Competition guidance for UK applicants: Shanghai-UK industrial challenge programme

Updated 27 April 2017

1. Dates and deadlines

Competition opens 12 April 2017
Competition briefing webinar event 21 April 2017
Final date for registration Midday (BST) 21 June 2017
Submission of the full application
including finance forms, appendices and Je-S forms deadline
Midday (BST) 28 June 2017
Decision to applicants End of August 2017

Please read the full competition scope before you make your application.

2. Funding

There is up to £5 million of funding available for UK businesses from Innovate UK. This is for research and development (R&D) projects that tackle the technical challenges described in the brief for this competition and includes an open element for all ideas.

Total UK project costs can be up to a maximum of £500,000. Projects are expected to last up to 36 months.

Please read our funding rules guidance for more information on the different categories of funding and the rules around our state aid framework.

3. Requirements and eligibility


  • in your application form, please select the primary type of research that you will be doing in the project and calculate the amount of grant you want to claim. This should be in line with the Innovate UK funding rules
  • you may be eligible to receive different rates of funding. This depends on the type and size of your organisation and the activity that you are doing in the project
  • submissions using the incorrect application form will not be considered eligible
  • submissions without complete or missing finance forms will not be considered eligible
  • all submission documents must be submitted in the correct file format as explained in this document: any document in an incorrect format will result in the entire application not being sent for assessment
  • if an application is unsuccessful, you can use the feedback received to re-apply for the same project once more into other Innovate UK competitions where applicable
  • if you have been awarded previous grants as the lead or sole company, no new awards will be made if we feel that you have not made a substantial effort to exploit these previous grants. This is detailed in the exploitation plan submitted in the applications for the previous grants. The decision will meet the following criteria:
    • it will be decided by the sector team concerned using evidence from Monitoring Officer reports and other sources which will be documented
    • it will be made by at least 3 sector team members collectively
    • it will be communicated in writing to the company by the Innovation Lead dealing with the new grant application
    • it will not be contestable and Innovate UK will not enter into subsequent correspondence


  • lead applicants must be a business registered and operating in the UK
  • all projects must be collaborative and include one UK based company and one R&D performing Shanghai-registered company operating in Shanghai
  • any one UK business can be involved in up to 3 applications to this competition but can only be the lead partner in one application
  • UK research organisations can contribute to projects as collaborators. The level of total research participation is set at a maximum of 30% of total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them
  • only UK based companies and research organisations can be funded by Innovate UK
  • we may consider projects outside the ranges described in section 2 but you must contact us via customer support services before 1 June 2017 to discuss further

For applicants from Shanghai:

  • one lump sum fund will be awarded not to exceed RMB 1 million per project
  • funding is for the entire duration of the project of around 36 months
  • the funding amount should not exceed 50% of the eligible and approved R&D costs of the project
  • the project partners should agree in advance a cooperation agreement, including how intellectual property (IP) rights will be managed
  • project results should be industrialised in China and the UK and show significant economic benefit
  • the applying company should have a sales agreement or acquisitions, technical transformation or cooperative research with foreign partners. A photocopy of this agreement or deal needs to be provided. In order to prove the previous year’s sales volume, the applying company should not have a sales volume lower than 30 million RMB in principle
  • the applying company should ensure the proportion of the self-financing and applied grants will be at least 2:1

4. The competition process

For this competition, Innovate UK will use a portfolio approach. This is to make sure that the strategic criteria described in the competition brief, is met for all projects considered to be above the quality threshold. This will be as a result of independent expert assessment.

  • submitted applications will be reviewed to make sure that they are both eligible and in scope for the competition
  • only applications that meet the eligibility and scope requirements of the competition will be sent for assessment
  • applications in scope will be assessed by up to 5 external assessors who are experts in the area of innovation identified in your application
  • assessors will score applications consistently and in line with scoring matrices. They will provide written feedback for each marked question
  • assessed applications will be ranked in descending order. Applications which score over a quality threshold are reviewed against Innovate UK’s strategy to build a portfolio of projects that:
    • are high quality
    • reflect a range as described in the scope and spread of project durations that fit the funding available
    • target opportunities across a range of industrial sectors, technologies, themes and priorities
    • demonstrate sufficient innovation, potential return on investment and degree of technical risk
    • demonstrate value for money, include the potential impact of the project relative to its cost, and the cost of other projects under consideration
  • the UK assessments will then be reviewed alongside the Shanghai municipality assessments and a joint decision will be made with regard to which projects will be funded
  • the lead applicants will be notified of the funding decision
  • all assessed applications for the competition will receive assessor feedback from UK assessors

5. How to apply

Before you apply into an Innovate UK competition, it is important to understand the whole application process. The information contained in this guidance is specific to this competition. In addition, please read our general guidance for applicants to give you further information that will help you to complete your application. Our general guidance will give further information on:

  • funding rules
  • help to define your organisation type
  • project costs
  • state aid
  • how to submit your application
  • categories of research and development
  • participation in a project

You will receive an email acknowledgement of your registration followed by a second email up to 48 hours later. The second email will contain a username and password for our secure upload facility along with a unique application number and form.

Application: Once you have received your unique username and password, you can log in to the secure website to access the finance form for this competition from the public download area.

Finance form: Only finance forms named ’Project Finance Form April 2017.xls’ will be accepted into this competition. Previous versions of the project finance form will be ineligible. When you register for the competition you will have access to our secure site. You will be able to download the finance form from the public area of this site.

Important: appendices must conform to the guidance for this specific competition. Appendices which do not follow the guidance will result in ineligible applications that will not be sent for assessment.

Submit your documents: You or your lead partner should submit to your FTP site:

  • your application form with your unique application number for this competition (mandatory)
  • project finance forms for every non-academic partner (including the lead organisation) in your project (mandatory)
  • Je-S submission pdf output document, confirming a ‘with council’ status for every academic partner in your project, if any (mandatory)
  • project appendices as PDF documents, labelled correctly as per the appendices guidance in section 10

Scope check: Only applications that meet the eligibility criteria and scope of the competition will be sent for assessment. You will be notified if your application is out of scope with a full explanation as to why. Innovate UK reserves the right to declare applications as out of scope.

Assessment: Once the scope and eligibility checks have been completed, all applications that are both eligible and in scope are sent for assessment.

Joint decision panel: The UK assessments will then be reviewed alongside the Shanghai municipality assessments and a joint decision will be made with regard to which projects will be funded.

Notification: We will notify the UK lead organisation of the outcome of the application by the date stated in the timeline, using the email address provided in the application form.

Feedback: Approximately 4 weeks after you have received your notification email, we will give feedback to all applications that have been assessed. The lead applicant can access and download the feedback by signing into the secure FTP site where you uploaded your application documents. It is the responsibility of the lead to communicate the feedback with the rest of the consortium, if applicable. No additional feedback can be provided and there will be no further discussion on the application.

6. The application form

This section explains the structure of the application form and offers guidance on what to answer in each question.

The structure is as follows:

  • application details
  • summary of proposed project
  • public description of the project
  • gateway question: scope
  • question 1: need or challenge
  • question 2: approach and innovation
  • question 3: team and resources
  • question 4: market awareness
  • question 5: outcomes and route to market
  • question 6: wider impacts
  • question 7: project management
  • question 8: risks
  • question 9: additionality
  • question 10: costs and value for money
  • other funding from public sector bodies
  • UK finance summary table
  • Shanghai municipality finance summary table

Please make sure that you upload the final version of your application by the deadline. It is the lead organisations’ responsibility to ensure that you do not upload a blank or incomplete application form.

  • you can only use the application form provided. It contains specific information including a unique reference number for your project
  • the application form contains specific fields. It is important that you complete each field and submit a fully completed form. Incomplete forms will be considered ineligible and won’t be sent for assessment
  • the application form must not be altered, converted or saved as a different version of Microsoft Word
  • the space provided in each field of the form is fixed. You must restrict your responses in each of the fields to the space provided. The typeface, font size and colour are predetermined and cannot be changed. Illustrations, graphics and hyperlinks cannot be included in the application form
  • the light grey shaded fields are completed automatically from other information entered on the form, such as the total columns of a table. These cannot be overwritten
  • you should be able to see your total answer to the question when looking at the application form in print view. Any text that cannot be seen in this view or when the form is printed will not be assessed

As part of our objective to stimulate and support UK innovation, we have established a close network of affinity partners. This list is made up of organisations that can help Innovate UK fund and support innovative businesses. Our joint aim is to speed up sustainable economic growth for the UK.

In some cases, we may share the public description of your project with other potential funding bodies, for example, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), agencies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These bodies may wish to contact you about providing funding or other support for your proposal.

Field Guidance
Competition name This field will show the full name of the Innovate UK competition to which the form applies. You do not need to enter anything here.
Document ID This field is completed automatically.
Applicant number This field is completed automatically and is the reference that you should use on all correspondence (this is the 6 digit number after the dash).
Application details  
Project title Enter the full title of the project.
Theme For infrastructure applications, please select from the drop down list.
For open applications, please enter the corresponding number from the list below:
1. Creative Industries: Media
2. Creative Industries: Computer Games
3. Creative Industries: Social Media
4. Creative Industries: Publishing
5. Creative Industries: General
6. Digital Services
7. Electronics, Photonics and Electrical Systems
8. Information and Communication Technology
9. Nanoscale Technologies
10. Materials
11. Biosciences: Industrial Biotechnology
12. Biosciences: Nutrition
13. Biosciences: ‘omics
14. Biosciences: General
15. Healthcare: Medical devices in-vivo
16. Healthcare: Medical devices ex-vivo
17. Healthcare: Diagnostics in vivo
18. Healthcare: Diagnostics in vitro
19. Healthcare: Therapeutic Development
20. Healthcare: E-health/M-health
21. Agriculture and Food
22. Manufacturing
23. Engineering
24. Environmental Sustainability: Resource Efficiency
25. Environmental Sustainability: Environmental Technologies
26. Environmental Sustainability: General
27. Energy Generation and Supply: Fuel Cells & Hydrogen
28. Energy Generation and Supply: Renewable Energy
29. Energy Generation and Supply: Nuclear
30. Energy Generation and Supply: General
31. Built Environment: Low Impact Buildings
32. Built Environment: General
33. Transport: Aerospace
34. Transport: Road: Low Carbon Vehicles
35. Transport: Road: other vehicles
36. Transport: Marine
37. Transport: Rail
38. Transport: Integrated Transport
39. Space Technologies
40. General: Not listed above
Research category Please select from the drop down list.
Project timescales Enter the estimated start date and its planned duration. These are indicative at this stage and are not guaranteed.
UK (lead) organisation name Enter the full registered name of the (lead) organisation for the project. If you are not in a consortium application, these will be your organisation details.
Please note that the lead organisation will be the main point of contact between Innovate UK and the project team.
UK (lead) organisation contact details Enter the full name, postcode, email address and telephone number of the main point of contact between Innovate UK and the project.
Shanghai municipality (lead) organisation name and application reference Enter the full registered name of the (lead) organisation for the project. Please also include the Shanghai application reference.

6.1 Summary of proposed project (not scored)


Please provide a short summary of the content and objectives of the project including what is innovative about it.

This summary is not scored, but provides an introduction to your proposal for the benefit of Innovate UK staff and assessors only. It will not be used for any public dissemination. It should cover, in brief:

  • need or challenge: the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity to be targeted
  • approach and innovation: the approach to be taken and how this will improve on current state-of-the-art
  • outcomes: the difference the project will make to the competitiveness and productivity of the partners involved

6.2 Public description of the project (not scored)


To comply with government practice on openness and transparency of public-funded activities, Innovate UK has to publish information relating to funded projects. Please provide a short description of your proposal in a way that will be understandable to the general public. Do not include any commercially confidential information, for example intellectual property or patent details.

Describe your project. Funding will not be provided to successful projects without this.

6.3 Gateway question: Scope


How does this application align with the specific competition scope?

  • all applications must align with the specific competition scope criteria as described in the relevant competition brief
  • to demonstrate alignment, you need to show that a clear majority of the project’s objectives and activities are aligned with the specific competition

7. Competition questions

All questions apply to all project partners and are scored out of 10 marks.

7.1 Question 1: Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

  • describe the main motivation for the project; the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • describe the nearest current state-of-the-art (including those near-market/in development) and its limitations
  • describe any work you have already done to respond to this need. For example, is the project focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one?
  • identify the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity (for example, incoming regulations). Our Horizons tool can help

7.2 Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

  • explain how you propose to respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • explain how it will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • indicate where the focus of the innovation will be in the project (application of existing technologies in new areas, development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach) and the freedom you have to operate
  • explain how this project fits with your current product/service lines/offerings
  • explain how it will make you more competitive
  • describe the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will take you closer to targeting the need, challenge or opportunity identified

In a separate appendix named ‘AppendixQ2-(application number)’ you can submit in PDF format up to 2 pages to provide a graphic/diagram/image to explain the technology/product/service innovation.

7.3 Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

  • describe the roles, skills and relevant experience of all members of the project team in relation to the approach you will be taking
  • describe the resources, equipment and facilities required for the project and how you will access them
  • provide details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • (if collaborative) describe the current relationships between the project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • highlight any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

In a separate appendix named ‘AppendixQ3-(application number)’ you can submit in PDF format up to 4 pages to describe the skills and experience of the main people who will be working on the project.

7.4 Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

  • specify the markets (domestic and/or international) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • for the target markets, describe:
    • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by appropriate references where available
    • the structure and dynamics of the market (such as customer segmentation), together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
    • the main supply/value chains and business models in operation (and any barriers to entry)
    • the current UK position in targeting this market
  • for highly innovative projects, where the market may be unexplored, explain:
    • what the route to market could or might be
    • what its size might be
    • how the project will seek to explore the market potential
  • for other markets, briefly describe the size and main features of those

7.5 Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How do you propose to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

  • describe your current position in the markets and supply/value chains outlined (will you be extending or establishing your market position?)
  • describe your target customers and/or end-users, and the value proposition to them (why would they use/buy it?)
  • describe your route to market
  • tell us how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • explain how the innovation will impact your productivity and growth (in the short and long-term)
  • describe how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs, changes to business model
  • outline your strategy for targeting the other markets identified during or after the project
  • for any research organisation activity in the project, outline your plans to disseminate project research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • if you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities, describe how

7.6 Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

  • identify, and where possible measure, the economic benefits from the project to those outside the project (customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy) such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • identify, and where possible measure, any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:
    • quality of life
    • social inclusion/exclusion
    • jobs (safeguarded, created, changed, displaced)
    • education
    • public empowerment
    • health and safety
    • regulations
    • diversity
    • any expected impact on government priorities
  • identify, and where possible measure, any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • identify any expected regional impacts of the project

7.7 Question 7: Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

  • outline the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category and lead partner assigned to each, and the total cost of each one
  • describe your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure a successful project outcome. Highlight your approach to managing the most innovative aspects of the project
  • outline the management reporting lines
  • outline your project plan in sufficient detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

In a separate appendix named ’AppendixQ7-(application number)’ you can submit a project plan/Gantt chart up to 2 A4 pages in length in PDF.

7.8 Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

  • identify the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, highlighting the most significant ones (providing a risk register if appropriate)
  • explain how these risks will be mitigated
  • list any project inputs on the critical path to completion (such as resources, expertise, data sets)
  • is the output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification or ethical issues. If so how will you manage this?

In a separate appendix named ’AppendixQ8-(application number)’ you can submit a risk register of up to 2 A4 pages in length in PDF.

7.9 Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

  • tell us if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make (such as faster to market, more partners, reduced risk)
  • describe the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • tell us why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding (what would happen if the application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake (and related spend)

7.10 Question 10: Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

  • justify the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • explain how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • explain how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer. How does it compare to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • justify the balance of costs and grant across the project partners both in the UK and Shanghai municipality
  • justify any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

7.11 Other funding from public sector bodies

If you have included one or more entries in column 7 of the finance summary table (on the following page), please provide:

  • the names of the bodies
  • the name of the programme or scheme from which the funds are provided
  • the fund amounts

8. Finance summary

This table lists the total eligible project costs by organisation. Please note that only certain project costs are eligible for grant funding under UK State Aid rules. See our project costs guidance for information on eligible project costs and how to complete the project finance form .

Column 1
Organisation name
Provide the full names of the lead organisation, followed by any other organisations in the project consortium (organisation names as noted in Companies House)
Column 2
Organisation registration number
Organisations should provide the Company Registration Number (as noted in Companies House). Universities/HEIs should enter their RC number/charitable status/legal entity registration number etc.
Column 3
Enterprise category
Select your enterprise category. SME definition is based on the EU definition
Medium sized: Headcount less than 250: Turnover less than 50 million euros or balance sheet total less than 43 million euros
Small: Headcount less than 50: Turnover less than 10 million euros or balance sheet total less than 10 million euros
Micro: Headcount less than 10: Turnover less than 2 million euros or balance sheet total less than 2 million euros
Column 4
Postcode where the majority of work will be done
Provide the postcode where the majority of work will take place for each organisation participating in the project.
Column 5
Contribution to the project by each UK organisation (£)
List the total contribution to be made to the project by each UK organisation. Where a university is claiming grant funding, the contribution should be £0.
Column 6
Funding sought from Innovate UK
Enter the funding sought from Innovate UK for each contributing UK organisation for this competition.
Column 7
Other funding from public sector bodies
Include any funding applied for separately for the project from any other public sector bodies and not as part of this competition. Funding from other public sector bodies might include other applications to research councils, other government departments, devolved administrations, other public sector organisations and some charities. The purpose of this column is to provide Innovate UK with information on the total public funding for the project.
Column 8
Total (£)
The total cost of the project for each contributor. This is the sum of columns 5, 6 and 7 and will be entered automatically.
Bottom row
Total (£)
The total of each column will be entered automatically.

Please ensure that you click out of each cell after entering your figures.

9. Finance form

Each non-academic organisation in your project must provide a project finance form using the template project finance form which is available on the FTP site. This must be submitted in Excel format with the application form by the lead applicant. Each finance form provides a detailed breakdown on each organisation’s total eligible project costs. Please ensure that all total figures listed in your finance summary table match those stated in the ‘Form status’ tab within the project finance form.

10. Project appendices

You can only include appendices in support of questions 2, 3, 7 and 8 as described in the guidance for those questions. Submission of any additional appendices or documentation not described in this document will result in your application be judged as ineligible and not sent for assessment. Applications submitted with incorrect appendices, with regard to content or naming convention, will be ineligible and not sent for assessment.

In order that assessors can open and read the appendices, each appendix must:

  • conform to the maximum length specifications stated for each question
  • be submitted in PDF
  • be legible at 100% zoom/magnification
  • display prominently the ‘application number’ as in the filename of the application form, for example, ‘AppendixQ2-(application number)’

Please do not submit appendices longer than the specified lengths. Assessors are instructed to only read appendices to the lengths specified in the guidance.