NATEP: helping SMEs innovate in aerospace

Key Features

UK micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million for industry led civil aerospace research projects.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2.5 million

Opens: 21st Oct 2019

Closes: 4th Dec 2019

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is working with the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Together we will invest up to £10 million in aerospace innovation projects as part of the ATI Programme.

This competition is the first of 4 rounds. Innovate UK plan to open the others every 6 months. The last round is scheduled for spring 2021.


The aim of this competition is to help SMEs to develop their own innovative technologies. These should enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business within the civil aerospace sector.

Your project must have a credible route to market and preferably have identified your end users. Your project should:

  • demonstrate improvement in business productivity and competitiveness
  • show clear benefit technically
  • be able to pull through new technology or processes for use in current or future product or manufacturing process
  • show clear benefit in creating or safeguarding jobs
  • be able to enhance capabilities within the broader aerospace industry, as well as other sectors including advanced manufacturing

Your project can focus one or more of the following value streams from the UK aerospace technology strategy, Raising Ambition (2016):

  • aircraft of the future
  • smart, connected and more electric aircraft
  • aerostructures of the future
  • propulsion of the future


Innovate UK are not funding:

  • projects primarily aligned to defence, space or other industrial sectors, but we will recognise dual-use technologies if the primary application is in civil aerospace
  • projects that cover fundamental research or experimental development
  • projects with scope outside of the UK Aerospace technology strategy


To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered SME
  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • plan to carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Innovate UK primarily expect to fund businesses that are new to research and development (R&D) or are restarting R&D activity.

Academic institutions, charities, public sector organisations, and RTOs cannot lead.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • plan to carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding and enter their costs as part of the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses or an end user. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs.

Funding Costs

There is up to £2.5 million allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You must show that you can provide match funding from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in.

For all projects, funding per organisation is limited to:

  • 50% for businesses (regardless of size)
  • 80% full economic costing (FEC) for academics
  • 100% grant for non-profit research and technology organisations, public sector organisations and charities

For all projects, no one project partner can incur more than 70% of the total project costs.

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total grant funding. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Projects must start by 1 May 2020 and end by 31 October 2021. They can last between 12 and 18 months.