UK and South Korea data driven urban innovation Bi-Lateral

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million for CR&D projects with South Korea in this competition. The UK funding is from Innovate UK

Programme:     Innvovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £1 million

Opens: 10th Jan 2024

Closes: 21st Feb 2024

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £4 million across the 2 Phases of this competition. Innovate UK will work with the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) who will match the UK funding to support the South Korean partners.

This is a two phase bi-lateral collaborative research and development (CR&D) competition.


The aim of this competition is to fund business led, collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects which link activities in the UK and South Korea.

Your project must focus on exploring the potential of proposed data driven innovations in cities that will deliver positive impact around key urban issues such as:

  • sustainability
  • liveability
  • resilience
  • inclusiveness
  • safety

This list is not exhaustive.

The scope for this competition is broad and is aligned to the priorities of KAIA which focus on:

  • land
  • infrastructure
  • transportation research and development (R&D)

Your project must demonstrate an effective collaboration with a South Korean partner applying for funding through KAIA.

Specific Themes

This competition has four themes and you must select the theme you are focused on. If your proposed solution falls outside of the first three themes, or significantly cuts across those three theme areas, you must select theme 4.


  1. Mobility Innovation Solutions.
  2. Disaster Management Solutions.
  3. Net-Zero Energy Optimisation Solutions.
  4. Other Data-centric Innovative Solutions.


For UK applicants, your phase 1 project must:

  • have a grant funding request between £50,000 and £120,000
  • last between 6 to 8 months
  • collaborate with a South Korean partner which is successful in securing funding for this programme from Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA)
  • start by 1 July 2024
  • end by 28 February 2025

The project work must be undertaken in the UK and South Korea.

The consortium must include at least one business registered in South Korea that is a separate legal entity and not linked to the UK partners. This is to ensure that projects encourage genuine international collaboration, not internal company research. Linked companies are considered a single entity under the parent company.

Your project must demonstrate a balanced technological contribution by the participants from both countries and must be equally significant to all participants.

No one country or project partner can represent more than 70% of the total combined project cost across the UK and South Korea.

To be successful in securing funding in this Phase 1 competition both UK and South Korean partner applications must be awarded funding.

Applications identified as not eligible by either Innovate UK or South Korea will not be sent for assessment.

Your proposal must demonstrate a clear intention to commercially exploit the results of the project domestically or globally.

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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

UK lead organisation

To start and lead an application on the Innovation Funding Service (IFS), your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size.

The ‘lead applicant’, is the organisation that starts the application on the Innovation Funding Service. This must be a UK organisation.

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

UK Project team

As a UK partner, to collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • local authority or other public sector organisations

Innovate UK welcome applications which include participants from:

  • social housing providers
  • city authorities
  • living lab facilities

Only UK registered partners must be listed in the Project Partner section of your application on the Innovation Funding Service (IFS). The funding provided to the UK partners will be made under the research and development innovation (RD&I) streamlined route.

Your South Korean partner will not receive any of this UK competition funding. South Korean partners will be funded by KAIA following a parallel application.

Each organisation in your consortium will receive funding from its respective national funding body.

Each UK partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in the Innovation Funding Service. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

South Korean partners

Each UK project must collaborate with a South Korean partner. South Korean partners must not be invited into Innovate UK’s application on the Innovation Funding Service.

South Korean partners will be funded by KAIA following a parallel application. South Korean collaborators must apply for funding separately through the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA).

You must work very closely with your South Korean partners during application development. You must bear in mind that KAIA’s eligibility and timelines may be slightly different to the UK process.

Non-funded UK partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in one further application.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Academic institutions, research and technology organisation (RTO), charities, not for profit, local authorities or other public sector organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • duplicate existing technology
  • do not collaborate with a South Korea partner which secures funding from KAIA

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £4 million has been allocated to fund UK organisations for innovation projects over the two phases of this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant. Phase 1 will fund up to £1 million for feasibility studies projects.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For feasibility studies, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

Research participation

The UK research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 40% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 40% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation (including city authorities), or research organisations (including social housing providers and providers of Living Lab facilities)

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.