Overview

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £2 million to develop electronics, sensors and photonics (ESP) devices, components and/or sub-systems for robotics and AI (RAI) operations. Solutions must be capable of surviving and operating in extreme and challenging environments.

Scope

The aim of this competition is to support the development of electronics, sensors and photonics (ESP) components in robotic systems. These must improve robotic operations in extreme environments beyond what is currently possible.

ESP technologies and innovations include, but are not limited to, sensing and actuation, on-board electronics, radio frequency (RF) electronics, power supplies, control systems and task-oriented payloads.

Your solution must take into account the environmental and physical constraints that are typical of extreme environments.

Extreme environments can include, but are not limited to, off-shore and nuclear energy, space and deep mining.

Extreme and hazardous conditions may include extreme and variable temperature and pressure, lack of oxygen, high levels of radiation, reduced visibility and accessibility.

Your proposal must:

  • allocate the majority of the work to the development, hardening, integration and validation of ESP components, devices and/or sub-systems.
  • identify the precise operational scenario or scenarios for extreme and challenging environments in which the ESP technologies will be used
  • demonstrate awareness of the addressable market the solution is designed for

Your project must demonstrate:

  • a thorough understanding of whole system design requirements for RAI in extreme environments driven by mission-specific performance and regulatory targets (such as certification and testing for explosive environments following the IECEx)
  • technology developments in a laboratory or real environment, including one or more clear use cases and a corresponding integration path for RAI systems operating in extreme environments

Specific Themes

Your project can focus on one or more of these themes, or on another appropriate area:

  1. Optics and photonics based sensing e.g. light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies
  2. Compound semiconductor based electronics e.g. design/development of components such as advanced sensing, communication or actuation
  3. Packaging e.g. Hardening-by-design (HBD) techniques for ESP components
  4. Modelling and simulation e.g. investigation of electromagnetic effects or modelling of radiation shielding

Eligibility

For feasibility studies:

  • an SME must lead the project
  • your organisation can work alone or collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • total eligible project costs must be between £25,000 and £100,000
  • your project can last up to 12 months

For collaborative R&D (industrial research and/or experimental development):

  • a business, of any size, must lead the project
  • you must collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • your consortium must include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • total eligible project costs must be between £50,000 and £250,000
  • your project can last up to 18 months but must finish by 31 March 2021

For collaborative projects the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

You must carry out your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

Funding Costs

For feasibility studies and industrial research activities, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development activities 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 business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Any subcontracting costs must not exceed 20% of total project costs.

Exclusions

Projects will not be funded, that:

  • do not demonstrate a thorough understanding of system design requirements for RAI systems operations in extreme environments driven by mission-specific performance and regulatory targets
  • do not demonstrate awareness of the addressable market in relation to RAI systems in extreme environments
  • propose to develop ESP components, devices, sub-systems without identifying one or more operational scenarios for extreme and challenging environments in which ESP technologies will be used
  • focus only on ESP developments without directly addressing their dependable and survivable operation in extreme environments