Sector Competition: Strand 1 Manufacturing and Materials

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of £19 million for innovation projects in manufacturing and materials or infrastructure systems. A further £16 million is available for KTPs.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of £19 million

Opens: 28th Nov 2017

Closes: 31st Jan 2018

! This scheme is now closed

Innovate UK is to invest up to £19 million to support innovation across the manufacturing and materials and Infrastructure systems sectors. Funded projects will target opportunities that offer significant changes in productivity and cutting-edge innovations.

There will be:

  • up to £5 million for projects up to 12 months
  • up to £14 million for projects between 13 and 36 months

A further £16 million is available to fund Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

This competition has 2 strands. This is the Manufacturing and Materials strand. The other strand is Infrastructure Systems.

An eligible project, in manufacturing and materials, must cover at least one of the following areas:

  • innovation in a manufacturing system, technology, process or business model
  • innovation in materials development, properties, integration or reuse
  • a manufacturing or materials innovation, rather than a product innovation

Proposals must improve business growth and productivity or create export opportunities for at least one UK SME involved in the project.

The aim of this manufacturing and materials strand is to encourage and broaden innovation in the manufacturing and materials sector. Projects should target opportunities for significant changes in productivity and in cutting-edge innovations with significant potential for encouraging growth in all parts of the UK economy. Innovation is required to grow UK manufacturing productivity, increase material efficiency and sustain our competitiveness in the long term.

Examples for achieving this are:

  • developing more flexible and efficient processes
  • developing processes that enable faster and greater customisation of products, to satisfy consumer demands
  • developing materials for ease of manufacture
  • addressing the manufacturing readiness of growing sectors
  • developing materials to deliver targeted performance specifications
  • diversifying product and service lines to address new markets
  • developing novel services or business models that open up new sources of revenue from manufacturing

We encourage projects for manufacturing or materials innovations that have the potential to affect more than one application sector. We also strongly encourage projects that will focus on productivity challenges in manufacturing.

Specific strand 1 competition themes

Innovative projects are welcomed across the following main manufacturing and materials technology themes:

  • nanotechnology and nanomaterials
  • composite materials
  • coatings, thin films and surfaces
  • metals and metallurgy
  • ceramics
  • polymers
  • non-metallics
  • electronic and sensing materials
  • resource efficiency
  • assembly and joining
  • forming technologies
  • chemical and bio process
  • surface engineering
  • CAD/CAM/CAE/simulation, digital manufacturing
  • electronics manufacturing
  • sensor and instrument (design and manufacture)
  • material recovery and treatment
  • additive manufacturing and 3D printing

For further information on these themes. click here.


To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK-based business, university or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project work and intend to exploit the results in the UK

Any one business or RTO may lead on one application and partner in a further 2 applications.

If an RTO is:

  • the lead on an application they must have 2 business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size)
  • not the lead on any application, they can be a partner in any number of applications

Academics cannot lead on an application but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.


The research organisations in your consortium may share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

As part of this competition, Innovate UK also welcome applications for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). For further information please see the guidance for KTPs.

They will accept applications for KTPs in all disciplines and applications that can be considered to be within manufacturing and materials. That includes applications beyond the defined scope of this specific competition.

KTP applicants are subject to the same application deadline. However, KTP applicants should follow the specific guidance for KTPs. It is recommended that interested parties contact the relevant KTP Adviser in the first instance.

Funding and project details

Up to £19 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

  • Projects with costs under and including £100,000 can be single or collaborative but must be led by an SME.
  • Projects over £100,000 must be collaborative and involve an SME.

All projects must involve at least one SME and a business must lead the project.

Innovate UK will give priority to projects focusing on:

  • improving productivity within a business, a value chain or the economy as a whole
  • supporting the commercialisation of our world class research base
  • enabling a significant change in competitiveness in domestic or global markets
  • advancing business growth across the UK that will create more high-value jobs

Project types

Your project can focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. This will depend on the challenge.

For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, you could get up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business.

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business.