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Could you help solve the innovation challenges of the UK’s public sector organisations? 100% of your R&D costs covered if you can.

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  • We're working in partnership with Innovate UK and a range of public sector organisations to fund and promote a series of innovation challenges currently faced by the UK's public sector.

Through this programme, we can help you access funding of up to £100,000 to test an idea, and up to £2 million or more to develop or demonstrate solutions in the field.

This offers you the chance to apply for a series of innovation challenges that provide 100% funding, through competitive R&D contract opportunities.

Pair your talents

We’re searching for fresh, original ideas to help us pair the talents of smaller companies with the business issues of public sector organisations.

Whether you’re re-purposing existing technology from another field or creating innovative solutions from scratch, we'll connect you with organisations that need your skills.

The innovation challenges cover a range of industry sectors, including:

  • Emerging and enabling technologies
  • Digital economy
  • Health and life sciences
  • Manufacturing and materials

And with our dedicated innovation support services, we’re able to support you all the way through the innovation journey.

Why should you get involved?

You'll have access to current and specific demands for new products and services. 

If successful, the funding will take you all the way to the crucial first customer trial and reference site, and offer you the opportunity to break into a large public sector market.

You retain the right to exploit your intellectual property and, potentially, use the initial public sector customer as a stepping stone into even larger private sector markets. 


Challenge competition

Can you develop technology solutions to better support diabetic pregnant women?

The Department of Health and Department for Economy in Northern Ireland has launched a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition to source new technology solutions to improve the health of women affected by gestational diabetes.

This competition has 2 phases

  • Phase 1: Technical feasibility - Projects should last up to 6 months and range in size up to a total cost of £60,000.
  • Phase 2: Development, evaluation and testing - If the feasibility testing in Phase 1 is successful, companies may be able to bid for Phase 2 contracts to continue prototype development and testing.

The competition opened on 30 June 2017 and closes on 25 August 2017.  

Find out more on the competition website

Business productivity portal

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £500,000 to develop solutions that provide information on improving business productivity.

Innovate UK is to invest up to £500,000 to develop solutions that provide businesses with access to information on improving productivity. These solutions will help businesses at all levels - leaders, management and employees - access new opportunities to improve productivity levels where they work. 

  • Competition opens: 24 July 2017 
  • Registration closes: 20 September 2017 at 12pm

Please communicate this opportunity to relevant business and research contacts and encourage them to consider if they have solutions that could be applied to this area 

Apply for innovation funding

Cancer: screening, earlier diagnosis & faster diagnosis

A new SBRI Healthcare competition is being launched by NHS England in partnership with the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to find innovative new products and services.  

The projects will be selected primarily on their potential value to the health service and on the improved outcomes delivered for patients.  The competition will run in two phases.  Total funding for phase one is up to £1.1 million.  Successful applicants can receive up to £100,000 for phase one, and up to a further £1 million for phase two for solutions that match the needs of the NHS.

Cancer remains one of the public’s most feared illnesses, affecting more than one in three of us in our lifetimes. We know that improving the ability to screen for and diagnose cancer earlier and faster – using tests that are accessible and minimally invasive, will enhance our already record high survival rates.

This competition is open to single companies or organisations from the private, public and third sectors, including charities. Full details can be found here.

 The competition closes at 12pm on 6 September 2017.

 Please communicate this opportunity to relevant business and research contacts and encourage them to consider if they have solutions that could be applied to this area.

Improving operations through machine learning

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £250,000 to develop machine learning solutions that will improve Innovate UK’s operations.

We are looking for as many ideas as possible for how machine learning can help Innovate UK make the best use of its existing data

Full details can be found here.

  • Competition opens: 24 July 2017
  • Registration closes: 6 September 2017 at 12pm

Please communicate this opportunity to relevant business and research contacts and encourage them to consider if they have solutions that could be applied to this area.

Improving Crowd Resilience

The Home Office are to invest up to £2 million in this Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) challenge competition. Total funding for phase one is up to £1 million with a further £1 million available for phase two projects.

The competition seeks innovative ideas to reduce the threat from the terrorist or malicious use of explosives and weapons in public spaces by using the crowd as a sensor. These capabilities and systems are to be used in crowded spaces, such as shopping centres, sports stadia and entertainment venues.

An innovation network event for this DASA competition will be held on 27 July 2017.

This competition closes on 20 September 2017. Proposals must be submitted to the Accelerator online.

Please communicate this opportunity to relevant business and research contacts and encourage them to consider if they have solutions that could be applied to this area.

Full details on the competition can be found in the competition document.

Apply now

CRACK-IT challenges 2017

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is an independent scientific organisation that supports the UK science base through the application of the 3Rs.  

NC3Rs have launched their 2017 CRACK IT Challenges, designed to:


  • Fund collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs
  • Minimise the use of animals in research
  • Support the development of marketable products and/or improved business processes

The 2017 Two Phase Challenges each have phase one funding of £100,000 - plus up to £1 million for phase two:


The 2017 Single Phase Challenge is Challenge 28: “RespiraTox”In silico model for predicting human respiratory irritation. (Sponsored by Shell). Phase 1 funding of up to £100k is available.

For more information on these Challenges and to apply, please visit the CRACK IT website. The competition will be launched at an event in central London on 7 September 2017. 

The deadlines for applications are 12pm on:


  • 8 November 2017 (Two Phase Challenges - phase one)
  • 15 November 2017 (Single Phase Challenge)

Please could you communicate this opportunity to relevant business and research contacts and encourage them to consider if they have solutions that could be applied to this area.

Register now

How we can support you

From product design to proof of concept, through prototype testing and market launch,  our experienced team of innovation advisers are on-hand to help.

We can support your innovations in a number of ways.

If you're looking for funding to research your ideas, improve existing products or develop new ones, then our advisers can provide the steer you need to get ahead.

Find out more about innovation support

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