Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory

Key Features

UK registered businesses and organisations can apply for a share of up to £20m for digital innovation projects that will improve the resource efficiency and energy efficiency of manufacturing processes in factories.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £20 million

Opens: 1st Nov 2021

Closes: 26th Jan 2022

! This scheme is now closed

Overview

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects. These will be for innovation in digital technologies to reduce environmental impact within manufacturing processes.

Scope

The aim of this competition is to develop digital innovations to improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes, resulting in either reduced material or reduced energy consumption.

Your project must apply digital technology development to improve manufacturing processes within a production facility, to deliver more environmentally sustainable production processes.

Your project must focus on developing digital solutions to:

  • reduce the amount of waste or other in-process material losses through the manufacturing steps
  • reduce the energy consumed by a manufacturing process
  • better sequence or schedule the manufacturing operations to reduce material or energy consumption
  • better separate waste materials to facilitate material reuse

Your project must be an innovative development or novel application of data or an industrial digital technology (IDT). This must result in either reduced material consumption or reduced energy consumption.

Your project must estimate the material or energy savings using the Resource Efficiency and Energy Efficiency (REEE) definitions. Savings must be from the manufacturing process, including any savings from reduction material purchases and associated embodied CO2e reduction.

  • Resource Efficiency (RE): a reduction in material wastage throughout the manufacturing processes, including bought in-materials and expressed as Tonnes of material saved and the equivalent embodied CO2e.
  • Energy Efficiency (EE): a reduction in electric, gas or equivalent power consumption expressed in kWh power saved and equivalent CO2e.

Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) can include, but are not limited to:

  • AI and machine learning
  • industrial internet of things (IIoT) and connectivity
  • robotics and automation
  • augmented reality and virtual reality
  • additive manufacturing
  • digital twin

Your project must fit into one of the 2 strands for this competition.

Specific Themes

Your project can only apply to either Strand 1 or Strand 2.

You must apply to the strand which most closely fits your project.

Your project must focus on one or more of the themes within the 2 strands for this competition.

You will be asked in your application which theme or themes your project focuses on.

Strand 1 – Digital innovation with manufacturing data:

  • data capture
  • data visualisation
  • pattern identification
  • autonomous decision & action

IDTs within strand 1 can include AI and Machine Learning.

Strand 2 – Digital innovation in manufacturing processes:

Projects can comprise of any other Industrial Digital Technology (IDT) where the activity meets the scope of the call.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • industrial internet of things (IIoT) and connectivity
  • robotics and automation
  • augmented reality and virtual reality
  • additive manufacturing
  • digital twin

Eligibility

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £8 million
  • not exceed the maximum grant limit of 50% of your total eligible costs for strand 1
  • not exceed the maximum grant limit of 40% of your total eligible costs for strand 2
  • start by 1 September 2022
  • last between 12 and 24 months
  • involve a single factory or multiple factories
  • include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities in your consortium
  • be applicable to at least 1 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.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • involve at least one SME

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTO’s) cannot lead.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

Exclusions

Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • apply for a grant level in excess of the limit for the competition strand
  • include an overseas partner
  • are not showing how both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities are represented in the consortium
  • are not focused on activities for manufacturing production processes
  • are not delivering CO2e or kWh savings from within the manufacturing processes
  • are primarily focused on design, use phase or end of life
  • are general factory infrastructure for example heating and lighting
  • are primarily focused on switching to a different energy source
  • are construction, other than manufacturing activities carried out off-site within a permanent fixed factory
  • are offsite repair and overhaul
  • are activities focused on supply chain connectivity, warehouses, distribution centres or flying factories
  • are projects where the main exploitation route is not within manufacturing
  • 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
  • are 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

Innovate UK have allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

For strand 1, the total grant funding for your project must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs.

For strand 2, the total grant funding for your project must not exceed 40% of your total eligible project costs.

For both strands these limits are regardless of the individual partners’ grant claims. Individual organisations may need to adjust their grant request, for projects to remain within the overall maximum grant limit against total eligible project costs. Research organisation costs must be taken into account to ensure that the total grant applied for does not exceed these limits.

If the majority of 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.

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

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