Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Host a Hartree SME engagement spoke

Apply for funding to host a spoke as part of the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) small and medium enterprise (SME) engagement programme.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for STFC funding.

Each spoke must:

  • demonstrate targeted, locally accessible support for SMEs
  • improve the competitiveness and growth of SMEs through the use of new techniques and methods
  • encompass the transfer and exchange of artificial intelligence knowledge and industrial engagement.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £1.5 million. STFC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. We will fund three spokes.

Funding is available for three years.

Who can apply

You must adhere to STFC’s eligibility criteria.

Check if you are eligible for STFC funding.

The principal investigator for this funding opportunity must be based at an organisation eligible for funding for the duration of the grant. Eligible organisations are:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • catapults.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Hartree’s remit covers industry engagement through high performance computing, artificial computing and data science. Hartree currently focuses on the following industrial sectors, and would encourage applications from researchers in the following fields:

  • space and aerospace
  • automotive
  • professional services
  • materials and material chemistry
  • health and healthcare
  • life sciences
  • energy generation and energy distribution
  • utilities
  • professional services
  • agri-food and agri-tech.

Experience requirements

We encourage applicants with experience in supporting high value SMEs in piloting and adopting new and innovative technologies, preferably in the high performance computing, data science and artificial intelligence areas.

What we're looking for

The aim of HNCDI SME engagement programme funding opportunity is to invite proposals from consortia to establish a Hartree spoke as part of the programme.

The goal of this opportunity is to identify up to three consortia each of whom will establish one spoke.


The primary objective of the SME engagement programme is to establish a network of SME-supporting centres. This will consist of an anchor facility (hub) based at the Hartree Centre, which offers access to a full array of advanced services and resources, including:

  • computers
  • visual computing
  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • data analytics tools and expertise.

The hub will be complemented by regional facilities (spokes) that will have a more limited range of resources and expertise, but which can access the facilities and expertise at the Hartree Centre hub as required.

The further objectives of the programme are to:

  • select up to three regional spokes over the duration of the HNCDI programme
  • deliver 160 meaningful SME engagements over three years
  • deliver 66 SME projects over three years.

Engagements and projects

Engagements will typically be a short (12 hour) intervention but could also include:

  • participation (partial) in Hartree’s Industrial Digital Accelerator programme
  • participation in hackathons
  • demonstration of existing AI toolsets.

Projects will be longer in duration (three to four months long) and are likely (but not limited) to focus on:

  • data pipelining and engineering
  • feasibility studies
  • small proof on concept and technology projects, potentially using:
    • off-the-shelf tooling
    • open source models
    • HNCDI digital assets
  • participation in Hartree’s Industrial Digitalisation Accelerator programme.

Both engagements and projects should be free at the point of delivery. However, SME effort to support both types of intervention will be required and will be recorded.

Both SME engagements and projects will have the overriding remit to enhance SMEs understanding, utilisation and adoption of existing AI and data analytics technology and toolsets to reach their growth potential.

Spoke requirements

Each spoke will:

  • demonstrate targeted, locally accessible support for SMEs to identify, pilot and adopt data analytics and AI tools
  • detail how it will improve the competitiveness and growth of the SMEs engaged through the programme through the adoption of new techniques and methods
  • demonstrate how it will encompass the transfer and exchange of AI knowledge and industrial engagement across multiple participating organisations.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £1.5 million. STFC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. We will fund three spokes.


Funding is available for three years.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Hartree SME Engagement Spokes.

This will populate:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Hartree SME Engagement Spokes.

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.


STFC must receive your application by 29 September 2022 at 16:00.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


Case for support

You must attach a case for support in your application.

Your case for support should:

  • encompass HNCDI efforts to increase the democratisation and adoption of high performance computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and data science within SMEs and support their digital transformation journey
  • demonstrate targeted, locally accessible support for SMEs to identify, pilot and adopt data analytics and AI tools
  • detail how it will improve the competitiveness and growth of the SMEs engaged through the programme through the adoption of new techniques and methods
  • demonstrate how it will encompass the transfer and exchange of AI knowledge and industrial engagement across multiple participating organisations
  • be clear and concise and cover the full request for support, including an explicit analysis of costs, risks and benefits
  • justify your requested start date.

Guidance on the contents of the case for support is provided below.

Aims and objectives

The intended outputs and outcomes of the project should be stated clearly, so that the success or failure of the project can easily be determined at the end of the funded period.

Project description

The scope of the project should be described, setting out the key work areas and international landscape. Highlight what will be delivered and on what timescale.

Strategic fit and relevance

You must include a knowledge exchange case summary stating the main knowledge exchange goals and objectives.

Awareness and context

You must describe the current status of related activity regionally and nationally and how this proposal builds on the previous work.

Justify the proposed start dates of the grants and include how responsibilities are to be shared among the collaborators.

The proposal will promote strong SME community engagement throughout the project. Explain how the project will have a strong supportive user base among the relevant regional community.

Track record

Describe the proponents track record in this field. A list of UK participants should be provided with justification for STFC support. Explain why the consortium is the best or most appropriate to carry out this project.

Project management

The management and reporting structure of the project should be outlined.

Information should be given about the way in which the project is to be led and managed. This must describe the following information.

Project organisation and participants

You must provide a project structure diagram and organogram identifying key individuals or bodies and reporting lines.

Arrangements should be described to enable project progress and performance to be managed effectively. The key stakeholders in the project should be identified.

Project monitoring and reporting

The proposal should define the methods to be used for progress reporting and control. The plan includes frequency and attendance for progress meetings, the acceptance process for key deliverables and milestones, and the frequency and content of progress reports.

Work breakdown structure (WBS)

This includes setting out the key work packages together with a description of the key deliverables and tasks required to deliver them. The WBS should be broken down sufficiently to allow key work-packages and activities within the project to be understood.

Scheduling and resourcing

Milestones and deliverables should be defined in sufficient detail so that it is clear when they have been met and be sufficiently frequent to enable effective monitoring of the project.

Risk management

A risk register must be provided. The management of risks must be described.


Describe those activities that will be undertaken to support outreach and public engagement activities. Include how the potential impacts of the work, including knowledge exchange, will be realised. You should list relevant publications and references.

How we will assess your application

A review panel will be convened by HNCDI management board to provide assurance that the proposals are achievable within the costs and schedule proposed and will recommend an award to the programmes directorate.

The review panel will meet in October 2022 to review proposals. A decision should be made no later than 1 November 2022.

Assessment criteria

The panel will comment on the following areas.

Strategic value within the HNCDI programme

This includes:

  • the methods of industrial engagement proposed
  • scientific and technical capabilities proposed in respect to meeting the requirements of the regional SME community
  • the competency, track record and appropriateness of the collaboration to undertake the proposed work
  • the level of engagement with the regional SME community.

Planning and project management

This includes:

  • the proposed level of project management
  • scheduling, resourcing and timeliness of the proposed work
  • monitoring and reporting
  • evaluation of the risks (including technical) associated with implementation of the project and appropriateness of the requests for working allowance and contingency.

Social and economic impact

This includes:

  • the potential application of the proposal’s technologies in other fields
  • UK industrial engagement
  • the development of transferable skills.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Duncan Sime, Head of Business and Development, Hartree Centre


Include ‘SME Engagement Spokes’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within two working days.

Clair Donaldson, Associate Director, Hartree Centre


Include ‘SME Engagement Spokes’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within two working days.

Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

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Additional info

About the programme

Putting the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) and data revolution is one of the four grand challenges in the UK Industrial Strategy. The industrial strategy white paper estimates that AI could add £232 billion to the UK economy by 2030. The UK is currently at the forefront of AI research through the efforts of our world-class universities and the Turing Institute.

To help realise the full economic potential of AI and advanced computing, the new HNCDI has been established. Machine learning and deep learning AI workloads are increasingly being built on high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure. This is to support the demanding compute and data-intensive nature of processes used to tackle challenges which will bring about major transformation for UK businesses.

HNCDI is building on Hartree and IBM expertise and focusing on translating HPC enabled AI into scalable tools and techniques for UK government and businesses.

As an innovation-led centre, HNCDI is developing solutions, which can be widely adopted by UK industry including, where appropriate, SMEs to enhance productivity across sectors, and distinguish the UK as a world-leader in the application of AI.

HNCDI is also providing industry and government with insights into the future of computing, with a particular focus on quantum computing and the opportunities it can offer.

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