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Manufacturing made smarter: round 1 (fast start)

Registration is closed
Funding details
Registration opens
24 Jul 2019, 00:00
Registration closes
28 Aug 2019, 00:00
28 Aug 2019, 00:00
Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £10 million. Total funding available to each project must not exceed 40% of the total eligible project costs. Of the 40% you can get funding for feasibility and industrial research projects up to 70% depending on business size.
Innovate UK

The Industry Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will invest up to £30 million in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. The challenge will support innovation and deployment of IDTs across industry sectors via cross-sector collaboration and learning.

We welcome a variety of project types, from feasibility studies to large innovation and/or demonstrator projects.

Projects must be able to achieve rapid technology development and deployment.

We will use a portfolio approach to achieve a balance between the 4 challenge themes (see below), industrial sectors, project types and company sizes.

All projects must be ready to start on or before 1 December 2019, with a defined consortium agreement, agreed industry match funding and a project plan.

Projects must be business led and collaborative, with all consortia involving at least one SME. Projects led by SMEs are encouraged.

Projects must focus on at least one of the 4 innovation themes. Please choose the most applicable theme.

  1. Smart connected factory, including:
    use of real-time data to optimise operational efficiency
    capture, analysis and visualisation of manufacturing processes
  2. Connected and versatile supply chain, including:
    information integration, communication, traceability and trust
  3. Design, make, test, including:
    transforming product design through digital technologies
    virtual product testing, verification and validation, quality monitoring and inspection
  4. Adaptable, flexible manufacturing operations and skills, including:
    culture change and skills development to fully utilise technologies
    human-centric automation and autonomy to enable expandable, flexible manufacturing systems

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £10 million.

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request.

Projects must be collaborative and involve an SME.

You must start your project on or before 1 December 2019 and end by 31 October 2021. They can last between 6 months and 2 years

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK based manufacturing business of any size
  • collaborate with other businesses, research and technology organisation (RTO), public sector organisations or charities
  • involve at least one SME
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

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 eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

A business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading an application, they can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

An RTO or academic institution can collaborate in any number of applications.


The aim of this competition is to fund projects focussed on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Projects must be able to achieve short-term impact and rapid technology development.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories. Projects should involve a mix of digital technologies, rather than focus on one specific technology.

Projects can be led by any industry sector but must show they are applicable in at least 2 other sectors. Larger projects should include partners from these sectors.

Applicable sectors include but are not limited to:

  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • defence
  • digital
  • equipment and instrumentation
  • food and drink
  • pharma
  • oil and gas
  • space

You should outline:

  • how the project enables innovation and deployment of IDTs within manufacturing
  • how the output and learning from the project will be shared across at least 2 other sectors
  • how the project addresses the objectives below

The ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge Programme objectives are:

  • Increase UK manufacturing sector investment in industrial digitalisation research and development (R&D) and adoption of new IDTs.
  • Increase cross-sector collaboration between UK manufacturing sectors to drive the creation of common digital solutions.
  • Increase number of digital technology companies providing solutions for manufacturing industries
  • Increase number of collaborations between SMEs and larger, more established companies up the value chain.
  • Increase UK manufacturing and digital manufacturing solution exports.