• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £3m for feasibility studies (pre-industrial research projects) to stimulate innovation in the UK's civil nuclear power sector.

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £3m

  • Opens: 17 Mar 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 23 Apr 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 30 Apr 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Developing the civil nuclear supply chain - Feasibility study

Competition results

See here for the competition results.

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) are to invest up to £3m in collaborative R&D and feasibility studies projects, to stimulate innovation in the UK's  civil nuclear power sector.   
 
With the sector undergoing a resurgence, we aim to develop a strong, innovative and sustainable supply chain to serve both national and global markets. We are seeking proposals in areas where the UK is, or can become, a leader, including in the construction, installation, commissioning, manufacture, operation and maintenance,  waste management and decommissioning  of nuclear plant in a safe, economical and  sustainable manner.   
 
We are allocating up to £10m of the total funding for business-led collaborative R&D (industrial research) projects, with business partners attracting up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs), and  with projects lasting up to three years. We expect collaborative R&D projects to range in size between £500k and £3m. We are particularly encouraging larger companies to work with SMEs.  
 
Up to £3m of the total funding will be available for smaller-scale feasibility studies (or pre-industrial research projects).  These must be led by an SME, and may be collaborative (with SMEs working with larger businesses, other SMEs or research organisations) or developed by a single SME. SMEs can attract public funding of up to 75% of their project costs (65% for larger business partners). We expect feasibility studies to last up to 12 months  and to range in size from £100k to £150k.   
 
Academic and research oganisations can apply but cannot lead a project. The total non-business involvement in a project cannot exceed 50% of the total project costs for collaborative R&D, or 30% of the total project costs for feasibility studies.   
 
The competition opens for applications for both types of project on 17 March 2014.  The deadline for feasibility studies applications is noon on 30 April 2014.  The application process for CR&D projects is in two stages, with the deadline for  stage 1 (expressions of interest) also noon  on 30 April 2014.   
 
A briefing event for applicants will be held in London on 19 March 2014.   
 

Background

Over the coming decades, the nuclear industry is set for a major expansion.  Around £930bn investment is planned globally to build new reactors, with international procurement of around £25bn a year to 2025. In the UK, agreement is now in place to construct the first nuclear power station since 1995, with more likely to follow.  
 
In addition, the global decommissioning market (including the decommissioning of UK plants) is estimated to be worth £50bn pa by 2020, with between 82 and 145 reactors being retired by 2030, mostly in Europe.   
 
This represents a significant opportunity for UK businesses in the area of nuclear engineering and its associated technologies. Innovation in this area could deliver direct benefits to the UK worth up to £14bn by 2050.   
 
This competition builds on the findings and  recommendations of a number of recent  reports on the UK's civil nuclear sector, including the Government's Nuclear Industrial Strategy, the  nuclear industry's Industrial Vision Statement and the Low Carbon  Innovation Co-ordination Group's Technology Innovation Needs Assessment. It also follows on from previous Technology Strategy Board competitions in this area.  
 

Scope

The following scope applies both to feasibility studies and collaborative R&D projects. 
  
We may fund projects that address new-build and/or existing nuclear plants and their decommissioning. Projects may cover all aspects of the power plant, and are not limited to the ‘nuclear island'. We welcome applications that include technology  transfer from other sectors, and companies  not already in the nuclear supply chain, particularly SMEs.   
 
Projects should help to meet the long-term challenge of providing cost-effective, safe, energy-efficient solutions with high reliability and durability. Projects must also take into account the key issues of regulation, health and safety, and non-proliferation. This may be achieved by:   
  • the incremental development of technologies already used within the nuclear sector   
  • the development and transfer of innovative solutions from other sectors  into nuclear applications (for example, from the materials, manufacturing, automotive, ICT, aerospace, robotics and medical sectors)   
  • the development of completely new  technologies.   
 
We encourage successful applicants to our previous competitions who want to take their innovations further, but participation in previous competitions is not a pre-requisite, and we welcome new applicants.
   
We are looking for proposals that relate to one or more of the following themes:   
 

1. Construction, installation and commissioning.

This includes nuclear new-build and new facilities required for decommissioning and waste treatment.  Included are projects that develop  innovative construction, installation and  commissioning technologies to support lower-cost and more efficient plant delivery.  
 
This may include the development of novel construction materials with improved properties, modular construction, systems  integration, and ‘virtual' technologies, including visualisation and simulation, to assist in training.   
 

2. Operation and maintenance.

We are seeking proposals for projects that will  significantly speed up and improve the  quality, accuracy and reliability of the operation and maintenance of both new  and existing plant. This may be through innovation in areas such as structural health monitoring, control systems, virtual reality, robotics, sensors, ICT and non-destructive evaluation technologies. This theme also includes the development of advanced structural integrity, life extension, materials degradation and modelling  methodologies for existing plant,  including the application of such  methodologies to future new-build plant.  
 

3. High-value manufacturing.

Continued support for the development of advanced manufacturing techniques is essential for growing market share in component supply, particularly for new-build, and the associated growth of the UK supply chain.  Projects should target the development of high-value manufacturing (and associated inspection technologies), which may include advanced casting and forging technologies, processing, machining, welding and joining technologies. It may also include the development of advanced simulation and modelling technologies where there are clear benefits in terms of reduced cost and improved quality of components.  
 

4. Decommissioning and waste management, including storage.  

Encouraging innovation in decommissioning  is a key component in the NDA's strategy (see www.nda.gov.uk/strategy). Projects may include technologies related to management of nuclear materials and spent  fuels, nuclear waste management, and site restoration related to UK civil nuclear sites. We particularly encourage innovative   decommissioning solutions that are applicable across multiple sites and deal with common needs, risks or opportunities.  This theme includes the development of innovative technologies for plant decontamination, decommissioning and dismantling. 
 
Novel technologies for the characterisation and treatment of radioactive waste, its handling, packaging and storage are also within scope. In this area we encourage the engagement of the NDA's Site Licence Companies, but this is not mandatory.   
 

5. Open theme.

This includes innovative technologies that are not specifically covered under the other themes, but where the UK has expertise, and can develop a robust, innovative supply chain with a clear route to market. This may include, for example, front-end fuel cycle technologies, small modular reactors and advanced materials. It may also include technologies that have not previously been applied in the nuclear sector, but could make a significant technical and commercial impact.  
 
Nuclear fusion is outside the scope of this competition except where early-stage deployment of existing spin-out technologies can be demonstrated .
 

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Brokering and partnership- building events will take place between January and March 2014.  
 
For further information, see the  _connect group for this competition, at https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/nuclear
 

Funding allocation and project details

Feasibility studies   

Up to £3m of the total funding is available for smaller-scale feasibility studies (or pre-industrial research projects). These must be led by an SME, and can be collaborative or involve only a single company. SMEs can attract public funding of up to 75% of their project costs (up to 65% for larger business partners). We expect feasibility studies projects to range in size from £100k to £150k, and to last up  to 12 months.
 
Academic and research organisations may participate but cannot lead a project. The total academic and research organisation involvement cannot exceed 30% of the total overall project costs. See whether your business fits the EU definition of an SME
 

Application process

Feasibility studies   

For feasibility studies projects, the competition opens on 17 March 2014.  The deadline for registration is noon on 23 April 2014. The deadline for receipt of applications is noon on 30 April 2014.   
 
 

Key dates

Feasibility studies

  • Competition opens: 17 March 2014
  • Briefing event: 19 March 2014
  • Registration deadline: 23 April 2014, noon
  • Deadline for receipt of applications: 30 April 2014, noon

More information

For more information and all the documents  you need to read before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants,  go to the web page for this competition at www.innovateuk.org under Funding  & support > Funding competitions.   
 
To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications.   

Publicity

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.