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Innovate UK opens Innovation In Infrastructure Systems competition - share of up to £15 million to develop innovative solutions

Innovate UK has today opened a competition offering to invest up to £15 million in innovation projects in the infrastructure systems sector, including solutions that provide for connected transport.

Through its innovation in infrastructure systems competition it is looking to support projects that offer disruptive solutions to challenges relating to infrastructure systems.

In its Competition brief: innovation in infrastructure systems, Innovate UK estimates the annual global capital project and infrastructure spend are over £6 trillion per year by 2025.

Innovate UK, in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Network, will be hosting consortia building events across the UK. See below to see your nearest event and to register.


Innovate UK supports the development of radical solutions

There’s £425 billion of planned public and private infrastructure investment in the UK according to the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-21. Transport and energy account for £390 billion of this total. The market for systems ensuring smart and resilient infrastructure is growing fast. Factors that will stimulate future growth include societal challenges such as a growing population. They also include urbanisation and the need for decarbonisation.

Innovate UK sites that smart and resilient infrastructure solutions are likely to be multi-disciplinary in nature. They need collaboration across the economy between businesses in energy, construction and transport. They need to pull in new technologies from the digital, communications, sensors, electronics and novel materials sectors. These connections and collaborations are less likely to occur on their own. Innovate UK supports the development of radical solutions that businesses may not otherwise develop.

Proposed solutions for this competition should lead to significant improvements in performance, capacity, adaptability, functionality, productivity and resilience.

Projects are expected to range in budget from total project costs of £25,000 to £5 million although projects outside this range may be considered.

Projects must last between 3 months and 3 years and must include at least one UK-registered small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). If you are a UK SME, you can carry out a project with total costs of up to £100,000 as a single organisation or you can collaborate with others. Projects above £100,000 must be collaborative. A business must lead each project.


Two Streams

There are two streams for the infrastructure systems competition:

  • Stream 1 is for projects lasting up to 1 year with total costs of under £100,000
  • Stream 2 is for projects over 1 year or over £100,000

‘Infrastructure systems’ describes the systems that provide critical societal services. These include energy, mobility and those services that enable towns and cities to thrive. As these systems face increasing social and environmental pressures, we need innovation to ensure:

  • resilience to change
  • fitness for purpose in the future
  • optimal value from investment

The aim of this competition is to speed up and broaden the innovation which creates UK business growth in infrastructure systems.

Proposals may include technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development, and projects are to last between 3 months and 3 years.

To be in scope, a project must show clear and significant innovation in one or more of the following areas:

  • energy systems
  • nuclear fission
  • offshore wind
  • connected transport
  • urban living
  • smart, resilient and sustainable integrated infrastructure


Specific themes

Innovate UK is seeking applications for Connected transport that balance transportation infrastructure peak demands through innovative system design and integration, by connecting people and goods through intermodal transport, while improving network capacity, efficiency and operational cost.

Solutions in urban design should integrate different urban infrastructure systems. This will provide significant improvements in costs and user experience. These systems include:

  • ’hard’ systems such as energy, transport, waste, water and communication
    • ’soft’ systems such as data, security and sensors
    • ’social’ systems including law and justice, health, social care and education
    • ’environmental’ systems.


Out of scope

The competition will not fund:

  • innovations in technologies to generate only one of the following - electric power, motive power, light, heat or cooling. Note that civil nuclear fission and offshore wind are in scope
  • energy end-use efficiency, for example in domestic appliances, industrial processes, vehicles or building fabric
  • single transport modes or propulsion systems (for example automotive, rail, air or marine)
  • fossil fuels (exploration, appraisal, production, processing, transport, distribution or end use)
  • minor incremental innovations that are unlikely to improve UK economic/SME growth



To be eligible applicants must:

  • include at least one UK-based SME
  • carry out most of your project in the UK
  • have a project that lasts between 3 months and 3 years
  • have total eligible project costs of between £25,000 and £5 million. (If your project costs are outside this range, you should discuss this with us before 31 August 2016)
  • have a project that meets the descriptions of feasibility study, industrial research or experimental development
  • meet the criteria outlined in the competition scope.



To register and apply:

  • register online
  • read the guidance for applicants
  • attend the briefing for potential applicants in London on 12 July 2016 (in person or by webinar)
  • complete and submit an online application form


Briefing and consortia building events

Innovate UK, in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Network, will be hosting events across the UK previewing its forthcoming ‘Infrastructure Systems’ competition.

This £15 million competition will support businesses with scalable solutions for systemic challenges across energy generation and supply, transport and urban living: including solutions for connected transport that integrate multimodal transportation systems.

Sign up to secure your place.

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