Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator

Key Features

UK research organisations can apply for up to £2 million for delivery of an artificial intelligence focused manufacturing sustainability accelerator.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up £2 million

Opens: 10th Oct 2022

Closes: 23rd Nov 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in an innovation project. This will be to deliver the Made Smarter Innovation: manufacturing sustainability accelerator through the Made Smarter Innovation challenge.


The aim of this competition is to identify the delivery partner organisations for the Made Smarter Innovation challenge: sustainability in manufacturing accelerator.

Your proposal must show how you will:

  • recruit Industrial Challenge Owners, representative of the spectrum of manufacturing industry in the UK, and assist in identification of resource and energy efficiency challenges that can be realistically addressed by UK start-ups and scale-ups
  • recruit technology sponsors able to provide expertise and financial support
  • recruit technology start-ups and scale-ups, particularly those specialised in artificial intelligence (AI) through fair competition
  • execute an accelerator programme where start-ups and scale-ups are mentored technically and commercially to respond to the industrial challenges identified and increase their commercial maturity
  • deliver events at key milestone points to showcase outcomes and facilitate start-up and scale-up pitches to a curated group of investors
  • demonstrate how a minimum of 50% industry form 2 co-investment will be achieved, such as through Industry Challenge Owners, technology sponsor contributions or other means

You must:

  • evidence how you have the best possible project team to deliver your project
  • demonstrate innovation in your approach to delivery to maximise impact, considering factors such as participant engagement strategies, financial structure, use of stages, cohort groups and sub-contract support, for commercial mentoring and development
  • show how financial contributions will flow and how the project will conform with subsidy control regimes

Innovate UK want to fund a project, at the discretion of the Made Smarter Innovation Challenge Director, that achieves the desired portfolio characteristics of the challenge. These characteristics include the diversity of delivery partners, geographic location and sector orientation. We call this a portfolio approach.

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on:

  • recruitment of industrial challenge owners, technology sponsors and start-up and scale-up participants to maximise impacts, for example identifying industrial challenges that are generalisable and that lead to rapidly scalable technological solutions
  • contributing to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy in the areas of resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE)
  • maximising the likelihood of forms 3 and 4 follow-on co-investment




This award is provided on a No subsidy basis. This means you must publish or make all project outputs openly available on a non-selective basis. If you decide to commercially exploit project outputs, you can only do so with no selective advantage.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £1.95 million and £2 million
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 September 2024
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK research organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • be or involve at least one Catapult Network organisation
  • not act in any way to gain selective commercial or economic advantage from the outputs of this project

Your proposal must involve one or more Catapult Network organisations either as the lead organisation or as a grant claiming part of the project team.

The Catapult involvement is required to facilitate the cascade of funding from Innovate UK. The award from Innovate UK to grant recipients for this competition will be at 100% on a no-subsidy basis.

Your proposed cascade funding to start-ups and scale-ups will be awarded by your accelerator under minimal financial assistance (MFA), with the start-ups and scale-ups self certificating.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding:

  • projects which are classed as State aid under EC regulations or a subsidy under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
  • undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding
  • projects that do not demonstrate credible reach across the UK
  • projects that do not demonstrate engagement with manufacturers from all sectors and technology companies not currently engaged in manufacturing

Funding Costs

Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund one accelerator project in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 100% of the total eligible project costs.

Of that 100% 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.