• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £4 million to support new ways of enhancing user experience in retail.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £4 million 

  • Opens: 16 Mar 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 06 May 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 13 May 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Enhancing user experience in retail


Innovate UK is to invest up to £4 million to support new ways of enhancing user experience in retail.


We are looking for projects that convert data about people into valuable insights that improve the user experience for customers and lead to commercial gains (for example, more customers, higher sales and increased profits) for retailers.


The competition is open to companies of any size in working in partnership. Proposals must be led by a business.


Small and medium sized businesses could receive up to 60% of their eligible project costs and large businesses 50%.


We expect projects to last 12 to 24 months and total project costs to range in size from £400,000 to £1 million, although we may consider projects outside this range.


This competition opens on 16 March 2015. The deadline for registration is noon on 6 May 2015, and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 13 May 2015.


Briefing events for potential applicants will take place on: 

 The event will be recorded for applicants who are unable to attend.

Supporting documents

Key dates

Competition opens 16 March 2015
Competition briefing
17 March 2015
19 March 2015
20 March 2015
Registration deadline noon 6 May 2015
Expressions of Interest (EOI) deadline noon 13 May 2015
Stage 2 opens for invited applicants 8 June 2015
Deadline for receipt of applications noon 3 September 2015



Companies wanting to enhance their products and services must understand, anticipate and interpret their customers' needs, behaviours and desires.


Retailers now have access to increasing amounts of data about customers and transactions, which they could use to engage more effectively with customers and to improve products and services.


Data analysis technologies can help retailers understand customers better so they provide the kind of user experience that attracts more customers, increases purchases per customer and ultimately leads to higher profits.


Research from Nesta (Inside the Datavores http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/briefing-inside-datavores) suggests that UK businesses that use data-based analysis are 25% more likely to launch new products and services, and to see an increase in their profits. However, retailers are less likely than businesses in other sectors to use data analytics in their business decisions.


The very largest retailers have the capacity to innovate, but many are discouraged by the considerable investment required in terms of time, money and expertise to use data analysis tools effectively.


Personal data may be directly or indirectly created by an individual and their activity. It includes both sensitive data, such as transactions and banking, and behavioural data, for example how they navigate through an e-commerce site.


This competition encourages businesses, data scientists and designers to explore ways in which knowledge and insights gained from analysis of personal data can be used to enhance the user experience for customers, and create commercial gains for retailers.


Proposals should develop new ways of using personal data to enhance the user experience. Successful applications should demonstrate understanding of how user-centered business design using personal data can create benefits for customers and show evidence of commercial gains for retailers.


Successful projects should lead to one or more of the following:

  • applying data technologies to open up new opportunities and enhance existing businesses
  • proprietary data collaboration between retailers and third-party innovators to develop new services
  • using data from sensors, beacons, barcodes and other Internet of Things devices to relate customer experience to their surroundings
  • integrating physical and online customer journeys
  • developing or enhancing business models or customer experience with open data and/or open APIs (application program interfaces)
  • lowering the barriers to using data tools: making existing data analytics techniques more accessible; developing new techniques and algorithms; presenting them in an easy to use way


Successful projects can focus on large user groups or on personalised solutions for individuals.


Solutions must focus on capturing value from the data gathered, rather than being about new ways to collect data. Also the commercial gain from personal data must come from improving the user experience, not by selling data to third parties, etc.


Proposals should consider the role of trust and reputation when using personal data. They should also demonstrate that they follow best practice for privacy and security of personal data.


NOTE: Innovate UK is currently running another competition focused on user experience, called "Enhancing user experience using personal data". 


Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £4 million to fund collaborative R&D projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope.


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.


For this competition projects must be business-led and collaborative. They should last 12 to 24 months. We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). For further information see https://interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules


We expect projects to range in size from £400,000 to £1 million with the maximum total project size being around £1 million. We may consider larger projects but applicants should contact us directly before making their application to discuss further.


To find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME, see: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition/index_en.htm

Application process

This is a 2-stage competition that opens for applicants on 16 March 2015.


Stage 1 – each applicants submits an expression of interest which is assessed.


Stage 2 – we invite selected applicants to submit an application.


The deadline for registration is noon on 6 May 2015.


The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 13 May 2015. The second stage deadline for invited applications is at noon on 3 September 2015.


Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts.


There will be briefings in London on 17 March 2015, Manchester on 19 March 2015 and Edinburgh on 20 March 2015 to highlight the main features of the competition and to explain the application process.  Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event.


You can register for events through https://connect.innovateuk.org/events


Note: All deadlines are at noon.

More information

To apply you must first register with us through this competition page. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for expressions of interest.


Competition helpline: 0300 321 4357

Email: support@innovateuk.gov.uk


Looking for partners to work on your project? Go to _connect connect.innovateuk.org or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/digital-economy


Each partner in a project can receive funding towards their project costs – the funding is a percentage of the total eligible project costs and varies, depending on the size and type of organisation and the type of research.


For general guidance see: interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules


Help for SMEs to grow faster

Small businesses that combine the funding they receive from us with additional business support are more likely to grow faster. If you are an SME and receive funding through this competition, you will automatically gain access to a growth workshop, an online diagnostic and a growth expert to help you develop a growth plan. This may include coaching, mentoring and entrepreneurial skills training.


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.

E-mail pressoffice@innovateuk.gov.uk with any queries.