Innovation in time dissemination and application

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for business-led innovation in resilient time, frequency and synchronisation. This funding is from the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF).

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 19th Apr 2021

Closes: 9th Jun 2021

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is working with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to invest up to £2 million in feasibility studies for innovation in the dissemination and application of resilient time, frequency and synchronisation (TFS).


The aim of this competition is to:

  • support and enable industry-led innovation across the UK supply chain in resilient time, frequency, and synchronisation (TFS), for the development of products, services, and end user applications
  • develop a TFS ecosystem and capability for relevant industries and critical national infrastructure
  • disrupt and create new markets to improve the provision of TFS

Your project must deliver a feasibility study for an innovative development and demonstrate a route to market.

Projects must be focused on one or more of these development areas relating to the dissemination of TFS:

  • products
  • services
  • protocols and algorithms
  • standards

Innovate UK are looking for your projects to be scalable, geographically or across applications.

Your project should lead to the following types of impact for the UK:

  • economic, including new revenue, cost savings, other economic impacts
  • national capability in TFS

During the project, NPL can provide up to 12 hours of free consultancy and free access to highly accurate and traceable time and frequency signals from four locations in the south-east of England. These include an experimental test facility and validation and characterisation capabilities.

If you require access to consultancy or test facilities, you must:

  1. Make a request by e-mail to the Innovate UK Customer Support Service at least 10 working days before the submission deadline.
  2. Download, complete and upload the NPL technical annex as part of your answer in question 4.

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:


Your project must enable end users to have access to improved time or frequency signals.

You must include one or more of the following:

  • dissemination to multiple users
  • scalability
  • accessibility (geography)
  • ubiquity and availability, including rural and GNSS denied locations

For example, developments could include scalability to users at the edge of networks or to those currently without access.

Trust, assurance and security

Your project must contribute to the trust, assurance and security of time or frequency signals from the source to the end user (or a defined subset of this path).

You must include one or more of the following:

  • integrity
  • accuracy (absolute time value at the end user compared to the traceable source)
  • confidence in end-to-end transmission
  • validation

This could, for example, relate to audit and certification of time signals at various levels of accuracy or signal integrity when transferring time signals over distances and mediums. Algorithms and protocols, especially those that increase the integrity of timing signals, are also in scope.


Your project must contribute to the resilience of the time dissemination supply chain in one or more of the following:

  • availability (continuity of signal)
  • redundancy and holdover
  • alerting and monitoring


Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £250,000
  • end by 31 May 2022
  • last between 4 and 6 months

Projects can start from 1 October 2021.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • if collaborative, partner with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, research and technology organisations (RTO), academic institutions, public sector organisations or charities
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research organisations cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, research organisation, research and technology organisation (RTO), academic institution, public sector organisation or charity
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If collaborating, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Funding Costs

Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies, 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 research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% 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.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • exclusively related to atomic clock development
  • exclusively related to the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
  • dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example if they insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product

Projects which involve the integration of atomic clocks or GNSS into timing systems would be in scope.