SBRI competition: Improving operations through machine learning

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £250,000 to develop machine learning solutions that will improve Innovate UK’s operations

Programme:     SBRI

Award:     Up to £50k

Opens: 24th Jul 2017

Closes: 13th Sep 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The aim of this competition is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Innovate UK’s operational functions.

As many ideas as possible are welcome for the application of machine learning to Innovate UK’s existing data. You should show how you would develop and test a prototype application to:

  • improve operational efficiency
  • improve the efficiency and quality of decision-making, both pre and post-funding award

2 areas have identified where machine learning could help reduce costs and work more efficiently have been identified:

1. Assessor allocation: identifying key words from funding applications to allocate appropriate assessors. Currently Innovate UK  use a time-consuming manual allocation process. Using machine learning would help Innovate UK move towards a more automated assessor allocation. It would also lead to improved quality and robustness in the assessment process. They would save money and allow their teams to focus on more value-added activities. This would help them fund successful projects more quickly.

2. Checking for undeclared re-submissions: searching for re-submissions, duplicate and reassessed applications. Currently Innovate UK do this manually. They could save money by automating this process and reducing the possibility of fraud.

These are 2 possibilities and there are more below, however other ideas are welcome:

  • analysing competition queries, complaints and enquiries data to improve the quality of our communications
  • gathering information automatically from different styles of application form and representing that data in a meaningful and readily-accessible way
  • learning from project outcomes to better inform competition and project design
  • learning from economic exploitation data to better inform investment decisions
  • using monitoring reporting data to inform continuous improvement of monitoring services
  • reducing the potential for fraud
  • improving the accuracy of expenditure claims forecasting helping us to schedule projects more effectively

Innovate UK’s aim is for efficiency savings to cover the cost of the project investment.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to take part in phase 2.







To lead a project, you must be an organisation of any size.

Innovate UK  have allocated up to £250,000 including VAT to fund innovative feasibility study projects in phase 1 of this competition.

Project details

In phase 1 you will develop a tool or service as part of the feasibility study. Projects should last up to 4 months. They can range in size up to a total cost of £50,000 each, including VAT.

Your proposal should include:

  • details of how you plan to carry out the research and development project
  • a breakdown of your proposed costs
  • a plan for the ongoing support of your proposed tool or service
  • a plan for commercialisation

If your proposal is successful, we will expect you to engage with Innovate UK to:

  • support the development of the solution
  • support the user experience
  • validate the proposed performance of the solution

Developments will be 100% funded.

Innovate UK  will select suppliers for each project through an open competition process. You will keep the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated from the project. Innovate UK will keep some rights of use.