• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £2m in feasibility studies to stimulate innovation across enabling technology areas: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics; and information and communications technology.

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £2m

  • Opens: 27 Jan 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 05 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 12 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Technology-inspired innovation - January 2014 - Information and communications technology

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available:


The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £2m in feasibility studies to stimulate innovation across four enabling technology areas: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics, and information and communications technology. 
Our aim is to ensure that small and micro businesses in the UK are well equipped to respond to market opportunities across a range of economic sectors. 
All projects must be business-led, and this competition is open to small or micro companies only, working either singly or in collaboration with one other small or micro company. Projects can last up to four months, and total project costs must not exceed £33k. 
We expect to fund feasibility studies conducting pre-industrial research, in which a business partner can attract up to 75% public funding for their project costs. 
This competition opens on 27 January 2014, and the deadline for applications is noon on 12 March 2014. A briefing day for potential applicants will be held on 10 February 2014
We also run 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. View further information about Feasibility studies and Collaboration Nation events.


The Technology Strategy Board is aiming to stimulate business innovation across a broad range of technologies falling within four key areas: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics, and information and communications technology. 
These enabling technologies underpin the development of high-value products and services to meet market needs across all economic sectors, and generate significant growth in the UK. Innovation in these areas will keep the UK at the forefront of technological developments and their application.
The feasibility studies supported under this competition will help to position UK innovators well for attracting future investment for further research and development, validation and/ or commercialisation to take new concepts forward. 


The feasibility studies need to align closely with one or more of the four technology areas set out below. Where a proposal cuts across more than one technology area, the application must indicate which one of the four technology areas represents the major focus of technical innovation. 
In addition, projects should be focused on early-stage technical opportunities that contain a significant level of technical risk, in that there is some level of uncertainty about how the proposed technical approach will work in practice. 

Technology areas 

Advanced materials 

Sustainability in its broadest context (economic, environmental and social) is the most important challenge for advanced materials. Uncertainty over the future availability of energy and raw materials puts at risk the development of high-value products and drives up the cost of materials for a wide range of businesses. 
Materials innovation offers significant opportunities for UK businesses in the areas of sustainability and materials security, materials for energy, and high-value markets. Proposals should be focused on one or more of the specific areas below: 

Sustainability and materials security 

  • lightweight materials – applied to vehicles, structures and devices to reduce energy consumption and emissions, and increase efficiency 
  • materials with reduced environmental impact through their life (including materials for packaging applications) 
  • nanotechnology-enabled materials and functionality
  • novel ways of substituting less sustainable materials or those that may become restricted or banned under EU REACH regulations 
  • materials that can increase the sustainability of other global resources through the use of bio-based and natural materials and composites. 
Materials for energy 
  • materials for cheaper and more efficient energy storage and management (chemical, biological, electrochemical, electrical, mechanical or thermal) 
  • materials for energy transmission/ distribution that minimise energy, power and thermal loss during the transmission and distribution process 
  • materials for high-durability energy generation at small scale (such as energy harvesting and micro- generation) and large scale (for example, ‘clean' technologies, carbon abatement technologies, catalysts/ fuel cells, photovoltaics, solid-state and magnetic materials). 
High-value markets 
  • integration of new materials, coatings and electronics, such as for sensing applications 
  • materials able to survive in aggressive environments with extremes of temperature, corrosion, erosion or stress bio-based materials. 


Biosciences continue to play a vital role in the development of products and processes that are an integral part of our lives – from the food we eat to our medical care. 
We are specifically looking to encourage proposals that are biologically inspired, and where the resulting technologies will enable multiple applications or the development of a variety of products. Proposals should be focused on one or more of the specific elements below: 
Characterisation and discovery tools 
  • commercial application of sequencing technologies focusing on genomics 
  • integration and exploitation of phenotyping technologies 
  • integration of 'omics technologies such as integrating metabolomic, proteomic, genomic and phenomic data collection and interpretation capabilities 
  • biological imaging systems, biosensors, probes/ markers, diagnostic platforms. 
Production and processing 
  • metabolic engineering 
  • novel manufacturing processes for biological products and novel biological production systems 
  • formulation and delivery approaches for biological products, including biopharmaceuticals and functional foods. 
approaches to organising, filtering and interpreting biological data, including biological system modelling, data visualisation and user-centred design. 

Electronics, sensors and photonics 

This competition will provide opportunities for companies to work on projects in photonics, sensor systems, plastic electronics, electronic systems and power electronics. Preference will be given to proposals that have a tangible output such as a demonstrator or mock-up. Specific areas in which we are seeking applications are shown below: 
devices and systems focused on industrial processing, solid-state lighting, biophotonics, communications or photovoltaics; addressing advances in functionality, performance, size or cost reduction. 
Sensor systems 
systems with intelligence and optimised control, including wireless sensing, networks of sensors and imaging. 
Plastic electronics 
materials, devices, equipment, production processes, architectures, test and measurement, systems or modeling tools. 
Electronic systems 
system design and integration – embedded systems, robotics and autonomous systems, and verification and testing of computing system designs. 
Power electronics 
devices and systems for efficiently converting and controlling electricity consumption in electronic systems. 

Information and communications technology 

Information and communications technologies are an essential technology enabler in almost any aspect of life, so it is vital that we stimulate innovation in this area. Software also presents additional challenges when it comes to engineering high-quality, integrated systems. 
We are therefore looking for radically new software-based technologies or approaches to enable innovation in the following specific areas: 
Data exploration 
  • designing data exploration systems for non-ICT specialists across different sectors, perhaps exploiting simpler user interfaces (see following section) 
  • automated and intelligent data cleansing and semantic annotation 
  • exploring various types of data across application areas or sectors 
  • reducing the cost of high-fidelity visualisation. 
Simpler user experiences 
  • moving ‘beyond the screen' from traditional keyboard, mouse and screen to more immersive interaction with machines through such technologies as haptics, speech, gesture and emotion sensing 
  • improving the user's experience of pervasive computing, where connectivity is embedded and available everywhere 
  • changing the software paradigm for existing applications 
  • meeting the changing expectations of users 
  • enabling multiple co-operating devices to create a joined-up, quality experience for the user. 
Advanced, modern software engineering 
  • better tools and languages to support new approaches, such as inherent parallelism and design of new user interface paradigms 
  • holistic design methods that focus on autonomous/ intelligent/ machine learning systems where machines rather than people are making complex and less deterministic decisions 
  • innovative methodology for using non-traditional skills and disciplines (for example psychology, art, anthropology etc) in software development projects, in other words multidisciplinary software development. 

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks. 
The Technology Strategy 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 Feasibilty Studies page

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £2m to fund feasibility studies that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope above. 
The competition is open to small and micro companies, either singly or in collaboration with one other small or micro company. We expect to fund feasibility studies conducting pre-industrial research, and for most or all of that research to be carried out in-house. Projects can attract up to 75% public sector funding, and total project costs must not exceed £33k. Projects should last up to four months and must be completed by 30 November 2014. 
Companies are welcome to submit applications for multiple projects, but no company will be allowed to participate in more than two projects. We reserve the right to apply a portfolio approach across the four technology areas as outlined in the scope, with regards to the final allocation of funds. 
Successful applicants to this competition will be required to present their feasibility studies at a Collaboration Nation event in the Autumn of 2014. 
Further details of the Collaboration Nation event will be announced nearer the time. 
We plan to run a Technology-inspired innovation competition for collaborative feasibility studies in early 2014/15. 

Application process

This competition will open on 27 January 2014
All applicants must first register via our website – the deadline for registration is at noon on 5 March 2014. The deadline for applications is at noon on 12 March 2014
A briefing event will be held on 10 February 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. 

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. 


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@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 27 January 2014
  • Briefing event: 10 February 2014
  • Registration deadline: 5 March 2014, noon
  • Deadline for receipt of applications: 12 March 2014, noon