Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £2 million in innovation projects.
The funding will support projects across the three Launchpad competition strands that target the innovation cluster in North East England.
The aim of this competition is to support outstanding innovation projects led by businesses. Your business must be active or growing work activities in the digital technologies cluster in North East England, consisting of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.
This Launchpad competition supports the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.
The projects will contribute to North East England’s ambitions to build a more productive region, fostering a competitive and embedded business base and solving social and economic challenges.
Your proposal must align to the scope criteria for this competition.
This competition is split into three strands:
- Launchpad: digital technologies, North East England, Round 1 Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) (this strand)
- Launchpad: digital technologies, North East England, Round 1 Minimal Financial Assistance (MFA)
- Launchpad: North East England, Cluster Management
It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.
This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Your project’s total grant funding request must be between £150,000 and £1 million.
Your project must:
- have a total grant funding request of between £150,000 and £1 million
- last between 6 and 18 months
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
- start at the earliest on 1 April 2024
- end by 31 March 2026
Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.
You must only include eligible project costs in your application.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be a UK registered business of any size
- be or involve at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- collaborate with other UK registered organisations
- be active or growing your work activities in the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England
- have a demonstrable ambition for business growth
More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
The contribution of project partners must add to the innovation led growth of the cluster.
Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in the Innovation Funding Service. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.
To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.
Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Their contribution must add to the innovation led growth of the cluster.
Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
Number of applications
A business can lead on only one CR&D strand application for this competition, but can be included as a collaborator in any number of applications.
If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.
If you apply to the MFA strand of this competition, as well as this CR&D strand, each project must be clearly distinctive and separate. We will monitor closely for this separation if you are awarded funding in both competition strands.
Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects across the three strands of this Launchpad competition for North East England.
The total funding available for this Launchpad competition can change. The funders have the right to:
- adjust the funding allocations between all Launchpad competitions and strands
- apply a ‘portfolio’ approach
Funding will be in the form of a grant.
If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.
For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 50% if you are a large organisation
For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 25% if you are a large organisation
For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.
If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
- 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation
The aim of this competition is to support outstanding innovation projects led by businesses. Your business must be active or growing work activities in the digital technologies innovation cluster in North East England, consisting of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.
The geographical requirement is set to align this competition to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.
Your project must focus on digital technologies that can be applied in growing and emerging markets.
Growing or emerging markets, include but are not limited too:
- advanced manufacturing
- agriculture and forestry
- automotive and transportation
- creative industries
- culture, tourism, leisure and sport
- green industries
- offshore industries
- retail and town centre
Your project must lead to increased investment into research and innovation. It must contribute to growing business activities and economic impact in the cluster.
Your proposal must explain how your team and project will contribute to equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in the cluster.
We want to fund a variety of projects across different durations, locations, and themes. We call this a portfolio approach.
In support of the Government's Levelling Up goals, we reserve the right to prioritise projects that:
- are shorter in duration
- significantly advance innovation in digital technologies for growing and emerging markets
- are led by businesses already based in the innovation cluster
- have greater levels of activity outside the Greater South East
Your project can focus on one or more of the following technologies:
- extended reality
- digital twins
- games engines
- virtual production
- data science
- machine learning
- neural networks
- computer vision
- large language models
- quantum computing
These lists are not exhaustive. Where you can show your proposal fits within the scope of this competition you can focus on other technologies.
30 October 2023: Competition opens
2 November 2023: Online briefing event: register to attend
13 December 2023 11:00am: Competition closes
1 February 2024: Applicants notified
You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.
Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:
- all the information provided in the application is correct
- your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
- all sections of the application are marked as complete
- all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&Cs)
You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.
What we ask you
The application is split into four sections:
- Project details.
- Application questions.
- Project Impact.
Read more about the application process here.
In considering the eligibility of your proposal you are encouraged to review:
- The North East Strategic Economic Plan
- North East devolution deal
- North East Evidence Hub
- DIT High Potential Opportunity: Immersive Technology in the North East
Further information about the cluster will be provided in the online briefing event that will be available for you to view.
The requirement to be active or growing your work activities in the innovation cluster in North East England is to align this competition to the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.
For further guidance on your eligibility, you can contact Innovate UK by email.