• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment up to £1 million in late-stage experimental development projects to help companies bring recent technology innovations closer to the point of manufacturing readiness.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £1 million

  • Opens: 16 Feb 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 25 Mar 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 01 Apr 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Production line readiness for high-value manufacturing

Competition results

See here for the competition results.


Innovate UK is to invest up to £1 million in late-stage experimental development projects to help companies bring recent technology innovations closer to the point of manufacturing readiness.


This competition builds on our previous investments in high-value manufacturing feasibility studies and collaborative R&D projects.


We are challenging businesses to address a gap which can arise after a successful high-value manufacturing project.


That is when the issues of design for manufacture, scale-up and facility development (such as welding fixtures, interconnected processing vessels and assembly line layout) can pose significant risks and delays in the transition to volume production.


We are seeking proposals that focus on ‘experimental development', as defined here interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules. This work could be a series of pilot-line production trials involving a novel approach to shorten the pre-production phase, or production technologies aimed at more cost-effective maturation of processes and equipment.


The competition is open to a single company or to collaborative consortia. Projects must be led by a company and we expect them to range in size from £200,000 to a maximum of £500,000 in total costs.


Collaborative projects may involve other companies and/or research technology organisations as partners. Research organisations should note that there is no funding for fundamental research in the projects.


The main activity must be experimental development and funding will be at 35% for SMEs and 25% for large companies. We expect projects to last around 9 months and to be completed by 31 March 2016.


This competition opens for applicants on 16 February 2015. The deadline for registration is at noon on 25 March 2015 and the deadline for applications is at noon on 1 April 2015.


A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in London on 25 February 2015.

Key dates 

Competition opens 16 February 2015
Competition briefing 25 February 2015
Registration deadline Noon 25 March 2015
Deadline for applications Noon 1 April 2015



Manufacturing contributes more than £6.7 trillion to the global economy, and the UK is a major player, ranking in the world's top 10 in terms of manufacturing gross value added (GVA). Manufacturing generates 10% of UK GVA, directly employing 2.5 million people and representing half of UK exports.


Our High Value Manufacturing strategy 2012-15 defines HVM as ‘the application of leading edge technical knowledge and expertise to the creation of products, processes and associated services'. The HVM strategy can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-value-manufacturing-strategy-2012-to-2015


Innovation in HVM can be in the product or in the manufacturing process – or both. In either case, manufacturing methods and facilities will usually require rapid iterations of experimental development and line trials to achieve the level of readiness necessary for production.


The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale, summarised in the HVM strategy, is familiar to many innovators, but the complementary Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) scale is less well known, having originated in the USA Department of Defense some 10 years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Readiness_Level).


Sometimes called Manufacturing Capability Readiness Level, it is particularly relevant to innovative companies as it provides a language and maturity scale more closely aligned to the needs and challenges of late-stage innovation in high-value manufacturing.

Manufacturing readiness level

Phase MRL Definition
Conception and assessment of manufacturing technology 1 Basic manufacturing implications identified
  2 Manufacturing concepts identified
  3 Manufacturing proof of concept developed
  4 Capability to produce technology/demonstrator in a laboratory environment
Pre-production phase 5 Capability to produce prototype components in a production-relevant environment
  6 Capability to produce prototype system in a production-relevant environment
Production implementation 7 Capability to produce prototype system in a production-representative environment
  8 Pilot line capability demonstrated. Ready to begin low-rate production
  9 Low-rate production demonstrated



All high-value manufacturing market sectors are relevant to this competition, as are the five key themes of our HVM strategy:

  • resource efficiency
  • manufacturing systems
  • materials integration
  • manufacturing processes
  • business models.

However, the competition scope in terms of technical maturity is more tightly focused on the Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) scale.


In this competition we are aiming to accelerate the manufacturing readiness for innovations that have already reached 6 on the TRL scale – ‘system model or demonstrator in relevant environment'.


At this level, the function of the system or prototype model will have been successfully demonstrated, but the manufacturing activity will probably have taken place in a laboratory or prototype environment. That TRL level typically corresponds to MRL 4 (‘capability to produce technology/demonstrator in a laboratory environment').


Taking this capability to a maturity level representative of a production environment (MRL 6 or 7) will typically involve several iterations of experimental development work, over a matter of months.


We are looking for proposals that develop the manufacturing readiness from MRL 4 to at least one level higher and possibly one or two levels beyond that, up to a maximum of MRL 8 (‘ready to begin low-rate production').


Within that range we are able to fund limited pre-production or pilot line trials at full rate so that projects can prove the process at the required cycle time or process scale.


All projects must include an innovative step, either in the manufacturing (production) process itself or in the methodology by which the manufacturing readiness is matured.


We welcome follow-on activities from projects previously supported by Innovate UK as well as projects that have not previously received our support.


Projects in which an innovative product is brought up to full production readiness using proven manufacturing process technologies and/or proven maturation methodologies are out of scope.

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £1 million to fund experimental development 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 organisation involved.


For this competition, projects must be business-led and may be single-company or collaborative. They must be completed by 31 March 2016.


We will fund only experimental development work, with a business partner attracting 25% public funding for their project costs (35% for SMEs). We expect sub-contracting to be less than 50% of total project cost. There is no funding for fundamental research in the projects.


The range of activities permitted under the R&D funding category, ‘experimental development', is defined on our website at https://interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules.


We expect projects to range in size from £200,000 to a maximum of £500,000 in total costs.


Applicants or partners involved in current Innovate UK-funded projects in the same subject area will not be eligible for this competition, to avoid the possibility of double-funding. Anyone seeking clarification on this rule must email the competition helpline (support@innovateuk.gov.uk) and have the scope of their proposal agreed and confirmed by us in writing before the application deadline.


To find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME, see: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/index_en.htm.

Application process

This competition opens for applicants on 16 February 2015. Applicants must register by 25 March 2015 and must submit their applications by noon on 1 April 2015.


An independent panel of experts assesses applications on individual merit.


A briefing for potential applicants will be held in London on 25 February 2015 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend.


To register for this event, go to https://connect.innovateuk.org/events


Note: All deadlines are at 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 at interact.innovateuk.org
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.

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.