back to open calls

Made Smarter Innovation: Industry ready Robotics and Automation

Manufacturing & Materials
Project Size:
between £200,000 - £4 million

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £6 million in innovation projects. These will be for innovation in late-stage robotics and automation to increase productivity, sustainability and resilience within manufacturing processes.

The aim of this competition is to develop and demonstrate industrially ready robotics and automation solutions deployable within a factory production area.

Your proposal must:

  • deliver an innovative digital development or significantly novel application of robotics and automation
  • overcome a technical barrier within manufacturing processes in a factory production area

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


Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £200,000 and £4 million
  • not exceed the maximum grant limit of 50% of your total costs
  • start by 1 October 2023
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 9 months and 15 months
  • involve at least one factory
  • 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

We encourage projects that cover multiple manufacturing sectors.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

If your project’s total costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to 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 application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then 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

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) 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.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Non-funded partners

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


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 provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A 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, charities, not for profit, public sector organisations and research and technology organisations (RTO), can collaborate on any number of applications.

The aim of this competition is to develop and demonstrate industrially ready robotics and automation solutions deployable within a factory production area.

Your project must:

  • deliver an innovative digital development or significantly novel application of late stage robotics and automation
  • overcome a technical barrier within manufacturing processes in a factory production setting

Your project must focus on demonstrating the robotic and automation innovations to deliver productivity, sustainability and resilience improvements to the manufacturing process.

Your project must:

  • be robotics or automation focused within a factory production area
  • be focused on value-adding production tasks or directly associated load, unload and move tasks
  • include a physical deployment within a manufacturing facility or very near equivalent, for example, a comparable development facility
  • demonstrate a clear, scalable commercial exploitation route within the project consortium

We encourage you to:

  • demonstrate clear, scalable commercial exploitation route to other manufacturers and manufacturing sectors beyond the initial project consortium itself
  • include a demonstrator element with access beyond the project timescales (host visits, on-line access, video footage)

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across different markets, research categories, strands or themes, technologies, technology maturities, locations, industrial sectors, project sizes, exploitation potential and business sizes. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific Themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • flexible and modular automation: driving repurposing and flexible redeployment to maximise use life
  • systems integration: productising scalable commercial solutions
  • mobile robotics: including modular robots and multi purpose
  • human assisted and cobots: including ethics and human machine interface (HMI)
  • no-code and low-code solutions: to improve SME accessibility and lower access cost
  • flexible packaged solutions: reconfigurable modular solutions, tight access retrofit, hygiene friendly
  • gripper and end-effector optimization: especially for challenging production environments, fragile, shape
  • self powered or cableless systems: to reduce installation and safety challenges, maximise flexibility
  • improving robotic accuracy and dexterity: developing low cost metrology to self adjust
  • AI in robotic control: developments in machine learning to improve performance

Projects are also encouraged to consider, as an element of their project:

  • safety of HMI, including integration with smart cells
  • robot ethics, roboethics
  • equality, diversity and inclusion opportunities
  • relevant standards compliance

This list is not intended to be exhaustive or limiting.

Interested in this call? Book a free consultation with our team
Book a Consultation
+44 (0) 1925 506 100
Contact Us
Thank you! We will be in touch shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.