• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £1.25m in feasibility studies to bring emerging imaging technologies closer to commercial use.

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £1.25m

  • Opens: 03 Feb 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 26 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 02 Apr 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Seeing more than before - emerging imaging technologies

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available; see the PDF of the winning project proposals.


The Technology Strategy Board is investing up to £1.25m in feasibility studies to bring emerging imaging technologies closer to commercial use. 
This competition will support projects that could enable richer, more wide-ranging information to be gained from imaging, creating new applications and value propositions, with the potential to disrupt existing markets. 
Projects must be collaborative and business-led, and the competition is open to all UK-based companies and research organisations. We expect to fund feasibility studies in pre-industrial research, in which a business partner will attract up to 65% public funding of their project costs (75% for SMEs). We expect projects to last up to 12 months, with total costs of up to £150k per project. 
This competition opens on 3 February 2014, and the deadline for applications is noon on 2 April 2014. A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 11 February 2014


Imaging is widely used in many sectors, for example in medical diagnosis and treatment, defence surveillance, manufacturing quality control, in-service testing, agricultural pest detection and traffic management. In 2012, the global market in medical imaging equipment alone was valued at £16bn. 
UK business is driving demand for new technologies to create and process images: for example, new hybrid, multi-modal medical imaging techniques to enable real-time image-guided therapy, or smaller, more portable equipment with improved resolution, speed and robustness. 
While increasing definition or improving sensors may yield incremental improvements in imaging performance, this competition is seeking to assess the feasibility of new scientific developments that could lead to a step-change in the market. New techniques should focus on image capture and analysis, whether software or hardware-based, and have disruptive potential in sectors, existing and new, where imaging is vital. 
The UK is a world leader in scientific research into technologies that could transform the imaging sector. For example we have significant capability in photonics, computing, optics, terahertz sources and detectors, visualisation, photonic crystals and fibres, meta-materials and plasmonics, graphene and optical signal processing. 


We are seeking to fund projects based on novel and emerging imaging technologies that have the potential to create the new products and services, or even new industries, of tomorrow. By ‘emerging', we mean technologies that can be commercialised in about five years. This competition will allow companies to explore the feasibility of developing such emerging technologies into components and systems for imaging applications. 
Our focus is on those disruptive technologies that will enable richer, more wide-ranging information to be gained from imaging than was previously possible. These are the technologies that may lead to completely new imaging techniques, or new value propositions for the use of data and information, made possible by combining and extending existing techniques. Our intention is that the value from these technologies should be realised in the UK. 
Projects should demonstrate significant innovation in relation to one of the following: 
  • image capture (including detector technology) 
  • image processing (for human interpretation or automatic extraction of information).
We are not seeking iterative changes in performance, but significant advances or breakthroughs, leading to higher speed, reduced noise, wider dynamic range, higher resolution, greater efficiency, wider field, extended bandwidth, higher information content or lower cost. 
We invite applications to test or demonstrate the potential of newly emerging imaging technologies or combinations of technologies. Topics may include, but are not limited to: 
  • terahertz imaging – particularly challenges around source, detector, algorithm and system development for applications, including non-destructive testing, non-invasive imaging, materials characterisation and new applications 
  • multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging, including the challenges of realising broad tuneable light sources and diffraction-limited image quality over the full spectral response. There may be applications for example in defence surveillance and in medical imaging for diagnosis and treatment, improving discrimination between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue 
  • challenges of integrating multi-modal/ hybrid imaging technologies (several techniques applied simultaneously to the same sample), for example to enable earlier diagnosis and treatment of disease and for machine vision applications 
  • multi-dimensional imaging. In particular LiDAR technology for high-resolution, accurate 3D imaging for a wide range of applications. Also Geiger-mode, linear-mode and single photon detector-array technology for applications in low-light 3D imaging 
  • close-to-sensor processing, including techniques that integrate image capture and image processing for high-dynamic-range imaging, and novel techniques that enable significant reductions in size, weight and power. 
  • image processing, including innovations in image analysis and compression software. In particular, faster processing and real-time analysis without loss or degradation of the image, pattern recognition and analysis, enablers of increased automation and reduced human input to interpret data, such as machine-learning technologies to interpret images, image segmentation and classification 
  • novel optics covering a broad range of wavebands and materials, including ceramics, crystals and photonic components, for high-temperature applications or very compact optical design 
  • computational imaging that provides significant improvement, for example in resolution beyond physical system limitations, by combining hardware and software development 
  • integrating the basic processing of the image to identify features with any real-world augmentation in generated graphics 
  • visualisation technologies – how data or images can be represented in such a way as to be useful, for example in medical imaging with 3D virtual fly-through of organs, which can be annotated, and also have options to ‘zoom' through from what is visible to microscopic-level details 
  • deriving scene content from a set of detected images that do not use traditional approaches, such as edgelet detection. 

Looking for partners to work on your project? 
We will be organising supporting activities, such as networking and consortia building events. Go to connect and join the imaging sub-group, at https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/imaging/overview 
This competition aims to support disruptive emerging technologies in the area of image capture and the analysis needed to make images interpretable, which have meaning in a particular end-use. Novel methods of image storage and display are out of scope for this competition. 

Funding allocation and project details

The Technology Strategy Board is making a total of up to £1.25m available for pre-industrial feasibility studies that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope above. Proposals must be collaborative and business-led: the competition is open to all UK-based companies and research organisations. 
A business partner will generally attract up to 65% public funding for their project costs (75% for SMEs). We expect projects to last up to 12 months, with total project costs of up to £150k for each project. See whether your business fits the EU definition of an SME 
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 type of organisation and the type of research. See general guidance on how projects are funded 

Application process

This competition opens on 3 February 2014. All applicants must first register via our website. The deadline for registration is at noon on 26 March 2014 and the deadline for completed applications is at noon on 2 April 2014
There will be a briefing event on 11 February 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. 
The Technology Strategy Board also runs regular Collaboration Nation events, which enable companies that have been successful in feasibility studies competitions to showcase the results of their projects to their peers and others, with a view to finding new partners to collaborate with and new sources of funding. For more information, see the Feasibility Studies page
NB: All deadlines are at noon 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 3 February 2014
  • Optional briefing event: 11 February 2014
  • Registration deadline: Noon, 26 March 2014
  • Deadline for applications: Noon, 2 April 2014

More information

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. 
For further information on the consortia- building events that we will be organising, go to www.connect.innovateuk.org/web/espktn/events


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.