Sector Competition: Strand 2 Infrastructure Systems

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £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 up to £19m

Opens: 28th Nov 2017

Closes: 31st Jan 2018

! This scheme is now closed

Innovate UK is to invest up to £19 million in innovation projects to encourage UK business growth in manufacturing and materials or infrastructure systems. Innovate UK want businesses to collaborate on new integrated solutions and business models.

There will be:

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

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

This competition has 2 strands; this is the Infrastructure Systems strand.


The aim of this Infrastructure Systems strand is to encourage innovation in infrastructure systems that provide critical services for our economy, environment and society.

The UK has the potential to lead the world in the priority areas described in ‘Specific competition themes’. below.  Proposals  must show significant innovation in one of those themes.

Proposals must improve business growth and productivity or create export opportunities for at least one UK SME involved in the project. Innovate UK expect applicants to describe how the proposed innovation project fits into your partners’ overall international strategies.

You must consider the security implications of your solution.

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

All projects must involve an SME. SMEs can be the sole applicant on a project lasting less than a year and with costs below £100,000. In all other cases projects must involve at least 2 collaboration partners.

Infrastructure systems projects between 3 months to 1 year may be single or collaborative but must be led by an SME.

For projects with total costs between £100,000 and £3 million they must last between 1 to 3 years. These projects must be collaborative and involve an SME.

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.

Specific strand 2 competition themes

Projects which address any of the 4 priority areas of infrastructure systems are welcomed:

  1. Smart infrastructure

Smart infrastructure solutions will bring the digital and physical worlds together. They must add intelligence to physical infrastructure, or the design process, to improve:

  • whole-life cost or performance
  • resilience, security or sustainability

2. Urban living

An urban living solution must address challenges citizens face in urban areas. It must cover more than one urban infrastructure system and provide significant improvements in costs and user experience. Urban infrastructure systems include:

  • ‘hard’ systems, such as energy, transport, waste, water and communication
  • ‘soft’ systems, such as security, law and justice (for example, public order and safety), health, wellbeing, social care and education
  • ‘environmental’ systems, such as green spaces and waterways

You must demonstrate that your solution is:

  • citizen-centred, solving problems that are important to cities and deliver tangible benefits to all citizens
  • resilient and sustainable, by being designed and integrated in a way that makes it able to adapt to changes or reduce their negative effects

3. Energy supply and systems

We are looking for innovations that improve value proposition, energy affordability and security, and reduce emissions in one of the following areas:

1. Energy supply. Solutions should either:

  • lead to major cost reductions, improved asset integrity and supply chain development for nuclear fission. This will be for current and future UK and global civil nuclear markets, including decommissioning, or
  • result in substantial reductions in the cost of energy from offshore wind

2. Energy systems. Solutions should flexibly match energy supply and demand profiles. Applications must either:

  • create or demonstrate smart system solutions that integrate energy generation and demand at local, regional or national scale, or
  • improve the ease and cost of integration of distributed generation

Solutions might include:

  • methods to shift peak energy use
  • advanced system management
  • the optimisation of distributed generation or the flexible management of multiple energy supply or demand sources

We encourage energy systems solutions that increase performance across different energy vectors, such as electricity and heat. We would also like to see solutions that address intermittency, power quality and provision of ancillary services from offshore wind.

4. Connected transport

We are looking for solutions that move people and goods more efficiently, and make transport more secure, user-centric and accessible. The project must show clear capability to connect infrastructure, people and goods with additional modes of transport.

Your application must address one of these 3 areas:

1. Capacity and congestion across different modes of transport. This includes freight and logistics (including ports), aviation (customer experience and connection services) and multi-modal passenger transport. We encourage solutions in smart asset management, mobility as a service, and the end-to-end journey, such as parking or better connections between modes of transport.

2. Accessible and safe transport for all sectors of society. We welcome projects that encourage innovation in accessible transport and a change in people’s travel behaviour.

3. Sustainability, including improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions and future-proofing connected transport.