UK – Germany Bilateral: Collaborative R&D Round 2

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £4 million for projects resulting in innovative solutions for emerging technologies. You must collaborate with at least one German SME applying under the equivalent German ZIM programme.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 4th Sep 2023

Closes: 6th Dec 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), to invest up to £4 million in innovation projects.

We encourage innovation in, but not limited to, the following fields of emerging technologies:

  • quantum
  • AI
  • semiconductor applications
  • engineering biology
  • future telecommunications
  • green technologies


The aim of this competition is to enhance UK and German collaborations and capabilities in the emerging fields of technology in our society. The result being, the developing and delivering of new innovations and applications of the technologies across a broad range of other sectors.

This competition will support UK and German business-led collaboration in innovation with grant funding.

Innovate UK will support UK businesses to collaborate successfully with German counterparts and build their global growth prospects.

Your collaborative R&D proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing or disruptive innovative idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • a strong and deliverable business proposal within your application that addresses and documents market potential and needs
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • good value for money
  • how you intend to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation within 2 to 3 years of project completion
  • clear potential to significantly benefit the UK economy or national productivity
  • the benefit of participants from the countries working together and how this adds value
  • a clear definition of where intellectual property (IP) can be used and shared between the participants and countries
  • a clear route to market within 2 to 3 years of project completion

Specific Themes

Proposals can come from any area of technology, and we particularly encourage applications from the following sectors:


Innovate UK encourage applications in the areas of:

  • sustainable AI
  • responsible and ethical AI
  • applications of AI to improve business productivity in BridgeAI target sectors
  • AI for healthcare


Innovate UK encourage projects that:

  • involve consortia which span the supply chain of service or component suppliers, integrators, and end user businesses
  • progress quantum technology from lab prototypes to industry ready systems for commercial use through integration of innovative and scalable technologies

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

  • sensing and imaging
  • component and sub system technologies supporting communications, computing and networking
  • scalable solutions and fabrication processes for chip scale quantum photonic and optoelectronic systems
  • software hardware codesign for reproducible quantum processor enhanced applications


Innovate UK encourage applications in the areas of:

  • semiconductor design
  • compound semiconductors
  • advanced packaging and heterogeneous integration
  • advanced materials

Future Telecommunications

Innovate UK encourage applications in the areas of:

  • non-terrestrial communications
  • open radio access network (ORAN) deployments and innovations
  • use of AI and data analytics to improve network efficiency
  • energy efficient technologies
  • neutral host networks
  • antenna innovation, massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO)
  • cross border lab collaborations
  • network security

Engineering Biology

Your proposal must align with one of the National Engineering Biology Programme’s themes, or focus on the development of cross cutting technology or service development.

The themes are:

  • food systems
  • biomedicine
  • clean growth
  • environmental solutions

Green Technologies

Battery technology:

  • advanced battery materials
  • emerging battery technologies, for example; sodium ion, lithium sulfur, solid state
  • technologies to achieve 350 Wh/kg and above at pack level
  • innovations in battery manufacturing processes
  • design innovation for cells, modules, packs
  • integration of digitalisation
  • advanced predictive analytics and degradation modelling
  • sustainable recycling approaches
  • technologies for increased safety
  • skills development and training


Your project must:

  • have a maximum grant funding request of £750,000
  • start by 1 July 2024
  • end by 30 June 2027
  • last between 18 and 36 months

UK project partners must carry out the majority of their project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

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

Note that eligibility on the German counterpart competition also states that in a project with two cooperating partners, no partner may contribute more than 70% of total person months to the project. Person months is the metric for the time in months devoted by staff to a project.

In a project with more than two cooperating partners, no partner may contribute more than 50% of total person months. All research organisations involved in the consortium may altogether not contribute more than 50% of the total person months.

Your application must be in line with the rules of Innovate UK and The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

Applications indentified as not eligible by either Innovate UK or BMWK will not be sent for assessment.

Your project 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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming UK micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • collaborate with at least one German registered SME applying to the German ZIM programme, which must be a separate legal entity, not linked to the UK partners

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

Your project can include partners, including overseas 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.

You can use subcontractors from the UK, Germany and other countries but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the countries providing grant funding for the project. All subcontractors must be selected through your usual procurement process.

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

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate for the project.

An eligible UK business can lead on one application and collaborate on two further applications.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not have a genuine collaboration with a German SME who has been successful in the corresponding German ZIM programme
  • do not meet Innovate UK’s eligibility criteria

Innovate UK will not fund Quantum-focussed projects that are:

  • not covered by any of the four specific themes
  • not ‘second generation’ quantum technologies defined as those involving the generation and coherent control of quantum states, resulting in phenomena such as superposition or entanglement
  • feasibility studies or projects that are low maturity in their development
  • market research, road mapping or landscape studies

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 from Innovate UK, and a minimum of €4 million from the German BMWK, has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

Each country will fund its eligible participants according to their national procedure and funding rules. Funding conditions and eligibility criteria may vary between UK and Germany. The bilateral joint cooperation between the partners and its added value is an important aspect to be considered within the evaluation.

UK Partners

If your UK 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 industrial research projects, 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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

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.