SBRI: Quantum Catalyst Fund, phase 1 and phase 2

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £15 million inclusive of VAT, to develop proposals for the application of quantum technologies, that address challenges of interests for the UK Government.


Award:     Share of up to £15 million

Opens: 29th May 2023

Closes: 27th Jun 2023

! This scheme is now closed


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Innovate UK (IUK).


Quantum Technologies have developed greatly in the last ten years, helped by support from the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. However, there is a partial understanding of the potential of quantum technologies within the UK Government and the public sector.

The Quantum Catalyst is aimed at helping innovators and the UK Government to come to a common understanding. Looking at how the potential of quantum technologies meets the specific needs of a certain sector.

The aim of this competition is to explore the benefit of using quantum technologies in various areas of interest for the UK Government. Accelerating the adoption of quantum solutions by the public sector and for the public benefit.

The UK Government has already identified some areas of interest, but this is largely as an indication of critical areas rather than a list of mandatory topics:

  • Transport
  • Space
  • Health
  • Home Office
  • Position, Navigation, Timing (PNT)
  • Defence
  • Net Zero

In phase 1 you must conduct a desk study with detailed planning for a specific application of quantum technologies in the public sector. You must align this with the UK Governments areas of interest. Phase 1 is an opportunity to engage with a government department or organisation on the challenge you propose to develop further in phase 2.

In a Phase 2 demonstrator, your project will be tested to assure and prove that the developed proposal is suitable and feasible in meeting a specific need or problem for the Government.

Your project must:

  • show how your solution is expected to have an advantage over classical technologies
  • be willing to work with the UK Government’s end-users to define the specifications and requirements of the technology

Contracts will be given to successful applicants.

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only.

You must define your goals in your application and outline your plan for phase 2. This is part of the full commercial implementation in your phase 1 application.

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

Specific Themes

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

  • quantum sensing and imaging
  • quantum communications
  • quantum position, navigation and timing (PNT)
  • quantum components
  • quantum computing

Suggested challenge areas for the UK Government are:

  • underground and underwater survey
  • transport
  • navigation
  • earth observation
  • healthcare
  • environment
  • security
  • autonomous systems
  • telecommunications
  • emergency services and response
  • time and frequency dissemination
  • infrastructures
  • space
  • optimisation tasks

This list is not exhaustive.

Your proposal must address one or more challenge areas for the UK Government and present a credible and realistic solution, where quantum technologies can successfully be used.


Your phase 1 project must:

  • start by 1 September 2023
  • end by 30 November 2023
  • last up to 3 months

Your phase 2 project must:

  • start by 1 January 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • last up to 15 months

Your projects total duration will be up to 18 months. There will be an interlude after the 3 month phase 1. This is to assess the progress of phase 1 projects and review the end of phase reports, after which, phase 2 contracts will be issued to successful projects.

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors

This competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can engage specialists or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.


Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • do not make use of quantum technologies and their specific application in the public sector
  • do not use second generation quantum technologies, defined as those involving the generation and coherent control of quantum states, resulting in phenomena such as superposition or entanglement
  • directly duplicate other UK government or EU funded initiatives which you have been funded to deliver a technical feasibility study
  • do not cover areas of interest or challenges for the UK Government
  • are not original in their scope
  • do not address how any potentially negative outcomes, such as on the environment or society, would be managed

Funding Costs

A total of up to £15 million, inclusive of VAT, has been allocated to fund the 2 contract phases for this competition.

Up to £2 million, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 1 for feasibility study R&D contracts of up to £120,000, inclusive of VAT for up to 3 months.

Up to £13 million inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 2, for projects selected from phase 1. Phase 2 contracts of between £1 million and £2.5 million, inclusive of VAT will be awarded to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 15 months.

If your project’s total costs fall outside of our eligibility criteria for phase 2, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

The contract is completed at the end of phase 1. Selected projects will be offered a phase 2 contract to further demonstrate their proposed solution. Successful organisations are expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and suggest you seek independent advice from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

VAT registered

If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total. Your total project costs inclusive of VAT must not exceed £120,000.

Not VAT registered

If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered. Your total project costs must not exceed £120,000.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

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.