• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £3 million in feasibility studies to stimulate innovation across four enabling technology areas that underpin future UK growth: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics; and information and communication technology (ICT).

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £3 million

  • Opens: 18 May 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 02 Sep 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 09 Sep 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Technology inspired innovation - May 2015 - Biosciences


Innovate UK is to invest up to £3 million in feasibility studies to stimulate innovation across four enabling technology areas that underpin future UK growth: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics; and information and communication technology (ICT).
The aim of this competition is to ensure that small and micro businesses in the UK are well positioned to respond to market opportunities across a range of economic sectors.
Studies must be led by a business. Projects are open to companies of any size, but must be led by a small or micro company, working in collaboration with one or more business or research partners. 
Small or micro businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%.
We expect projects to last 6 to 15 months and to range in size from total costs of £50,000 to £150,000, although we may consider projects outside this range.
This competition opens on 18 May 2015, and the deadline for applications is at noon on 9 September 2015. There will be a briefing day for potential applicants in London on 20 May 2015. Y

Key dates

Competition opens 18 May 2015
Competition briefing 20 May 2015
Registration deadline noon 2 September 2015
Deadline for receipt of applications noon 9 September 2015


Innovate UK aims to stimulate business innovation across four key technology areas: advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, sensors and photonics; and ICT. 
The four areas are what we call ‘enabling technologies' because they underpin the development of high-value products and services that meet market needs in many industrial sectors. Advances in these areas will keep UK industry at the forefront of technological innovation and help to generate significant growth. As our Enabling technologies strategy 2012–15 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/enabling-technologies-strategy-2012-to-2015 makes clear, supporting these technology areas is a  key aim of Innovate UK. 


The feasibility studies must be aligned closely with one or more of the four enabling technology areas below, and we are encouraging companies to submit proposals that bridge any of the four areas. Where a proposal cuts across more than one technology area, the application must indicate which of the four areas represents the major focus of technical innovation.
In addition, projects should concentrate on early-stage technical opportunities, where there is significant technical risk and some level of uncertainty about how the proposed approach will work in practice. The aim of these feasibility studies is to build an evidence base, identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as the resources required to develop an idea further. The outcome is expected to be a proof of principle that can enable the organisations to participate in further collaborative development on the journey to eventual commercialisation. 
Proposals must be focused on one or more of the specific areas of the four technologies listed below. 

Advanced materials

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 replacing 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 minimising energy, power and thermal loss during energy transmission and distribution 
  • 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
  • Bio-based materials


We are particularly looking to encourage proposals in the following specific areas, where the resulting technologies will enable multiple applications or the development of a variety of products.
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

Electronics, sensors and photonics

  • Devices and systems concerned with industrial processing, solid-state lighting, biophotonics, communications or photovoltaics, and 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
  • Devices, equipment, production processes, architectures, testing and measurement, systems or modelling tools for plastic/printed/organic/large area electronics
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 communication technology (ICT)

Software presents additional challenges when it comes to engineering high-quality, integrated ICT systems. We are looking for radical new software-based innovations in the following specific areas:
Data exploration
  • Data exploration systems for non-ICT specialists across different sectors 
  • Automated, intelligent data cleansing, semantic annotation and provenance
  • New algorithms and approaches to extract value and insight from complex data sets
  • Novel uses of high-performance computing exploring data
  • New visualisation techniques
Simpler user experiences
  • Immersive interactions with machines through technologies such as haptics, speech, gesture and emotion sensing
  • Improving the user's computing experience on the move or with wearable/implantable devices
  • Moving existing applications from traditional to new interaction methods
  • Meeting changing expectations of users
  • Enabling joined-up experiences across multiple cooperating devices 
Increasing confidence in distributed computing systems
  • New protocols and infrastructural code that helps to guarantee the integrity of operations performed over distributed cloud-based computing resources (processing, storage or both)
  • Simple ways to build increased confidence in cloud-based systems around the reliability, security, privacy and atomicity of their data and operations
Advanced, modern software engineering
  • Better tools and languages and methods to support:
    - new approaches, such as inherent parallelism and new user interface paradigms
    - software engineering processes throughout the software development life cycle, for cyber-physical systems
     - testing (including verification and validation) of complex software systems
     - autonomous/intelligent/machine learning systems where machines rather than people are making complex and less deterministic decisions
  •  Software tools allowing users to easily access and exploit high-performance computing resources to solve business problems
  • Innovative multidisciplinary software development methodologies using non-traditional skills and disciplines (for example, psychology, art, anthropology) resulting in ‘better' software

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £3 million to fund feasibility studies in this competition. 
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 size and type of organisation involved. Small or micro businesses are eligible to receive up to 70% of their project costs as grant, mediumsized businesses 60%, and large businesses 50%. For further information see https://interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules
We expect total project costs to range from £50,000 to £150,000. Projects should last 6 to 15 months.
Projects are open to companies of any size, but must be led by a small or micro company, and must involve collaboration with one or more business or research partners.
Companies are welcome to submit applications for multiple projects, but no company will be allowed to participate in more than two projects. 
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 competition will open on 18 May 2015. Applicants must first register via our website. The deadline for registration is at noon on 2 September 2015 while the deadline for applications is at noon on 9 September 2015.
There will be a briefing in London on 20 May 2015 to highlight the main features of the competition and to explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend.
Note: all deadlines are at noon.
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: https://interact.innovateuk.org/funding-rules or watch our video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cExDpxTL8JY)

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 by using the search function at https://interact.innovateuk.org/ or watch our applications process video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-rnSpIMiPc)
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. 
Get help to understand the future market for your innovation before you apply at http://horizons.innovateuk.org
Innovate UK also runs regular Collaboration Nation events. They 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 search 
for ‘Collaboration Nation' at http://www.innovateuk.gov.uk
Looking for partners to work  on your project?  Go to _connect (https://connect.innovateuk.org)

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. Email pressoffice@innovateuk.gov.uk with any queries.