Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Industry Impact Fund

The Industry Impact Fund (I2F) is designed to support UK industry through access to STFC facilities and scientific expertise. STFC operates the UK national facilities offering X-rays, neutrons and lasers alongside high performance computing (modelling, artificial intelligence, machine learning) enabling the private sector to utilise the expertise and specialist technology to generate industrial and societal impact.

I2F is themed and seeking applications with interests in the following areas:

  • energy
  • net zero
  • security and defence
  • health

These themes are to support ongoing government priorities in the UK Science and Technology Framework and links to the overarching UK Research and Innovation strategic themes.

Who can apply

To be eligible, proposed activities must:

  • include a project manager from your organisation who is able to work with an STFC department or facility
  • have a technical challenge or issue that can be addressed by STFC

The project manager must be named on the form and act as the main point of contact for the STFC team.

Your business must be based in the UK and registered at Companies House to be eligible for this funding.

Projects are expected to last for three to six months addressing different themes during the two-year period between April 2023 and March 2025.

Projects up to eight months will be considered but may be deprioritised over a project that fits within the six-month time frame.

What we're looking for

The I2F programme is intended to assist companies in overcoming currently intractable product, material or process performance challenges in manufacturing or services which have a high economic impact. It provides them access to advanced analytical technologies and supporting expertise.

Scope

Projects are selected where there is clear evidence that UK economic growth will result from participation in the programme.

Examples include:

  • improving energy efficiency in manufacturing processes
  • materials development for hydrogen storage
  • development of photovoltaics
  • aerodynamics of wind turbines
  • lubricants to improve engine efficiency
  • materials for detectors in hydrogen applications
  • development of biofuels
  • improving batteries for electrical storage
  • data analytics to improve manufacturing or service processes
  • modelling and simulation to optimise design

Out of scope:

  • fundamental research
  • market research
  • scoping studies

You are required to clearly describe how solving your problem can result in economic impact to the company.

We are currently accepting applications from companies that have interests or a product that have applications within any of our stated themes.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • reduction of energy consumption
  • alternative energy
  • development and testing of materials for energy applications and energy storage
  • data usage to promote greener outcomes
  • vaccine development
  • aerosol particle characterisation
  • drug delivery mechanisms

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project may be up to £100,000 with payment going directly to the STFC facility or department concerned. Your company will not be in direct receipt of cash through this scheme but instead are granted access to STFC facilities and expertise up to the value of the proposed project.

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as minimal financial assistance (MFA).

This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 of support to an enterprise in a three year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of STFC making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

  • the elapsed part of the current financial year
  • the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year

You must include any funding which you have received during the applicable period under:

  • MFA (previously referred to as Special Drawing Rights)
  • De Minimis Regulation

You do not need to include aid or subsidies which have been granted on a different basis, such as an aid award granted under the General Block Exemption Regulation.

Further information about the Subsidy Control Act 2022 requirements can be found in the Subsidy Control Act 2022.

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022, you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your company.

In kind or cash contributions

In addition to the MFA rules it is required that you contribute an in kind or cash contribution proportional to the project cost based upon your business size.

Projects should contribute matched funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • minimum of 30% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • minimum of 40% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • minimum of 50% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.

How to apply

The initial application process requires companies to submit a concise (approximately 500 words) challenge statement (DOCX, 33KB), describing the problem or challenge.

You are not required to describe the project you want to do. Instead, you will need to describe the problem, its nature, any techniques already tried and the value and benefit of solving it.

If approved, you will work together with STFC business development and scientific and technical staff to develop a fully costed project proposal. Projects will be selected based on the economic and societal impact, the value and benefit to the company and the ability of STFC to address the problem.

We must receive your challenge statement by 14 March 2024 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to submit your challenge statement after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation before this date.

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

Challenge statements are submitted by emailing a completed form to i2f@stfc.ukri.org

How we will assess your application

All challenge statements will be subject to a review panel which will consist of experts from relevant STFC facilities and departments.

Assessment criteria

The assessment will be against the following criteria:

  • is there a problem to be solved or a process or product or material to be improved
  • does it fit the required theme
  • is there a tangible and realistic return to the company
  • does it add value to the UK economy
  • can STFC provide a solution

If not accepted at this stage, appropriate feedback or guidance will be provided to you.

If the challenge is accepted, you will develop a project proposal in collaboration with the relevant STFC department. This must be fully costed and time bound.

The application will then be panel reviewed taking into consideration:

  • feasibility of the project
  • potential impact from the proposed project
  • leadership, planning and project management
  • funding requirements

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

Matt Chisholm or Izhar Ul-Haq

Email: i2f@stfc.ukri.org

Include ‘I2F Scheme’ in the subject line.

We aim to respond within three working days.

Additional info

Briefing events

A number of briefing events will be held in-person across the UK:

  • Cardiff: 9 February 2024
  • Edinburgh: 15 February 2024
  • London: 22 February 2024

If you wish to attend, please reserve your spot via Eventbrite.

Supporting documents

Industry Impact Fund challenge statement form (DOCX, 33KB)

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