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Project Size:
£50,000 - £250,000


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:

  • accelerating fusion power plant design with next-generation digital tools
  • 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. 


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

Phase 1 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

 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.


Your project must address one of these two themes:

1.Accelerating fusion power plant design with next-generation digital tools  To meet Net Zero targets, there is not enough time for traditional Design-Build-Test-Learn approach for fusion power plants. Increasing emphasis will be placed upon emerging innovation from in silico engineering design: 

Exascale artificial Intelligence era Digital Thread platform

  • beyond current Product Lifecycle Management
  • endures for the lifetime of the product (100 years)
  • low-code
  • time efficient
  • scalable
  • enable and promote automation
  • enable design integration 

Optimise the extraction of information and knowledge from experiment and simulation

  • data science for experiment automation and optimisation
  • avoid “all prior data” dependence
  • minimise simulation data storage – extraction, compression, discarding
  • surrogate models and emulators
  • data extrapolation 

2. Reducing fusion power plant fuel requirements with advanced production and handling technology for Hydrogen isotopes. Developing techniques for safely and efficiently managing hydrogen isotopes: e.g.: 

  • Hydrogen Isotope Separation Technologies
  • improving efficiency of tritium and hydrogen systems (e.g. pumps, sealants, inner loop)
  • waste management and decommissioning
  • development of on-line Tritium production measurement (e.g. Raman spectroscopy)

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