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Double opportunity from Innovate UK worth £34 million for Infrastructure Systems and for first of a kind deployment of innovations

On 12 July Innovate UK and KTN hosted a briefing and networking event in London to launch two new funding competitions: the £15 million Innovation in infrastructure Systems and the £19 million first of a kind deployment of innovation competitions.

“Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland”, said Karla Jakeman, Innovate UK’s Connected Transport Portfolio Manager, in characterising her excitement in seeing likely technological developments expected for the future from the inside.

“We want to use these opportunities to help grow the UK economy”, she added in introducing the double-opportunity offering a combined £34 million of funding.

Infrastructure systems is one of four new over-arching sectors for Innovate UK. Two competitions are planned per sector per year, and this competition is the first for the infrastructure sector.


Innovation in infrastructure Systems

Harsh Pershad, Lead Technologist (Energy) at InnovateUK, highlighted the purpose for Innovate UK of the Innovation in infrastructure Systems for delivering “‘big hit’ opportunities that could really drive UK economic growth”.

The broad scope for the competition is to bring forward mid-level technology readiness innovations, while the separate First of a Kind deployment competition is intended for closer to market innovations.

For the competition, Innovate UK will support 3 to 36 month projects, with costs between £25,000 to £5 million.

Proposals are required to demonstrate potential for ‘step-change’ growth through innovations aligned with six themes, each identified as presenting opportunities within global markets, where the UK has competitive advantage, where market failure exists and now is the right time to invest.

The six themes are:

  • Energy systems - matching changing energy supply infrastructure with changes in demand
  • Civil Nuclear Fission
  • Offshore Wind
  • Connected Transport - integrated across multiple modes
  • Urban Living - citizen centric solutions
  • Smart, Reliant, Sustainable Integrated Infrastructure - innovations that bring together transport, energy and urban infrastructures at lower cost, efficiencies and capacities.

Registration deadline is noon on 14 September, and the application deadline is noon on 21 September.


First of Kind Deployment

Ian Millard introduced the second competition, first of a kind deployment of innovation, that’s designed for late-stage development of a product or service to overcome the barrier of proving an innovation to the market or customer.

It therefore applies where the basics of the innovation is already proved to works - but where the focus is on showing it works in the real-world.

This competition was described as a one-off, in that winners won’t get a grant but will be awarded a contract.

Phase 1 of the competition involves developing a repeatable business case and will be funded by contracts worth up to £50,000, to be completed this financial year.

Phase 2 involved demonstrations to show that the innovations deliver expected outcomes in the real world - and involves contracts worth between £250,000 and £5 million, to be completed within in one year.

The first of a kind deployment of innovation competition opened on 18 July and closes on 31 August, so has a faster application process.


Elevator pitches and other downloads 

The Elevator pitch presentations presented included, project ideas, among other, for novel traffic management techniques, geospatial innovations, use of advanced algorithms to itemise assets for driving modal shift from road to rail, and an urban transport system using cars in tunnels.

A recording of the second networking event held at Bristol on 19 July is also available.

At this event ideas presented in elevator pitches included ideas for exploring potential of the oneM2M data infrastructure for digitising local authority services and use of drones and other technologies for Remote Monitoring of rail infrastructure.

A final Infrastructure Systems Competition Brokerage Eventwill take place in Manchester on 21 July.


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