Design Foundations: Repairability

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for people centred and systemic design projects to inform and de-risk future R&D activity.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 30th Oct 2023

Closes: 10th Jan 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in innovation projects that use design methods.

Eligible organisations can apply for funding to use people centred and systemic design methods to:

  • improve existing innovative ideas
  • generate new ideas in response to a known need or opportunity
  • identify new opportunities to innovate and plan how to respond to them


The aim of this competition is to help businesses adopt people-centric and systemic design principles to lay the foundations for innovative ideas with the potential to deliver significant benefits. These can be ideas for new or significantly improved products, services, places, or business models.

The focus of this competition is repairability, or Design for Repair (DfR), which is a design philosophy that aims to make products and services more easily repairable.

Your proposal must fall within one or more of the following categories:

  • Modularity and Accessibility: simplify the repair process and ensure that critical parts are not buried deep within the design
  • Standardisation and Compatibility: compatibility in all aspects including, industry standards and interoperability with other systems
  • Design for Durability: prioritise the use of high quality components and to ensure long-lasting value thorough testing
  • Extended Lifecycles and Lifecycle Assessment: consider adaptability to changing and emerging technologies, and support for legacy systems, evaluate environmental and societal impact for informed design decisions
  • Eco-Design and Circularity: promote sustainability, recyclability and reusability using design principles such as cradle-to-cradle (C2C) and biomimicry
  • Design for Resilience: increase resilience to external shocks and unexpected challenges, for example economic downturns and supply chain disruptions

In all cases, projects must explore opportunities and ideas from the perspective of the people who will be involved with or affected by them. Their experiences, motivations and behaviour must be allowed to shape the challenge and ideas to make sure that:

  • the most important and valuable problems and opportunities are being addressed
  • proposed solutions are more desirable, equitable and beneficial
  • new ideas are more likely to be adopted or promote positive changes in behaviour

Your project must include activities to identify and involve relevant stakeholders sufficiently early and at appropriate points throughout the project. Your team must reflect the characteristics, culture and lived experiences of the people they are designing for or take steps to bring those perspectives into the project in a meaningful way.

Any prototyping activity within your project must:

  • focus primarily on making discoveries about the quality of experience, the likelihood of the idea being adopted or its potential to promote positive changes in behaviour
  • be as quick and low cost as possible, and aim for the lowest level of fidelity or functionality necessary to get the required feedback
  • be used to share ideas and make discoveries early in the design process, so they can be acted on before it becomes prohibitively expensive or time consuming to do so

Successful applicants are encouraged to respond to feedback and new discoveries made during the research and design process. This might include abandoning or rethinking their original ideas and changing the focus of planned R&D activity. Innovate UK will consider well-justified project change requests submitted via a project’s allocated monitoring service provider.

Applications are encouraged from organisations that have not previously used people-centred or systemic design processes or expertise. We encourage applicants to work with design experts as partners or subcontractors to get the best results and to develop their own understanding and design capabilities.

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

We reserve the right to select a portfolio of winners, subject to meeting the quality threshold, that:

  • represent a range of themes, sectors, design applications and outputs
  • are located throughout the UK
  • represent a range of company sizes

Specific Themes

The theme is repairability and is open to be applied in any product, service, place and business model, across all sectors.

Repairability is signifying an embedded and iterative optimisation looking toward change with long term benefits.


Your project must:

  • have total costs of between £40,000 and £80,000
  • your grant request must match your total project costs
  • last between 3 months and 6 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start on 1 June 2024
  • end by 30 November 2024

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.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be a charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

Lead organisations must agree to contribute up to two days in support of Innovate UK activities to promote the use of design in business innovation, or to help us improve our products and services. This activity could include, for example, taking part in interviews, supporting the creation of case studies, or contributing to seminars or showcases. You will not be required to share confidential information or intellectual property.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not-for-profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Your project team must include appropriate expertise in design. Lead organisations without this capability are encouraged to work with designers as project partners or subcontractors.

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 and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. The subcontractor’s costs must not exceed 75% of the total project cost.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

A business of any size, charity, not-for-profit or public sector organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

Subcontractors can contribute to any number of applications. Lead organisations are advised to be mindful of their chosen subcontractors’ capacity to deliver should they be involved in more than one successful application.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are a one time or occasional repair
  • are the design of experiments, policies or research methodologies
  • do not follow best practice, people and planet centred design methods and principles as described in the competition scope
  • focus on the final finish or specification of an idea where fundamental design decisions have already been made, for example, where new customer feedback or discoveries will have little influence on the design outcome
  • seek only to validate technical feasibility or progress the technology readiness level of an idea, rather than improving the quality of the experience or its benefits for people or the planet
  • are likely to be harmful to people or the planet

Innovate UK will also not fund projects that are proposals to create prototypes or demonstrators, in cases where:

  • the prototype requires a majority of the project cost or time to build
  • they are to be made fully functional
  • they are at considerable effort or cost
  • partial or simulated functionality would suffice
  • they are intended primarily to test technical feasibility or performance rather than the customer experience and benefits
  • they will only be shared with stakeholders late in the project, for example, with no time allowed to make changes in response to feedback

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that:

  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your total project costs will be 100% funded. Total project costs detailed within your application must not exceed the maximum project size of £80,000 and must match the funding requested. If your total project costs do exceed the maximum then your application will be made ineligible.

Once a project has started, grant payments can be claimed monthly, and payments will be made in arrears based on eligible costs incurred and evidenced during that month.

You can make reference to any additional voluntary contribution in your application answers. It must not be detailed in the finance section.


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.