Launchpad: digital technologies, North East England – R1 CR&D

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for business led projects that grow activities in the digital technologies cluster in North East England. This funding is from Innovate UK.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 30th Oct 2023

Closes: 13th Dec 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £2 million in innovation projects.

The funding will support projects across the three Launchpad competition strands that target the innovation cluster in North East England.


The aim of this competition is to support outstanding innovation projects led by businesses. Your business must be active or growing work activities in the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England, consisting of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.

The geographical requirement is set to align this competition to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Your project must focus on digital technologies that can be applied in growing and emerging markets.

Growing or emerging markets, include but are not limited too:

  • advanced manufacturing
  • agriculture and forestry
  • automotive and transportation
  • creative industries
  • culture, tourism, leisure and sport
  • green industries
  • health
  • offshore industries
  • retail and town centre

Your project must lead to increased investment into research and innovation. It must contribute to growing business activities and economic impact in the cluster.

Your proposal must explain how your team and project will contribute to equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in the cluster.

Portfolio approach
Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across different durations, locations, and themes. We call this a portfolio approach.

In support of the Government’s Levelling Up goals, we reserve the right to prioritise projects that:

  • are shorter in duration
  • significantly advance innovation in digital technologies for growing and emerging markets
  • are led by businesses already based in the innovation cluster
  • have greater levels of activity outside the Greater South East

Specific Themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following technologies:

Immersive technologies

  • extended reality
  • digital twins
  • games engines
  • virtual production

Artificial intelligence

  • data science
  • machine learning
  • neural networks
  • computer vision
  • robotics
  • large language models
  • quantum computing

These lists are not exhaustive. Where you can show your proposal fits within the scope of this competition you can focus on other technologies.


Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request of between £150,000 and £1 million
  • last between 6 and 18 months
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start at the earliest on 1 April 2024
  • end by 31 March 2026

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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • be active or growing your work activities in the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England
  • have a demonstrable ambition for business growth

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

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)

The contribution of project partners must add to the innovation led growth of the cluster.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service 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 the Innovation Funding Service. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into 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. Their contribution must add to the innovation led growth of the cluster.

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

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A business can lead on only one CR&D strand application for this competition, but can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

If you apply to the MFA strand of this competition, as well as this CR&D strand, each project must be clearly distinctive and separate. We will monitor closely for this separation if you are awarded funding in both competition strands.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not contribute to innovation activity in the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England
  • are within scope of the Cluster management strand of this Launchpad competition
  • request grant funding of less than £150,000 or more than £1 million

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

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.