January 2018 sector competition: strand 2, emerging and enabling technologies

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £19 million to develop innovations in emerging and enabling technologies or health and life sciences. A further £12 million is available for KTPs.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Up to £1.4m

Opens: 22nd Jan 2018

Closes: 28th Mar 2018

! This scheme is now closed

The aim of this emerging and enabling strand is to help businesses to innovate in order to find sources of revenue from new products, processes or services.

To be considered, proposals must:

  • show significant innovation in one of our 4 priority areas (described further in the ‘Specific themes’ section)
  • have outputs that can be applied in more than one industry, sector or market
  • improve business growth or productivity, or create export opportunities for at least one UK SME involved in the project

Where possible, all projects should take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.

Projects costing more than £500k and lasting 2 years or longer must include human-centred research and design activities within the first 6 months of the project. This is unless the applicant can demonstrate an existing, thorough understanding of customer or user needs.

To carry out human-centred design you should:

  • investigate the needs of important stakeholders (such as potential customers, end users, investors or delivery partners)
  • use that research to define what attributes a desirable solution should have
  • explore and test a broad range of possible solutions, and agree on the best investment-ready idea

Where applicable, please consider the cyber security implications in your proposal.

Specific themes

Choose one priority area for your innovation. There are 4 themes for this competition.

  1. Emerging technologies
  2. Digital technology
  3. Enabling capabilities
  4. Space applications

For more information on all of these themes, click here. 

Project types 

  • For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 70% if you are an SME.
  • For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 45% if you are an SME.


To be eligible for funding you must:

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

The lead organisation must claim funding through this competition. If the project is collaborative, at least one other organisation in the consortium must also claim funding.

All projects must involve an SME. Only an SME can lead projects with costs up to and including £100K.

Project size

Project’s total costs should be between £35k and £2m. Projects should last between 3 months and 3 years.


Up to £19m has been allocated to fund innovation projects across both strands in this competition. Up to £9.5m is allocated for strand 2, emerging and enabling technologies. Another £9.5m is allocated to health and life sciences.

Projects with costs:

  • up to and including £100k can be single or collaborative but must be led by an SME
  • over £100k must be collaborative, include a funded partner and involve an SME

There is funding available of up to:

  • £7.5 million for projects that have eligible costs of up to £100k and last between 3 and 12 months
  • £11.5m for projects that have eligible costs of up to £2 million and last between 1 and 3 years
  • £12m for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)