferably have identified their end-users.

Additionally, all projects should:

  • Demonstrate improvement in business productivity and competitiveness
  • Show clear benefit technically
  • Be able to pull through new technology or processes for use in a current or future product or manufacturing process
  • Show clear benefit in creating or safeguarding jobs
  • Be able to enhance capabilities within the broader aerospace industry, as well as other sectors such as advanced manufacturing
Eligibility

Firstly, the lead organisation must be a UK registered SME. They must work in collaboration with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, research technology organisations, public sector organisations, charities or academic institutions. In addition, they will need to sign up to the Aerospace Technology Institute framework agreement.

Innovate UK primarily expects to fund businesses that are new to research and development or are restarting R&D activity. Their projects must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £150,000 and £300,000
  • Last between 12 and 18 months
  • Start by 1st June 2022 and end by 31st March 2024
  • Carry out all project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit its results from or in the UK
 More Information

This competition will open from 15th November 2021 until 12th January 2022. For more information, visit the competition page or register to attend the online briefing event on 22nd November. If you are looking for bid writing support, please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


Delays in formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe cause concern

Delays in formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe are causing growing concern amongst the UK research and innovation community.

In December 2020, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement revealed that the UK would associate to Horizon Europe. This meant UK entities would be able to access funding on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

However, ten months on, the European Commission is yet to sign off on the deal. In recent weeks, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, has said that the UK will only be allowed to associate to Horizon Europe once other political disputes are resolved (Source: Science | Business).

Growing Concern

Organisations in both the EU and the UK are becoming increasingly concerned about the delay. The European University Association has claimed that delays are creating unnecessary insecurity within the European knowledge community, which threatens plans for scientific cooperation.

In a recent statement, they called for the process of association to be accelerated:

“Europe’s universities therefore urge the European Commission and the UK government to finalise Protocol I linked to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a basis for UK association and to move onward to a fast and successful association of the UK to Horizon Europe.”

What does this mean for UK applicants?

Despite recent uncertainty, UK entities can continue to apply for funding from Horizon Europe. However, grant agreements will only be signed once association has been finalised.

In an earlier Q&A on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, the European Commission said they expect the UK’s association agreement to enter into force before the first grant agreement signings.

With several countries already formally associated to Horizon Europe, we are hopeful that the UK's agreement will follow soon. Share your thoughts in the comments below and please contact us if you have any questions.


How to approach a grant application: our step-by-step bid writing process

We’re often asked how we approach grant applications. What does the bid writing process look like from start to finish? In this post, we’ll talk you through each step of the process. From the first point of contact through to submission, here is what you can expect from working with RedKnight:

1. Introductory call

Once you have contacted RedKnight, we will set up an introductory call as soon as possible. In this call, we will discuss your project idea and available funding opportunities. If you have a specific competition in mind, we can also help to confirm your eligibility.

2. Sign NDA

Next, we will sign an NDA to assure you that all information you share is confidential. This will allow you to talk more freely and share technical information about your innovation. At this stage, we aim to collate all the information we need to draft the proposal.

3. Scoping session

Before the bid writing begins, we will set up a project scoping meeting to go through the application and agree on key messages.

4. Bid writing begins

Our bid-development process consists of three phases: a first draft, an optimised draft and a final version. At each stage, we will improve the application in line with your feedback. We keep the process as streamlined as possible to limit the amount of time you spend reviewing drafts, while also ensuring you have sufficient input throughout the process.

In parallel with the bid writing process, we will collate all necessary information to create supplementary documents e.g., appendices and financials.

5. Submission

This is the final stage of the bid writing process. We can provide you with a fully formatted application to submit to the funding body yourselves, or we can submit it on your behalf.

If you would like to work with RedKnight on a grant application, please contact us today.


Innovate UK Smart Grants: frequently asked questions (FAQs)

In today's blog, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about Innovate UK Smart Grants. We hope this information will help with most queries, but if you can’t find the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us.

1. What is Innovate UK Smart Grants?

Smart is Innovate UK’s open grant funding programme. It provides funding for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation from any area of technology.

2. Who can apply?

Firstly, the lead applicant must be a UK-registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation. They can work alone or in collaboration with other businesses, academic institutions, research organisations or the third sector. However, all projects must include at least one SME. In addition, all project activity should take place in the UK (including subcontracted work).

If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it:

  • must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
  • can be single or collaborative

If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:

  • have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
  • be collaborative
3. What funding is available?

The current round will invest £25 million in innovative projects. The amount available for individual projects depends on several factors, such as the stage of development and the size of the business.

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

  • 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 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
  • 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 25% if you are a large organisation
4. Is stage of development important?

Innovate UK supports projects at various stages of development, with funding available for the following research categories: feasibility studies, industrial research, and experimental development. It’s important that you correctly identify your research category, as a higher level of grant support is available for projects at earlier stages of development.

5. How do I apply?

To apply, you must complete an application via the Innovation Funding Service. The application form has three sections: project details, application questions, and finances. You will be scored for your answers to questions 2 to 11, which can each be up to 400 words long.

Your application should also include appendices for the following questions:

  • Approach and innovation – include diagrams and charts to provide more detail about the innovation.
  • Team and resources – provide a short summary of all staff involved in the project.
  • Project management - submit a project plan or Gantt chart to support your answer.
  • Risks – submit a risk register to support your answer
6. What is the assessment process?

Applications that meet the eligibility criteria will be independently assessed by between three and five assessors. They will provide scores and written feedback for each section of your application. Then, applications will be ranked based on the average of all assessor scores. The highest-ranking applications will be recommended to Innovate UK for funding.

7. What is the average score needed for a successful application?

Typically, you will need to score at least 80% to have a realistic chance of success. However, in recent Smart Grant rounds, the threshold has been as high as 84% for Stream 1 (projects up to 18 months) and 87% for Stream 2 (projects between 19 and 36 months).

8. What are the chances of success?

Innovate UK Smart Grants are extremely competitive. The latest available data is from the November 2020 competition; in this round, 5% of Stream 1 applications and 8% of Stream 2 applications were successful (Source: whatdotheyknow.com).

9. Can I apply again if I am unsuccessful?

The simple answer is yes, you can resubmit if your first attempt is unsuccessful. However, you are limited to a maximum of two applications to Innovate UK with any given proposal.

10. How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight can help you prepare a competitive application. Not only will this save you time, with grant applications taking an average of 6-10 weeks to complete in-house, but it will also increase your chances of success! You can view a selection of our case studies here. In addition, we can provide application reviews and support with resubmissions.

RedKnights logo, drawing attention to our Innovate UK Smart Grant bid writing service

If you are looking for support with an Innovate UK Smart Grant application, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


Innovate UK funding call for circular economy innovation projects

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £1 million in order to deliver circular economy innovation projects. This competition is part of the £30 million UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme, which aims to accelerate the UK’s transition to a circular economy.

Scope

This competition will support feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development projects that address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy. Specifically, projects can focus on one or more of the following examples:

  •  piloting the introduction of a circular economy business model
  • development or improvement of products and processes to enable remanufacturing, repair and retention of value
  • increasing understanding and exploitation of material flow data in a defined place (for example; city, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), cluster, region)
  • scaling-up of credible feasibility studies
  • evaluating whether proposed approaches are more sustainable when considering broader life cycle thinking

This is not an exhaustive list – Innovate UK will also welcome other focus areas that clearly address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy. To read the full competition scope, which includes projects that Innovate UK will not fund, click here.

Eligibility

All projects must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000
  • Start no earlier than 1st April 2022 and end by 31st March 2023
  • Last between 9 and 12 months
  • Conduct all its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

In addition, applicants must include at least one of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres as a project partner. Alternatively, you can include a letter of support from one of the centres that demonstrates the alignment of the proposed activities to one or more Centres’ aims and objectives.

More Information

This competition will accept applications from 11th October until 8th December. For more information and to apply, click here. If you would like to discuss an application with a member of our team, please contact us today.