What does 2019 potentially look like?
In April this year Innovate UK ran a competition to identify the next wave of the industrial strategy challenge fund. There were 252 applications with 18 taken through to in depth discussion. Given Wave 1 supported 4 R&D challenges and Wave 2 supported 8 challenges, we expect between 4-10 challenges to be funded in this wave. Innovate UK have been very busy throughout the past few months determining what to support, now with the final set of challenges expected to be announced shortly, prior to competitions opening next April, TBAT Innovation reviews the possibilities.
The first two challenges to have been supported are confirmed and were included in the Autumn Budget.
- £120m for Made Smarter – Industrial digitisation
Manufacturing and materials innovation funding has been greatly lacking since the previous Innovate UK competition structure ended. Since April there has been no dedicated themed competition and only 21 projects have been funded in this area. Compare this to the same period last year where 133 projects were funded under the manufacturing and materials competition stream.
Made Smarter aims to raise UK Manufacturing’s total productivity by 30%, lead the 4th industrial revolution and deliver clean growth. The ISCF Challenge follows from an industry review and pilot completed in 2018. Key priorities include halving the time from design to production, halving labour, waste, energy and emissions, digital twinning in factories, and reducing lead times. Relevant technology solutions surround: robotics and automation, machine learning and analytics, cyber security and blockchain, data visualisation and VR/AR, additive manufacture, industrial IoT and sensor integration, human factors, and supply chain management.
We expect there to be huge interest in this challenge.
- £78m for the Stephenson Challenge:
The focus of this challenge is power electronics, motors and drives innovation targeting electrification and decarbonisation in transport, industrial and energy industries. The Challenge objective is UK manufacture of £5bn more motor drives by 2025. Key innovation drivers are cost reduction, lighter systems, increasing power density, and enabling smarter systems. This challenge aligns with the wave 1 Faraday Challenge and both the Mobility and Clean Growth grand challenges.
- £79m Accelerating detection of disease
The challenge will build a world-first cohort of healthy participants to support research, early diagnosis, prevention and treatment across the major diseases.
- £60m Sustainable Packaging
This challenge is designed to support development of new forms of packaging and plastic, smart packaging labels, ‘live’ sell-by-date patches and to reduce single use plastics.
- £125m Future Flight
This programme will invest in developing demonstrators of new aircraft (such as drones and other electric aircraft), new models of airspace management, new approaches to ground support infrastructure and new markets for aircraft in local areas.
- £66m Transforming Foundation Industries
The government will also be supporting the transformation of our foundation industries (steel, glass, ceramics, chemicals) with up to £66 million through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to develop radical new technologies and establish innovation centres of excellence in these sectors.
Whilst we can’t say for certain what other challenges will emerge we have gathered together the pieces of insight we have to outline the possibilities.
- Space Data Revolution
The National Satellite Test Facility was funded under ISCF Wave 1, but as yet no support for Space Industry R&D has been available. Britain is a world leader in application of space data, funding will look to consolidate and extend this position (source: Space Growth Partnership).
In 2017 the Photonics Leadership Group identified four key challenges within the photonics industry: ubiquitous data, accurate location information, digital laser production, and improving home healthcare. Whether this will result in a stand-alone challenge or support the challenges selected remains to be seen (source: photonicsuk.org).
Over the last 12 months Sector Deals have been agreed for Life Sciences, Automotive, Construction, Creative Industries, Nuclear and AI. Recent developments have seen an update to the Life Sciences Deal, and announcement of both the Rail and Aerospace Sector Deals.
Upcoming sector deals include those for Food and Drink Manufacturing, Tourism, and Offshore Wind.
These sectors do not have any ISCF challenges currently associated with them, however following the trends of previous sector deals, funding is likely to materialise. Watch this space.
If you are interested grant funding and think your innovation fits in any of the sectors mentioned today, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you assess and formulate a project application even before competitions open. And you will be at the top of our list for when they do!