ATI programme: batch 43 SME

Key Features

The ATI Programme funds industrial research to make the UK civil aerospace sector more competitive. This is an invite only competition, you must be invited into the competition by Innovate UK.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £685 million

Opens: 22nd Apr 2024

Closes: 29th May 2024

! This scheme is now closed


The ATI Programme has been allocated £685 million from the government for the financial years 2022 to 2023 through 2024 to 2025.

This programme is co-ordinated and managed by:

  1. The Department for Business and Trade (DBT).
  2. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
  3. The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

All three organisations work in partnership, offering support to deliver a portfolio of projects. Projects must meet the objectives and priorities of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, and to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace.

UK registered businesses of any size must be invited into this competition by Innovate UK and can lead an industrial research project.

This is phase 2 of an SME competition within the ATI Programme. There are two phases to each SME competition. The whole assessment process takes at least six months.

  1. Outline stage (OS): opens regularly and your proposal is reviewed by the Aerospace Technology Institute only. The DBT is responsible for the decision to progress your OS proposal to phase 2 based on the Aerospace Technology Institute’s recommendation. There is no funding in this phase, funding will be awarded in phase 2.
  2. Full stage application (FSA) Batch 43 SME projects (this competition): Your proposal will be subject to an independent assessment by Innovate UK, value for money (VfM) and policy review by DBT and strategic review by the Aerospace Technology Institute in parallel.

The DBT as the budget holder for the ATI Programme has the final funding decision.


Your project must have a primary application within the civil aerospace sector. This can include dual use technologies.

Your proposal must align with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, Destination Zero, which is split into these areas:

  • zero-carbon emission aircraft technologies: zero-carbon emission technologies are focused on propulsion and infrastructure development to enable zero-carbon tailpipe emissions. This encompasses battery, hydrogen, and fuel cell technologies, much of which are in early stages of development
  • ultra-efficient aircraft technologies: ultra-efficient technologies are focused on improving energy efficiency and hence impact CO2 emissions, NOx and noise. Continued development of crucial high value, sustainable, high productivity manufacturing technologies will position the UK to be a first choice location for the industry
  • cross-cutting enabling technologies: To enable both the zero-carbon and ultra-efficient opportunities, the UK must develop cross-cutting enabling technologies and capabilities for whole aircraft design and analysis. These capabilities should extend to the aircraft lifecycle from design, through manufacture and assembly, operation, and end of life

The focus of the strategy and DBT’s investments is to deliver clean growth for the UK aerospace sector. These technologies will deliver lower emissions, improved competitiveness and grow the UK’s market share.

The ATI Programme partners will monitor changes between your phase 1 and phase 2 submissions. We will not accept unjustified major changes in the consortium or costs.

Applications for the ATI Programme are assessed by the three partner organisations in parallel:

  • The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) VfM and policy assessment: scrutinises each project according to its value for money (VfM), wider exploitation and fit with policy priorities
  • Aerospace Technology Institute strategic assessment: examines the project for contribution and alignment to the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, and to the broader portfolio
  • Innovate UK independent assessment: provides an independent technical assessment

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and location. We call this a portfolio approach. The Department for Business and Trade has the final funding decision.


Your project

The grant funding you can apply for is limited.

Your project must:

  • have total grant funding request of no more than £1.5 million
  • have a duration of between 12 and 36 months
  • be appropriate and in proportion to the planned objectives and priorities within the submitted proposal

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone you must:

  • be invited into the competition by Innovate UK
  • be a UK registered micro, small or medium sized enterprise
  • be a UK registered business of any size with at least one micro, small or medium sized enterprise in the consortium
  • plan to carry out your aerospace research project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • align to the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, Destination Zero
  • sign up to the Aerospace Technology Institute framework agreement on the ATI website
  • claim funding by entering costs into the Innovation Funding Service during the application

Innovate UK will make your application ineligible and it will not be assessed if you have not been invited into the competition by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department for Business and Trade.

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)
  • research organisation

Your organisation must:

  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • sign up to the Aerospace Technology Institute framework agreement

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs in the application.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. 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. The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) will review this on a case-by-case basis.

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

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in two further applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.

An academic institution, charity, public sector organisation and research and technology organisation can collaborate on any number of applications.

If you apply to the SME competition and the ATI programme strategic batch and you are successful in both, you can only accept one of the awards.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • have not been invited by Innovate UK to enter this competition
  • are outside the scope of the UK aerospace technology strategy
  • are focused solely on defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual use technologies providing the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • are focused on fundamental research, early-stage technologies or experimental development
  • are conducting feasibility studies

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

The ATI Programme has been allocated £685 million from the government for the financial years 2022 to 2023 through 2024 to 2025. The DBT have allocated up to £10 million per year for the SME competitions. The SME competitions will align with the strategic batch competitions, which run three times per year.

Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

The balance between your total project costs and the amount of grant awarded must be funded by the organisation receiving the grant.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

The funding rates are a maximum rate, the funding you request should be the minimum amount to make your project viable. This is something DBT will review as part of their value for money (VfM) assessment.

Micro, small and medium company participation

At least 50% of the total eligible project costs must be borne by UK registered micro, small and medium sized companies undertaking economic activity as part of the project.

Large company participation

UK registered large businesses undertaking economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one large business undertaking economic activity, this maximum will be shared between them.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can claim grant funding of:

  • up to 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • up to 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.