Research and Innovation Organisations Infrastructure Fund: guidance for research and innovation organisations in the UK

Updated 5 December 2023

The Research and Innovation Organisations Infrastructure Fund provides grants to research & innovation organisations to improve the organisation’s national capabilities. This guidance is to help applicants understand the application process.  

Last updated: 28 November 2023

1. Introduction 

1.1. This Guidance is provided by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to help applicants understand the Research and Innovation Organisations (RIO) Infrastructure Fund (IF). 

1.2. Applicants should visit the scheme application page for any updates regarding the RIO IF and for how to apply for the grant. 


1.3. The RIO IF is a proposed competition to award c. £25 million across financial year 2023 to 2024 to independent research and innovation bodies in the UK for new small and medium scale research equipment, small and medium scale equipment upgrades, or small and medium scale facility upgrades.  

1.4. This follows on from a pilot competition in financial year 2022 to 2023 that awarded £31 million to Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs). The RIO IF expands the scope beyond PSREs to a wider and more diverse range of bodies (see Section 4.2.2) that provide unique national capabilities. DSIT expects that this fund will help to address market failures in the funding landscape identified by the Landscape and Capability Reviews, therefore improving the R&I infrastructures available to RIOs, improving the quality of the national capabilities they provide and enabling them to better serve their users and the UK. 

Indicative scheme timescales 

Event Date
Competition ‘go live’ 27 November 2023
Competition closes to new applications 31 December 2023
Final date for competition winners to be notified 19 January 2024

1.5. Any changes to these timescales will be announced on the scheme application page

2.1.1. The RIO IF is underpinned by DSIT’s power to issue grants to fund HMG policy in line with s5 of the Science and Technology Act (STA) 1965.  

2.2 Subsidy control considerations 

2.2.1. For the subsidy control rules to be engaged, various tests must be met one of which is that support from a public authority must be given to an economic actor, which means, a person or company placing goods or services on a market. 

2.2.2. RIO IF is intended to be delivered to research and innovation organisations across the UK through DSIT. Should the organisation carry out both economic and non-economic activities, then the economic activity must comprise no more than 20% of the overall activities of the organisation, and the grant will only be used to fund non-economic activity. No businesses will be involved in either delivering or receiving this support.  

2.2.3. DSIT does not consider there to be subsidy control issues for RIO IF

2.3 Data sharing and data privacy 

2.3.1. DSIT and contractors will share personal and non-personal data in the form of reporting data, only where necessary for the purpose of enabling monitoring and evaluation of the fund, to help make the case for further waves, and to ensure compliance with grant agreements. This data sharing will be governed by a Data Sharing Agreement between DSIT and its contractors.  

2.3.2. As part of the competition process, DSIT will share personal and non-personal data with any external panellists (see Section 5.3.3) for them to assess the bids. This data sharing will be governed by a Data Sharing Agreement between DSIT and its external panellists. 

2.3.3. The RIO IF data privacy notice can be downloaded from the scheme application page. It sets out how DSIT will use the personal data collected from applicants, contracted organisations and the rights of applicants. It is made under Articles 13 and 14 of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). 

2.3.4. Applicants are advised that they may be contacted for research purposes, and that their data will be shared with DSIT and appointed DSIT contractors for counter fraud, research and evaluation purposes. Their details will be held in a secure data system and they will not be contacted by any other third parties as a result. All research is voluntary and is not linked to the outcome of their application. They may withdraw their consent at any time if they change their mind. All contact details will be securely deleted from contractors’ systems after 2 years. 

3. Communicating the scheme 

3.1. Anyone participating in or publicising the competition, as appropriate and practical, should reference that the grant is funded by HM Government in any publicity material, including online channels and media releases.  

3.2. It is important to keep messaging consistent across the scheme. Anyone referencing the scheme should refer to the scheme as “Research & Innovation Organisations Infrastructure Funding”, abbreviated as “RIO IF”. 

3.3. As a courtesy, DSIT should be informed of any announcements that any successful grant recipients would like to make about the scheme at any point in time. 

4. Eligibility criteria 

4.1  General principles 

4.1.1. The primary principle of the RIO IF scheme is to award a grant to a successful bidder to purchase small to medium research equipment or facility upgrades to fill a market gap in the R&I funding ecosystem. 

4.1.2. If there is any doubt on any of the eligibility criteria listed below, please reach out to the DSIT team at for any further clarifications. 

4.2 Eligible organisations 

4.2.1. RIOs provide a unique national capability in their area of expertise, and may undertake both economic and non-economic activities:

  • economic activities: These include commercial services or partnerships with developing businesses
  • non-economic activities: Scientific research carried out by a non-profit research organisation will often be carried out as a non-economic activity, and therefore may receive financial assistance without it constituting a subsidy. Knowledge transfer activities by research organisations are generally non-economic activities where any profits from these activities are reinvested in the research organisation.   

4.2.2. To be eligible for RIO IF, applicants must meet the following criteria on the date of their application: 

  • the organisation must be a research and innovation not-for-profit organisation (the Royal Society list provides a good reference) based in Great Britain and Northern Ireland 
  • the organisation is not eligible for, or is already receiving non open call UKRI’s World Class Labs funding 
  • the organisation will have no more than 20% of their activities apportioned to economic activities 
  • the organisation is not a business premises, higher education premises or other form of non-research and innovation premises

4.2.3. These criteria apply to the organisation that is applying and receiving payment. If there are any consortia being formed, each organisation in the consortia must also satisfy the eligibility criteria as if they were to apply themselves.  

4.2.4. If there are any questions about the eligibility of an applicant, please contact the team at:  

4.3 Eligible expenditures 

4.3.1. A proposal should be, as far as possible, for a discrete element of equipment. Items that are within scope of being funded in this grant include but are not limited to: 

  • high performance compute 
  • high end laboratory equipment 
  • equipment to help with digitisation of collections 
  • small to medium sized essential facility upgrades 

4.3.2. Evidence must be shown that the items can be ordered by 31st March 2024, i.e. a binding order with a supplier must be placed before 31st March 2024.  

4.3.3. The payment to the supplier can be made after 31st March 2024 as long as items have been ordered by that date. The final payment for the grant must be invoiced before the end of FY24/25.  

4.3.4. The item(s) being funded must not be used for economic activities beyond 20% of its use.  

4.3.5. Items that are outside of scope of being funded in this grant are: 

  • items that are currently being funded by another grant 
  • in kind contributions or staff costs 
  • item running costs 
  • maintenance costs 

4.4 Exclusions to RIO IF 

4.4.1. Due to the availability of funding schemes in scope elsewhere for these organisations, the following groups are excluded from the scheme: 

  • UKRI and UKRI’s institutes  
  • organisations that are eligible to apply for UKRI’s World Class Labs programme 
  • Higher Education Institutes 

5. Application process  

5.1 General principles 

5.1.1. The scheme will be open for applications for 4 weeks, from 27 November to 31 December.  

5.1.2. An application process is required for all applicants for the RIO IF. The application page is accessed on GOV.UK. The page will be used for: 

  • applicants to download an application form 
  • announcing updates to the scheme 

5.1.3. Applicants will not be able to change or add to their application once it has been submitted. 

5.2  Application guidance  

5.2.1. The primary principle of the RIO IF scheme is to award a grant to a successful bidder to purchase small to medium research equipment or facility upgrades to fill a market gap in the R&I funding ecosystem.   

5.2.2. The questions asked in the application form should be answered sufficiently to enable the evaluators to get a sense for the organisation’s business needs. Applicants are encouraged to align their responses to their organisation’s science and technology priorities, along with the following government priorities:  

  • priority technologies
  • international opportunities
  • levelling up
  • sustainability
  • innovation
  • talent and skills

5.2.3. Three of the questions in the application form (B2, B3 and C4) will be scored by each evaluating panel (Section 5.3.3). Three principal areas for evaluation will be considered – case for the investment, alignment with HMG areas of research interests and ability to commit to spend in this financial year. Bids supported by sponsoring departments or external parties will score higher than those without. Bids able to demonstrate simple procurement, single tender actions or sole possible supplier routes will score higher than those with: complex procurements, multiple dependencies that may jeopardise commitment in year, or if bidders cannot commit to spend in financial year 2023 to 2024. The scoring matrix can be downloaded from the grant application webpage.   

5.2.4. All funds must be used for the sole purpose of purchasing small to medium research equipment or facility upgrades. This will need to be a discrete and identifiable asset. 

5.2.5. No single award is likely to be greater than 10% of the available pot (£25 million). However, DSIT reserves the right to award more depending on the amount of the fund committed and the quality of bids.  

5.2.6. Priority will go to investments that are not dependent on other future investments to be completed. This is to ensure that the full value of the investment is realised and that benefits from the investment do not depend on future funding.  

5.2.7. RIOs are welcome to submit multiple applications, listing them in order of priority, but DSIT will not consider further proposals until the initial tranche of highest priority investments has been reviewed, and only if there is funding available following the first priority bid allocation. 

5.2.8. If there are any questions about the application process, please reach out to the team at: Once an application has been submitted to DSIT, it cannot be amended or resubmitted.  

5.3 The role of DSIT 

5.3.1. The application process for this scheme will be administered by DSIT. DSIT is responsible for the scheme policy and design, administering the application process, conducting initial eligibility checks and scheme communications.  

5.3.2. Data may be shared between the organisation and external contractors. The DSIT privacy notice, setting out how DSIT will handle personal data will be published on the application website.  

5.3.3. Once the scheme has closed, DSIT policy leads will do an initial eligibility check. If the application passes this check, then DSIT will evaluate the applications using two panels – a Science Panel comprised of technical experts to assess the scientific merit of the applications, and a DSIT Panel comprised of policy experts to assess how closely the applications meet government priorities. Both panels will score questions B2, C3 and C4 separately and then meet to discuss a final score. The scores will then be ranked and the funding allocated in ranked order until the funding runs out or all bids have received funding. If there is any funding left, then second priority bids will be reviewed, scored and allocated funding in the same way.  

5.3.4. DSIT will run an internal due diligence check on the successful applicants prior to making the final decision. 

5.4 Communicating the application status 

5.4.1. Applicants who are deemed ineligible at the initial eligibility check stage will be informed by DSIT through email as soon as possible.  

5.4.2. Applicants will be informed electronically whether their bid was successful or not. These notifications will be issued centrally by DSIT through email.  

5.5 Appeals, objections and complaints 

5.5.1. Where a complaint is made to DSIT about how a decision is reached, this will be handled through DSIT’s standard complaints procedures and timescales.  

5.5.2. DSIT is ultimately responsible for the overall policy of the scheme, and so any complaint should be referred to DSIT via the contact details at Annex B. 

5.6 Providing the payment 

5.6.1. Successful applicants will receive a Grant Offer Letter and will be required to sign and return a Grant Funding Agreement. The organisation must then order the item by 31 March 2024 and submit a Claim Form along with evidence of the purchase to DSIT in order to receive the agreed payment. Any payments made after 31 March 2025, will not be reimbursed by DSIT

5.6.2. DSIT should seek to ensure that successful applicants receive payments within 30 working days of receiving and verifying the Claim Form.  

5.6.3. The grant must be paid by DSIT by bank transfer to the eligible bank account as submitted by the applicant in the Grant Funding Agreement. Payments must not be made to any other account. 

6. Fraud, error, assurance and debt recovery 

6.1. The government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Applicants found to be providing false information to gain payments will face prosecution and any funding issued will be recovered, as may any payments paid in error.   

6.2. DSIT will run an internal due diligence check on any successful applicants prior to making a final decision to award the grant.  

6.3. Post payment assurance will be carried out by DSIT or a contractor to ensure the effective management of public money.  

6.4. Where assurance checks discover that payments have been made in error, noncompliance, or have been claimed as a result of fraud, initial recovery action will be undertaken following processes outlined in the Grant Funding Agreement document – this can be found on the scheme application webpage.  

7. Monitoring and reporting requirements 

7.1. Data sharing and data privacy information is set out in Section 2.3 of this guidance. 

7.2. DSIT will use competition data to support monitoring, evaluation and assurance of the scheme. This includes providing high-level performance reports including summaries of the number of grants awarded and total amount spent. We do this for a number of different reasons, including: 

  • Accountability – to provide a clear and transparent basis for why this policy has been implemented, and its progress over time 
  • Efficiency – ensuring that we are maximising the value delivered from this public spending and ensuring opportunities for analysis and learning for the future 
  • Effectiveness – ensuring that policy makes a positive impact and understanding the context of when that happens.  

Annex A: Public Sector Equality Duty  

A1. As public bodies local authorities must consider equality in all decisions being made to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010, and publish information to show compliance with the PSED

A2. The aim of the PSED is to have due regard to the need to achieve the objectives set out under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to: 

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010 
  • advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it 
  • foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it 

A3. For the purposes of this scheme DSIT has completed a PSED assessment, a copy of which can be sent out on request.  

Annex B: Contact details  

If you have any queries about the content of this guidance or the operation of the scheme, you can contact DSIT at the RIO IF mailbox: