Made Smarter Innovation: Industry ready Robotics and Automation

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £6 million for late-stage robotics and automation innovation projects. This is to develop industrially ready solutions deployable within manufacturing processes in factories.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £6 million

Opens: 19th Jan 2023

Closes: 5th Apr 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £6 million in innovation projects. These will be for innovation in late-stage robotics and automation to increase productivity, sustainability and resilience within manufacturing processes.


The aim of this competition is to develop and demonstrate industrially ready robotics and automation solutions deployable within a factory production area.

Your project must:

  • deliver an innovative digital development or significantly novel application of late stage robotics and automation
  • overcome a technical barrier within manufacturing processes in a factory production setting

Your project must focus on demonstrating the robotic and automation innovations to deliver productivity, sustainability and resilience improvements to the manufacturing process.

Your project must:

  • be robotics or automation focused within a factory production area
  • be focused on value-adding production tasks or directly associated load, unload and move tasks
  • include a physical deployment within a manufacturing facility or very near equivalent, for example, a comparable development facility
  • demonstrate a clear, scalable commercial exploitation route within the project consortium

Innovate UK encourage you to:

  • demonstrate clear, scalable commercial exploitation route to other manufacturers and manufacturing sectors beyond the initial project consortium itself
  • include a demonstrator element with access beyond the project timescales (host visits, on-line access, video footage)

Specific Themes

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

  • flexible and modular automation: driving repurposing and flexible redeployment to maximise use life
  • systems integration: productising scalable commercial solutions
  • mobile robotics: including modular robots and multi purpose
  • human assisted and cobots: including ethics and human machine interface (HMI)
  • no-code and low-code solutions: to improve SME accessibility and lower access cost
  • flexible packaged solutions: reconfigurable modular solutions, tight access retrofit, hygiene friendly
  • gripper and end-effector optimization: especially for challenging production environments, fragile, shape
  • self powered or cableless systems: to reduce installation and safety challenges, maximise flexibility
  • improving robotic accuracy and dexterity: developing low cost metrology to self adjust
  • AI in robotic control: developments in machine learning to improve performance

Projects are also encouraged to consider, as an element of their project:

  • safety of HMI, including integration with smart cells
  • robot ethics, roboethics
  • equality, diversity and inclusion opportunities
  • relevant standards compliance

This list is not intended to be exhaustive or limiting.


Your project must:

  • have total costs between £200,000 and £4 million
  • not exceed the maximum grant limit of 50% of your total costs
  • start by 1 October 2023
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 9 months and 15 months
  • involve at least one factory
  • include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities in your consortium
  • be applicable to at least one manufacturing sector
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Innovate UK encourage projects that cover multiple manufacturing sectors.

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.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

A business can only lead on two applications within this competition but can be included as a collaborator in a further two applications.

If a business is not leading any application it can collaborate in up to four applications within this competition.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • outside of the value adding production area
  • focused on activities outside of manufacturing production processes
  • mainly installing currently available technologies and involve minimal innovation
  • where the main exploitation route is not within manufacturing
  • early stage feasibility projects
  • activities focused on goods-in or warehousing
  • activities focussed on distribution centres, supply chain connectivity or flying factories
  • construction, other than manufacturing activities carried out off-site within a permanent fixed factory
  • offsite repair and overhaul
  • focussed on product design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA), unless this is only a minor element of robotic innovation
  • business process automation (BPA) to automate business transactions through robotic process automation (RPA) of data

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

Funding Costs

Up to £6 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The total grant funding request for your project must not exceed 50% of your total project costs. This limit applies regardless of the individual partners grant claims or research category chosen.

Individual organisations may need to adjust their grant request, for projects to remain within the overall maximum grant limit against total project costs. Research organisation costs must be taken into account to ensure that the total grant applied for does not exceed these limits.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For industrial research projects, 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

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 a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

Projects that span more than one category of research must enter the research category that reflects the majority of your work.

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% 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.

Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

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.