Future Flight Challenge – Discovery Workshop

Key Features

A 2 day discovery workshop for successful applicants to refine, validate and collaborate on the challenge of Future Flight against 6 problem statements.

Programme:     Innovate UK


Opens: 30th Sep 2019

Closes: 21st Nov 2019

! This scheme is now closed


The Future Flight Challenge will develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems enabling the introduction of new classes of electric and/or autonomous air vehicles. These could include drones, urban air mobility vehicles or electric regional aircraft.

Your submission must briefly describe your plans and ideas for all 3 phases of the competition.

This phase is for the selection of individuals to attend the discovery workshop, at which the participants will explore the challenges and form collaborations for the future phases.

In phase 2, approximately over a 12-month period, it is expected that your consortium will develop their projects further in detail.

In phase 3, approximately over a 2-year period, Innovate UK expect your consortium to demonstrate real-life representative examples to address the problem statements and to be delivered by collaborating businesses including regulation, air traffic management, example customers, infrastructure, and societal engagement.


Your proposal must respond to one or more of the following problem statements suggested by the Future Flight Challenge:

Problem statement 1

The full range of drone applications is stifled by the absence of the physical and data infrastructures needed to exploit the potential of the global market.

Problem statement 2

Current air traffic management systems are not scalable. They will not cope with the change in volume of traffic, growing density, increasing diversity of airspace users and the demand for fully integrated, non-segregated airspace.

Problem statement 3

There are no clear technology, regulatory or operational paths between piloted and remotely piloted with visual line of sight (VLOS), and remotely piloted Beyond VLOS (BVLOS) and fully autonomous air vehicle operation. There is a need to develop the technologies to create these integrated systems while maintaining high levels of safety.

Problem statement 4

There is a need to move towards more electric flight by creating pathways between urban, sub-regional class vehicles, and larger aircraft, based on market driven technology.

Problem statement 5

There is a need to develop use cases and operational frameworks to enable public engagement and create market demand for the adoption of autonomous air vehicles.

Problem statement 6

There is no aviation innovation or development environment that will allow real-life demonstration and evaluation of the issues presented in the first 5 problem statements.

Your application should also cover one or more of the following specific areas:

  • digital and physical infrastructure
  • certification
  • hybrid electric and advance propulsion concept
  • societal impact especially public perception
  • AI, autonomy and situational awareness
  • modelling and simulation


To be a discovery workshop participant, you must:

  • be willing to engage in collaborative activities
  • be available to attend the discovery workshop on 4 to 5 Feb 2020 in Birmingham (venue to be announced in the next few weeks)
  • have an open, engaging, flexible, imaginative and creative outlook
  • be able to develop new and highly original innovative ideas
  • be able to work constructively with people of diverse disciplines

Innovate UK are looking for people from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds. They want to introduce people who may not normally work together and ensure there is a range of expertise to cover the scope of the challenge. They will also be considering equality, inclusion and the diversity of participants.

The discovery workshop is especially suited to individuals and organisations who:

  • can step outside their own area of expertise or interest
  • are driven
  • enjoy creative activity
  • can think innovatively

The 2 day event is an intensive setting where you will be expected to develop potentially new approaches with individuals and organisations that you may not have worked with previously.

Your organisation:

  • must be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • must be willing to collaborate with other UK businesses, RTOs, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • can only apply for phases 2 and 3 in collaboration with others

In this phase, submissions are invited from individuals from existing consortia or from organisations who believe they can play a role in addressing the Future Flight problem statements. Each application (whether single applicant or already part of a consortium) can send up to 2 people to this event.

In phases 2 and 3, you:

  • must be a UK registered business to lead a project
  • must work in collaboration with other UK businesses, RTOs, public sector organisations, research organisations or charities
  • must plan to carry out your project work in the UK
  • must intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • can include non-UK businesses in your consortium, however they will not be able to claim any grant funding in future phases.

RTOs, charities and public sector organisations cannot lead a project in future phases of FFC.

You can apply for future phases of this competition even if you do not attend the discovery workshop.

Funding Costs

Up to £125 million is available to fund collaborative innovation projects in future phases.

Innovate UK will pay your residential and subsistence costs for the discovery workshop, excluding alcohol. You will pay your travel costs to and from the event.

You will not be paid for attending the discovery workshop or for the development of your proposal.

Any research organisations collaborating as part of a consortium in phases 2 and 3, may share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

It is expected that each project in future phases will have total eligible costs between £5 million and £20 million.