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Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator

General & Misc
Project Size:
£1.95 million - 2 million

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in an innovation project. This will be to deliver the Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator through the Made Smarter Innovation challenge.

The aim of this competition is to identify the delivery partner organisations.

Your proposal must evidence why your organisation or organisations are best placed to recruit Industrial Challenge Owners, technology sponsors and start-up or scale-up participants. You must explain how you will innovate to maximise impact with the resources and capabilities at your disposal.

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


This award is provided on a No subsidy basis. This means you must publish or make all project outputs openly available on a non-selective basis. If you decide to commercially exploit project outputs, you can only do so with no selective advantage.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £1.95 million and £2 million
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 September 2024
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

If your project’s 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 or work alone your organisation must:

Your proposal must involve one or more Catapult Network organisations either as the lead organisation or as a grant claiming part of the project team.

The Catapult involvement is required to facilitate the cascade of funding from Innovate UK. The award from Innovate UK to grant recipients for this competition will be at 100% on a no-subsidy basis.

Your proposed cascade funding to start-ups and scale-ups will be awarded by your accelerator under minimal financial assistance (MFA), with the start-ups and scale-ups self certificating.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • 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 claim funding by entering their costs during 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 research organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO) can lead on multiple applications and can also be included as a collaborator in multiple applications.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

The aim of this competition is to identify the delivery partner organisations for the Made Smarter Innovation challenge: sustainability in manufacturing accelerator.

Your proposal must show how you will:

  • recruit Industrial Challenge Owners, representative of the spectrum of manufacturing industry in the UK, and assist in identification of resource and energy efficiency challenges that can be realistically addressed by UK start-ups and scale-ups
  • recruit technology sponsors able to provide expertise and financial support
  • recruit technology start-ups and scale-ups, particularly those specialised in artificial intelligence (AI) through fair competition
  • execute an accelerator programme where start-ups and scale-ups are mentored technically and commercially to respond to the industrial challenges identified and increase their commercial maturity
  • deliver events at key milestone points to showcase outcomes and facilitate start-up and scale-up pitches to a curated group of investors
  • demonstrate how a minimum of 50% industry form 2 co-investment will be achieved, such as through Industry Challenge Owners, technology sponsor contributions or other means

You must:

  • evidence how you have the best possible project team to deliver your project
  • demonstrate innovation in your approach to delivery to maximise impact, considering factors such as participant engagement strategies, financial structure, use of stages, cohort groups and sub-contract support, for commercial mentoring and development
  • show how financial contributions will flow and how the project will conform with subsidy control regimes

Portfolio approach

We want to fund a project, at the discretion of the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director, that achieves the desired portfolio characteristics of the challenge. These characteristics include the diversity of delivery partners, geographic location and sector orientation. We call this a portfolio approach

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on:

  • recruitment of industrial challenge owners, technology sponsors and start-up and scale-up participants to maximise impacts, for example identifying industrial challenges that are generalisable and that lead to rapidly scalable technological solutions
  • contributing to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy in the areas of resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE)
  • maximising the likelihood of forms 3 and 4 follow-on co-investment

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