Manufacturing and Materials Round 3


UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £15 million to work on innovation projects in manufacturing and/or materials.  Funding available for projects that focus on identified technical or commercial challenges. These should lead to increased productivity, competitiveness and growth for UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  Projects to range in size from total project costs of £50,000 to £2 million. Projects should last between 6 months and 3 years.  Projects must involve at least one SME, working alone or in collaboration with other organisations. Projects longer than 12 months or with costs of £100,000 or more must be collaborative with other partners.

Competition Scope:

The aim of this competition is to stimulate and broaden innovation in manufacturing and materials. Innovate UK will fund a range of projects that address identified technical or commercial challenges.  Projects should increase productivity, competitiveness and growth for UK businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

A project may focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. The categorisation will depend on the type of challenge being addressed.  Innovation is required to grow UK manufacturing productivity, increase material efficiency and sustain our competitiveness in the long term.

For example, this may be achieved by:

  • developing more flexible and efficient processes
  • developing processes that enable faster and greater customisation of products to satisfy consumer demands
  • developing materials for ease of manufacture
  • addressing the manufacturing readiness of growing sectors
  • developing materials for targeted performance specifications
  • diversifying product and service lines to address new markets
  • developing novel services and/or business models, that open up new sources of revenue from manufacturing

A project must cover at least one, from either of, the following areas:

  • innovation in a manufacturing system, technology, process or business model. For example, in process engineering, additive manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, mechanical conversion processes, coatings, surface engineering, textiles, supply chain management, new product introduction processes or remanufacture, or application of digital technology to a manufacturing approach
  • innovation in materials development, properties, integration or reuse. For example, materials for light-weighting, energy generation and storage (heat and electricity), electronics/sensors, bonding and joining technologies, or operation in demanding environments. Also includes the use of digital technologies to reduce time for material development, evaluation and assurance

For this competition, materials include but are not limited to:

  • nanomaterials
  • ceramics
  • metals and inter-metallics
  • polymers
  • composites
  • coatings
  • smart materials
  • joining of dissimilar materials

You must show how your proposal will enable a step change in competitiveness and productivity for at least one UK SME involved in the project.

Your project must focus on a manufacturing or materials innovation, rather than a product innovation. This means the main challenge and risk in the project will be in the manufacturing process or materials development.

An element of production innovation could be in scope. For example, a process or materials innovation could depend on a product innovation, such as a tool or piece of equipment. The main purpose of that product innovation would be to enable the manufacturing process or materials innovation.

We encourage projects for manufacturing and/or materials innovations with the potential to impact on more than one application sector.

Key Dates:

Competition opens Monday 8 May 2017
Briefing event for applicants Monday 8 May 2017
Application deadline Midday Wednesday 12 July 2017

If you are interested in this competition?

Please email the Innovation SuperNetwork team at or complete the form below so we can help you and guide you through the application process.

Interested in this Challenge?
Please fill in the form below to find out more about this and other Innovation Challenges.

Our work is only possible with the support of our local and national partners, including Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network, the North East LEP, Northumbrian WaterNorth East BIC, and Reece Innovation with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Huge thanks go to all our partners.