MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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Opportunities for Sensors and Electronics in Aerospace – £10m Innovate UK Funding Call

Innovative aeroplane

Electronics & Sensors for Aerospace: HITEA Consortia Building Event

3rd June 2015, RAF Museum, London

The Knowledge Transfer Network will be hosting a free one-day event to support consortia building for the Innovate UK collaborative competition – Game Changing Technologies for Aerospace.

Innovate UK is to invest £10m in collaborative research and development and feasibility studies to accelerate the commercialisation of highly innovative technologies for civil aerospace. Click here for more information on this funding call.

Of interest are technology solutions which can provide a benefit to areas such as:

  • New manufacturing solutions that enhance cost effectiveness and affordability and/or support increasing rates of production;
  • Improved competiveness through novel or advanced materials and associated processing technologies;
  • Technologies that enable improvements to overall vehicle performance and efficiency;
  • Reduced cost of vehicle ownership through novel technologies or process solutions;
  • New modeling and simulation techniques.

This one-day event aims to bring together the Sensors and Electronics Communities with the Aerospace Community to address these challenges, discuss requirements and form consortia for the competition.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Brian Allen, QinetiQ
  • Phil McGoldrick, Safran Group
  • Innovate UK
  • The Knowledge Transfer Network

With additional talks from:

  • National Physical Laboratory
  • BP Oil
  • Cranfield Univeristy
  • Southampton University
  • KDP Electronics Systems Ltd.
  • TBG Solutions Ltd.
  • Arralis Technologies Ltd.

There is the opportunity for sensor and electronics developers to have 5-minute pitches at this event. If you are interested in this – please indicate so when registering.


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Simulation and design workshop

EPSRCs Manufacturing the Future team and Innovate UK are inviting Expressions of Interest to participate in a workshop to help identify the state of the art in fundamental simulation and modelling techniques that can help improve the design process within Engineering Design.

The workshop will focus on the following four areas:

  • Optimisation – Obtaining the best value using an automatic methodology employing mathematic and computational tools and methods.
  • Multiphysics – Multi-disciplinary coupled simulation or multi-physics simulation.
  • Materials Modelling – Characterising and modelling of structures.
  • Multiscale – The integration of detailed models of a wide range of scales (eg micro-macro, 1D-2D-3D, detailed+simplistic, etc).

The workshop will be held on the 16 July 2015 and aims to encourage discussion between a diverse range of research interests to explore current and potential research areas and identify approaches for future programmes of work. Places will be limited so if you are interested in participating in this workshop please complete the Expression of Interest form at the bottom of this page by 16:00 on 10 June 2015. Submission of an Expression of Interest will be taken to mean availability for this date and a commitment to attend if selected.

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Enhancing the user experience in retail

Innovate UK is to invest up to £4 million to support new ways of enhancing user experience in retail and is looking for projects that convert data about people into valuable insights that improve the user experience for customers and lead to commercial gains (for example, more customers, higher sales and increased profits) for retailers.

The competition is open to companies of any size in working in partnership. Proposals must be led by a business.

Small and medium sized businesses could receive up to 60% of their eligible project costs and large businesses 50%.

Projects should last 12 to 24 months and total project costs to range in size from £400,000 to £1 million.

The competition opens on 16 March 2015. The deadline for registration is noon on 6 May 2015, and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 13 May 2015.

More information is available here:


Companies wanting to enhance their products and services must understand, anticipate and interpret their customers’ needs, behaviours and desires.

Retailers now have access to increasing amounts of data about customers and transactions, which they could use to engage more effectively with customers and to improve products and services.

Data analysis technologies can help retailers understand customers better so they provide the kind of user experience that attracts more customers, increases purchases per customer and ultimately leads to higher profits.

Research from Nesta (Inside the Datavores suggests that UK businesses that use data-based analysis are 25% more likely to launch new products and services, and to see an increase in their profits. However, retailers are less likely than businesses in other sectors to use data analytics in their business decisions.

The very largest retailers have the capacity to innovate, but many are discouraged by the considerable investment required in terms of time, money and expertise to use data analysis tools effectively.

Personal data may be directly or indirectly created by an individual and their activity. It includes both sensitive data, such as transactions and banking, and behavioural data, for example how they navigate through an e-commerce site.

This competition encourages businesses, data scientists and designers to explore ways in which knowledge and insights gained from analysis of personal data can be used to enhance the user experience for customers, and create commercial gains for retailers.

Proposals should develop new ways of using personal data to enhance the user experience. Successful applications should demonstrate understanding of how user-centred business design using personal data can create benefits for customers and show evidence of commercial gains for retailers.

Successful projects should lead to one or more of the following:

  • applying data technologies to open up new opportunities and enhance existing businesses
  • proprietary data collaboration between retailers and third-party innovators to develop new services
  • using data from sensors, beacons, barcodes and other Internet of Things devices to relate customer experience to their surroundings
  • integrating physical and online customer journeys
  • developing or enhancing business models or customer experience with open data and/or open APIs (application program interfaces)
  • lowering the barriers to using data tools: making existing data analytics techniques more accessible; developing new techniques and algorithms; presenting them in an easy to use way

Successful projects can focus on large user groups or on personalised solutions for individuals.

Solutions must focus on capturing value from the data gathered, rather than being about new ways to collect data. Also the commercial gain from personal data must come from improving the user experience, not by selling data to third parties, etc.

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£9 million Innovate UK call for ‘Integrated transport: local authority solutions’

Innovate UKSummary: Innovate UK is to invest up to £9 million in collaborative research and development to stimulate innovation in integrated transport solutions for local authorities. The aim of this competition is to meet user needs by connecting people and/or goods to transport products and services. New or improved systems will be tested in environment laboratories.

Award: Up to £9 million. Innovate UK expect total project size to range between £2 million and £4 million and last up to 2 years, although they may consider projects outside this range.

Registration deadline: 18 Mar 2015

Registration is required to enter this competition. Please note that registration will close 1 week before the competition application deadline.

Submission deadline: 25 Mar 2015

Further details: Please see the Innovate UK webpage here and contact the RKE office if you are interested in this call.

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New Innovation Voucher Scheme Opens – All Sectors

The Innovation Voucher scheme is open once more and is available to all sectors.

This is run by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) and is a fund for Small and Medium Businesses (SMEs) to access expertise in universities.

The company will apply for the fund and, if successful, then “spends” the voucher with a university of choice.

It is a simple application and selection is (unusually!) via a lottery.

If you know of an SME who would like to explore a problem with MMU please do forward this information onto them and talk to your local Business Development Manager or us here in the RKE office for support.

More Details

An Innovation Voucher gives you up to £5,000 to work with an external expert for the first time. It allows you to gain new knowledge to help your business innovate, develop and grow.

That expert help could be advice on a novel idea, on using design within your business or on how to make the most of intellectual property (IP).

Our national Innovation Voucher scheme gives you access to a wide range of expert suppliers. They include universities, further education colleges, research and technology organisations, Catapult centres and technical, design and IP consultancies.

We allocate Innovation Vouchers after a ballot from all applications. If successful, you will be awarded an innovation Voucher of up to £5,000 to engage an expert of your choice. You can spend more if you wish, but we will reimburse only up to £5,000 – and you must pay any VAT due.

The application process is online through the Innovate UK website. You can apply at any time, with around 100 vouchers being awarded every three months – in October, January, April and July.

In making an application, you must register with our online network _connect, entering your business details. You can also register in advance.  _connect also gives you access to a wide range of information and useful contacts.

You then need to answer a few short questions about your idea, the impact it could have on your business and the kind of supplier that you might consider working with.

This should take around 30 minutes, provided you are clear from the start what you want to do.

The process will also ask about the size of your business and any public support you may have received in the last three years. That’s so you can check that you meet the eligibility rules.

You are eligible for Innovation vouchers if:

  • you are a start-up, micro, small or medium-sized business located in the UK
  • it’s the first time you have worked with your chosen knowledge supplier
  • you need specialist help to meet a business challenge
  • you have not previously had an Innovation Voucher from Innovate UK (previously the Technology Strategy Board).

An Innovation Voucher will give you experience of working with external experts as well as helping you to move forward with a particular idea. It can also help you think through an idea that might lead you to apply for other support from Innovate UK.

Innovation Vouchers cannot be used to fund staff training or to buy equipment, off-the-shelf software, or marketing or branding items. Nor can they be used to source standard business advice.

What happens after I apply?

Applications for Innovation Vouchers will be entered into a random draw every three months. We will let you know online if you have been successful or not.

As part of our eligibility checks we may ask you for additional information before making an offer of an Innovation Voucher. If you are unsuccessful you can try again. The Innovation Vouchers scheme is not an assessed competition so there is no feedback. We will tell you only that you have been unsuccessful and that you may re-enter in a later round. If you are successful, and have passed our eligibility check, we will give you 10 working days to accept our terms and conditions.

You can then select a supplier of your choice – someone you have not worked with before – to obtain the knowledge your business needs to innovate.

The supplier must be a UK-registered company or public sector organisation.

Once the work is completed and you are satisfied with the service from the supplier, ask them for a short report and pay their invoice. You then redeem your Innovation Voucher with Innovate UK for up to £5,000, paying any VAT charged. We ask you summarise what you have purchased with the Innovation Voucher and how it will benefit your business.

The entire Innovation Process is online – from the application, through acceptance, to your submission of supplier details, to completion of your report on the work undertaken and submitting your claim for costs. No announcement or reminder emails will be issued. At each stage the next thing you need to complete will be available online.

The Innovation Voucher must be used and the money claimed from us by the published ‘claim by’ date – around 6 months. Before you apply, make sure you can complete everything on time.

Once you have accepted the offer of an Innovation Voucher from us you cannot receive another Innovation Voucher from the same scheme.

Key Information


  • Available to anyone starting up or running a micro, small or medium-sized business anywhere in the UK
  • Up to £5,000 for your business to get the help of an external expert to develop ideas and improve performance.

How it works

  • Provide details of your business and answer a few simple questions about why you want an Innovation Voucher and what you plan to do
  • At least 100 applications are randomly selected every three months
  • If successful, you choose a supplier to work with and carry out the work
  • You have six months to use the Innovation Voucher and claim the funding from Innovate UK
  • Along with a supplier report and a paid invoice, you provide a short summary with your claim for funding, to explain how you used the Innovation Voucher.