• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Innovate UK, RCUK & MoST for the People’s Republic of China are to invest up to £16 million in collaborative research & development projects that propose new commercial solutions to challenges impacting the socio-economic growth & development of China in relation to energy, healthcare, urbanisation and agri-food.

  • Programme: International Programme

  • Award: Up to £16 million

  • Opens: 16 Nov 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 23 Mar 2016, 12:00

  • Closes: 30 Mar 2016, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

China–UK research and innovation bridges competition


China Ministry of Science and Technology logoInnovate UK, the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Ministry of Science and
Technology (MoST) for the People's Republic of China are to invest up to £16 million in collaborative research and development projects that propose 

Newton Fund logo

new commercial solutions to critical challenges impacting the socio-economic growth and development of China in relation to energy, healthcare, urbanisation and agri-food. 
The UK investment has been made possible through the Department for Research Council UK logoBusiness, Innovation and Skills-managed Newton Fund
The aim of the competition is to bring together companies (small to medium-sized companies and/or larger businesses), research organisations, academics and other collaborators from China and the UK for the joint research and development of new solutions to key socio-economic challenges, in the form of innovative products, processes or services. The principal market a project must consider is China.
Projects must be collaborative, involving both UK and Chinese participants, with both a UK lead partner and a Chinese lead partner. On the UK side, projects can be led by either a business or a research organisation. The lead partner should be able to demonstrate a clear route to commercialisation of the proposed product(s) or service(s), and should have a primary focus on the translation of research and/or knowledge.
We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects. For UK participants, small or micro businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%. 
We expect total UK project costs to range in size from £800,000 to £1 million (although we may consider project costs outside this range), and for projects to last for up to 24 months.
The UK lead partner must submit an application on behalf of all UK participants in the project to Innovate UK. The Chinese lead partner will submit their application for the same project to MoST or MoST's executing agency.
This is a 2-stage competition that opens for applicants on 16 November 2015. The deadline for stage 1 applications is at noon UK time on 30 March 2016. UK applicants must register by noon on 23 March 2016, one week before the application deadline.
A briefing webinar for potential applicants will be held on 17 November 2015, which will cover the UK part of the application process. 

Supporting documents & links

Key dates

Competition opens 16 November 2015
Webinar briefing 17 November 2015
Deadline for registration noon UK time 23 March 2016
Deadline for stage 1 applications noon UK time 30 March 2016
Stage 2 opens for invited applicants 13 June 2016
Deadline for stage 2 invited applications noon UK time 24 August 2016



Tackling global challenges – such as extreme weather conditions, urbanisation, access to affordable healthcare, food and energy security, and meeting the social and economic needs of a growing and aging population – requires an integrated research and innovation approach, bringing together stakeholders from different disciplines, sectors and nations in high-quality collaborations. 
The Newton Fund, which provides the foundation for this collaborative competition, was established in 2014 to strengthen science and innovation partnerships between the UK and 16 countries around the world, with the aim of promoting the economic development and welfare of partner countries. The Fund forms part of the UK government's official development assistance to middle- and lower-income countries. 
The Newton Fund recognises that the UK business and research communities have skills and expertise to work with our collaborating countries, and identify novel solutions to critical challenges within those countries. Many of the challenges that our collaborating countries grapple with are those that the UK itself is grappling with.
Research Councils UK are responsible for investing public money in research in the UK to advance knowledge and generate new ideas that lead to a productive economy and healthy society, and contribute to a sustainable world. Each year, RCUK invest around £3 billion in research covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines from the medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, environmental sciences, the arts and humanities.
The Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MoST) co-ordinates science and technology activities (S&T) in China. It is responsible for budgeting and supervising S&T funds, and collaborates with other organisations in undertaking S&T demonstrations, as well as the assessment, acceptance of funding and policy-making for major science and technology special projects. It also issues policies to encourage synergy between enterprise and research, to better promote the application and demonstration of scientific discovery and technological invention, and improve the innovation capacity of enterprise.


This Newton Fund research and innovation bridges competition will help UK businesses and research organisations to take forward collaborative partnerships with Chinese counterparts in order to jointly research and develop innovative products, processes and services fit for the Chinese market. 
Technology areas in scope for this competition include energy, healthcare, urbanisation and agri-food. For full details of the scope of this competition, please read the Guidance for Applicants document.
Projects must demonstrate the clear translation of existing, excellent research into products, processes and services with high industrial relevance and commercial potential. This competition is not about funding basic research. 
All projects should show the additional benefits of co-operation between the UK and China. Projects should not only demonstrate high industrial relevance and commercial potential, but must also demonstrate that they will have a positive impact upon the economic development and social welfare of China, beyond primary commercial interests. Proposals that do not demonstrate how they aim to further sustainable development (and thereby contribute to a reduction in poverty), or improve the welfare of China's population, will be considered out of scope. 

Funding allocation and project details

Innovate UK and RCUK have allocated up to £8 million to fund UK participation in collaborative R&D projects that address the challenges outlined in the scope. MoST in China has allocated up to £8 million in RMB equivalent to fund the Chinese participation.
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. 
This competition is primarily focused on industrial research projects, for which UK-based small or micro businesses are eligible to receive up to 70% of their project costs as grant, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%. For further information see Innovate UK's funding rules.
To be eligible for this competition, projects must be designed to conduct industrial research aimed at acquiring knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services or significantly improving existing products, processes or services. We will consider applications that have work packages related to experimental development, as part of an overall focus on industrial research. 
For more information on the definition of industrial research and experimental development, please see Innovate UK's funding rules.
Projects must be collaborative and involve at least one UK business and one UK research organisation working with at least one Chinese business and one Chinese research organisation. Other business and non-business partners may participate as additional partners on the each side. Applications or applicants from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan are not eligible.
The total of all non-business partner costs on the UK side cannot exceed 50% of the overall UK partner project costs. MoST requires Chinese business participants in a consortium to contribute a minimum of 50% to the total Chinese partner project costs.
We expect total UK project costs to range from £800,000 to £1 million, although projects outside this range may be considered if you contact Innovate UK to discuss before applying. Projects should last for up to 24 months.
Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME 

Application process

This is a 2-stage competition that opens for applicants on 9 November 2015.
Stage 1 – The UK lead applicant submits an expression of interest application for the UK/China collaborative project to Innovate UK, which is assessed by Innovate UK and RCUK. The Chinese lead partner will submit their application for the same project to MoST or MoST's executing agency.
Stage 2 –Selected applicants are invited to submit a full-stage application for funding.
To apply, the UK lead applicant must first register via our website. The deadline for registration is at noon UK time on 23 March 2016, while the deadline for applications is at noon UK time on 30 March 2016.
Note: all deadlines are at 12 noon UK time.
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts in both the UK and China.  
A briefing webinar for potential applicants will be held on 17 November 2015 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend and can register in advance.

More information

For more information watch our applications process video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-rnSpIMiPc)

Looking for partners to work on your project?

Meeting Mojo allows all interested applicants to add a profile and then search for partners in a database specific to this China–UK competition. When you find a potential partner, please message them via Meeting Mojo to discuss and determine whether you are a good match to apply as a project team for grant funding.

Please follow the link below and register, giving your full details. NOTE: It will take up to 24 hours to be approved by the site admin before you can then search for partners.

Meeting Mojo tool

Get help to understand the future market for your innovation before you apply through the Horizon Tool.

For more information about the Newton Fund and funding opportunities and follow @NewtonFund 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.

Email pressoffice@innovateuk.gov.uk with any queries.