Guidance

ATI Programme Strategic Batches: what funding you can get and how to apply

An overview of the ATI Programme, a £3.9 billion joint government and industry investment.

Overview of the ATI Programme

The ATI Programme is a £3.9 billion joint government and industry investment. Its purpose is to offer funding for research and technology development in the UK, to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace.

This programme is co-ordinated and managed by:

  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Innovate UK
  • Aerospace Technology Institute

All three organisations work in collaboration. Together they deliver a portfolio of projects to meet the objectives and priorities of the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy

The roles of the three stakeholder organisations:

BEIS is accountable for the programme budget and decides which projects will be funded with government resources. BEIS carries out a value for money and policy evaluation on each eligible application.

Innovate UK fulfils the role of delivery and contracting authority. Innovate UK provides independent evaluation of submissions, monitors live projects, and distributes the grant funding.

The Aerospace Technology Institute creates the technology strategy for the UK aerospace sector. The Aerospace Technology Institute reviews applications for strategic alignment and owns the Expression of Interest stage of the strategic batches’ competitions.

ATI Programme: Strategic Batches

The ATI Programme: Strategic Batches is a two-phase competition.
The monthly Expression of Interest (EoI) is stage 1, which is assessed by the Aerospace Technology Institute.

Only successful applicants from EoI will be invited to apply for the quarterly full stage strands which are assessed by both the Aerospace Technology Institute, Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The two strands in stage 2 are:

  • capital infrastructure projects
  • research projects

If you are successful at full stage your application will progress to a final approval through BEIS. Contracts will be issued by Innovate UK.

Information on how to apply, the assessment process and feedback is set out below. It is strongly recommended that you read this before beginning your application.

Research categories

The ATI Programme: Strategic Batches will fund industrial research (as defined in the categories of research and development section of the Innovate UK general guidance) or capital infrastructure projects only.

Before you start an application

General eligibility guidance

Please note eligibility guidance in any current competition takes precedence over guidance here, for the purposes of entering that competition.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK based business of any size for research projects
  • be a UK based business of any size, a research and technology organisation (RTO) or academic organisation for capital investment projects
  • carry out your aerospace research or technology development project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • address the specific requirements of the UK Aerospace Technology Institute technology strategy

You must sign up to the Aerospace Technology Institute framework agreement before submitting an application. The Framework Agreement provides clarity for organisations dealing with the Aerospace Technology Institute, about how their information with be used and treated confidentially. The Framework Agreement also covers the industrial contributions organisations must pay to the institute during ATI Programme grant funded projects.

The programme does not fund projects that:

  • do not have a primary exploitation in the civil aerospace sector
  • are defined as technical feasibility studies or fundamental research

We recognise that technologies can be exploited in multiple sectors, however, to be fundable, the primary exploitation route or application has to be in civil aerospace.

Help from the Aerospace Technology Institute before you submit your EoI

Before submitting your application, you can engage with the Aerospace Technology Institute to support the development of the EOI. Your project will be assigned a project lead from the Aerospace Technology Institute technology team to monitor the progress of the application and provide development feedback, where appropriate. It is entirely optional whether you decide to use this service and does not guarantee success at this stage.

Meetings with the Aerospace Technology Institute will provide an opportunity to discuss the key requirements of the EOI application and give feedback on any parts of the project which require further development. At no point will the Aerospace Technology Institute project lead give a preliminary indication of project evaluation against the assessment criteria. At all times the responsibility for the application and its completion rests with the lead applicant and its partners.

The Aerospace Technology Institute can only provide development feedback on completed draft EOI applications, and within a reasonable timeframe. If you are not already in contact with the Aerospace Technology Institute draft applications should be sent to info@ati.org.uk. The Aerospace Technology Institute will be able to provide development feedback up to 2 weeks before the competition closing date; after this date the Aerospace Technology Institute cannot guarantee any feedback will be provided.

How to apply for a competition via the Innovation Funding Service

The Innovation Funding Service (IFS) is an online application process. You need to create an account in the service to start an application, or sign into your existing account.

Applications are separated into sections, which all need to be completed to submit your application. You cannot submit an application unless you have correctly completed each section.

Please note that once you submit your application, the process cannot be reversed.

Collaborating in the Innovation Funding Service

Many Innovate UK competitions require organisations to work with others on collaborative research and development projects.

The collaboration rules are stated in the eligibility section of the guidance for each funding opportunity. This section outlines the different roles of organisations who intend to work collaboratively in completing an application and setting up a project on the service.

Lead applicants

The lead applicant represents the lead organisation for the application. As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • starting an application
  • adding people from your organisation to the application and removing them
  • adding partner organisations, you wish to collaborate with, where applicable, and removing them
  • assigning questions
  • answering questions relevant to you
  • submitting the application before the deadline
  • accepting the terms and conditions on behalf of your organisation
  • uploading permitted appendices

You should only add people who are directly involved in the project. If your project wants to change who is leading the application, the new person will need to start a new application and the proposal would have to be restarted as an EOI.

Partner organisations

Partner organisations are invited to join an application by the lead applicant. They will receive an email invitation from the Innovation Funding Service and will need to accept the invitation and create an account, or sign into an existing account.

As a partner you are responsible for:

  • completing project costs and finance details for your organisation
  • inviting other people from your organisation to help with the application
  • answering questions assigned to you by the lead applicant
  • accepting the terms and conditions for your organisation

Partners can see:

  • all application questions and answers
  • their own organisation’s finance details
  • the application finance summary

Neither the lead applicant nor partners can view the financial details of any of the other organisations involved in the application. They can only view their own.

Partners are not able to:

  • start an application
  • invite people from other organisations
  • assign questions
  • submit the application

Please note, we will share information with other authorised parties in order to deliver our public tasks and functions. This includes our close network of affinity partners with an interest in research or dual use technology. Further information beyond delivery of our public tasks and functions will be subject to prior agreement with the applicant.

General subsidy control guidance

Please note, subsidy guidance in any current competition takes precedence over guidance here, for the purposes of entering that competition.

This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

European Commission State aid

You must apply under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is conducting activities that will affect trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

In certain limited circumstances, the European Commission State aid rules may also apply if you are an organisation located in England, Wales, or Scotland and conduct activities that affect the trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. For further information, please see section 7 of the BEIS technical guidance.

For further information see our general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

For applicants subject to the European Commission State aid rules, applicants will be required to prove that they were not an “Undertaking in Difficulty” on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. We will ask for evidence of this.

Further information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, please take independent legal advice.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom. This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

How to apply to the EoI competition

You can search for all funding opportunities through the Innovation Funding Service. Follow the guidance on IFS.

Detailed guidance is provided for each question. It is important to read this and ensure you stick to the word limit and appendix guidance.

Individual sections can be allocated to partner organisations or individuals for completion where required by the lead applicant.

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Project details
  • Application team
  • Application details
  • Research category
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion
  • Project summary
  • Scope
  1. Application questions
  • Business opportunity
  • Exploitation and dissemination
  • Technical approach and management
  • Innovation
  • Skills, experience and facilities
  • Adding value
  • Finances
  • Project partners location (not scored)

Additional information including graphical information or diagrams can be submitted in the relevant IFS section as an appendix. Read the IFS question guidance for the eligible page limit. Pages exceeding this limit will not be assessed.

Evaluation of EoI

The Aerospace Technology Institute will conduct a strategic assessment of your EOI. This assessment will consider:

  1. The EOI’s alignment to the UK Aerospace technology strategy.
  2. The fit of your proposed technology with your understanding of relevant existing activity.
  3. The capability of project partners and adherence to the eligibility criteria, including funding rules of the competition.

The evaluation has 3 stages:

  1. Eligibility
  2. Opportunity
  3. Quality

You must pass each stage of evaluation in order to progress to the next stage.

Stage 1: Eligibility

The Aerospace Technology Institute will look at whether your proposal is within the funding rules of the programme.

If your proposal does not pass the eligibility evaluation it will be made ineligible and you will be told why. If your proposal is ineligible your application will not be sent for evaluation and you will not receive feedback on your answers to the application questions.

Stage 2: Opportunity

The opportunity evaluation considers the following criteria:

  • Technology Themes – The extent to which the proposed technologies and capabilities align with the Strategic Technology agenda, value steams and enablers
  • Business and Market Opportunity – The strength and validity of the business need, with a clear and compelling alignment to aerospace market opportunities.

If your project does not pass the opportunity evaluation you will be told why. You can request detailed feedback on the opportunity evaluation criteria by emailing info@ati.org. You will not receive feedback on your answers to the application questions. The application questions are not scored if an application does not pass the opportunity evaluation.

Stage 3: Quality

The quality evaluation uses the following criteria to assess your answers to the application questions:

  1. exploitation, dissemination, and economic impact
  2. technical approach and measures of success
  3. partnership(s) (if applicable)
  4. technology ambition
  5. adding value, what will happen to the project activity in the absence of funding through this mechanism?

If your proposal meets the opportunity requirement of the competition, the Aerospace Technology Institute will score each of the application questions and provide feedback against each. If successful, you will be invited to develop a Full Stage Application (FSA).

EoI Feedback

Notification of the success of your application and feedback will be provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute via an email to the application lead. You will also receive a notification through IFS of the success of your application only. No feedback or scoring will be provided through IFS.

If you are successful at the EoI stage, you will be invited to apply to the next full stage competition. If the full stage competition is already open for applications, you will be eligible to defer entry to the next full stage round.

To defer entry, contact Innovate UK to confirm you would like to defer entry to the next full stage batch. You must apply to one of the next two full stage competitions, or you will need to reapply to the EOI stage.

How to apply to the full stage competition

If you are invited to apply to the full stage competition Innovate UK will send you a link to the full stage competition in an email.

Your full stage competition invitation will be for one of two strands: industry led research projects or capital infrastructure projects . You must complete the application on the Innovation Funding Service (IFS).

Follow the guidance on IFS to complete the application.

Help from BEIS for full stage

You can contact BEIS at info@ati.org to:

  • establish what information you need to provide
  • request feedback on draft value for money returns

BEIS will prioritise requests for feedback based on date received by them. Applicants are therefore advised to contact BEIS as early as possible, and not later than two weeks before competition close.

BEIS cannot guarantee that it will respond to all requests for feedback.

At no point will BEIS give a preliminary indication of project evaluation against assessment criteria.

Other help

Detailed guidance is provided for each question. It is important to read this and ensure you stick to the word limit and appendix guidance.

Individual sections can be allocated to partner organisations or individuals for completion where required by the lead applicant.

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details
  • Application team
  • Application details
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion
  • Research category
  • Project summary
  • Public description
  • Scope

2.Application questions

  • Business opportunity
  • Market
  • Results (including exploitation plan)
  • Benefits (including a Value for Money spreadsheet to be assessed by BEIS)
  • Technical approach
  • Innovation
  • Risks
  • Team and facilities
  • Costs
  • Added value to the UK 19. Project partners location (not scored)
  1. Finances
  • Your finances
  • Finances overview

Additional information including graphical information or diagrams can be submitted in the relevant IFS section as an appendix. Read the IFS question guidance for the eligible page limit. Pages exceeding this limit will not be assessed.

Evaluation of the full stage competition

Applications for the ATI Programme are assessed by the 3 partner organisations in parallel:

  • BEIS
  • Aerospace Technology Institute
  • Innovate UK

These assessments are reviewed by the Strategic Review Committee (SRC). The SRC meets 4 times per calendar year to review applications.

BEIS Full Stage evaluation

BEIS is accountable for the Programme Budget and decides which projects will be funded with government resources.

BEIS carries out a value for money and policy evaluation on each eligible application.

The value for money evaluation considers whether the benefits of the project, including jobs benefits and spill over benefits from R&D activity, are enough to justify the cost to the taxpayer. The value for money evaluation is based on the answers to the questions in the application form.

The value for money workbook should be downloaded from the relevant question in the application form. You must complete the form in full and upload as part of your application.

Failure to submit a value for money return will make your application ineligible. Detailed guidance on how to complete each section is provided in the value for money template. It is important to read this and ensure you provide as much information as possible.

Following submission, you may be contacted by BEIS and the Aerospace technology Institute who will ask you to clarify or submit additional information if an error or omission appears to have been made. This is to ensure a thorough and fair evaluation.

The policy evaluation is based on all the information submitted as part of your application and evaluates the proposals fit with wider policy priorities.

Aerospace Technology Institute Full Stage Evaluation

As with the EOI stage, the Aerospace Technology Institute will conduct a Strategic Evaluation of your full stage application based upon its alignment to the [UK Aerospace Technology Strategy]https://www.ati.org.uk/strategy/strategy-overview/), fit with existing activity, the capability of project partners and adherence to the eligibility criteria, of the competition.

The Aerospace Technology Institute evaluation is based on the answers to the ten questions in the application form and all the attached appendices.

The evaluation will consider the following criteria:

  • Market value – this includes the strength and validity of the business need and market opportunity; and the extent to which the delivery of this project provides UK competitive advantage
  • Market risk – this includes the level of market risk involved in delivering the stated economic value and the level of commitment to the exploitation within the UK
  • Technology value – this includes alignment with the UK Aerospace Technology Strategy, the credibility and viability of the approach and an evaluation of the potential to deliver innovation
  • Technology risk – this includes the match of technical capabilities and skills of the consortium and the strength of the management structures and procedures, including project, technical, risk and innovation management

Innovate UK Independent Assessment

The Innovate UK evaluation is based on the answers to the questions in the application form and all the attached appendices.

Applications are assessed by up to 5 independent assessors. The assessors can be from both business and academia.

Applications in a competition are assessed against the same set of scoring criteria. Assessors will provide written feedback for each scored question in the application. All applications are assessed on individual merit.

If your project grant request is:

  • £5 million or more, you will be invited to attend an interview
  • below £5 million, we reserve the right to invite you to attend an interview without providing a reason

If invited, you must give a presentation at the interview.

Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you must send:

  • a list of who will attend the interview
  • your final interview presentation slides

After your presentation, the panel will spend time asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on your application and the Innovate UK independent assessor feedback from the written stage.

The Innovate UK funder’s panel makes the final decision regarding Innovate UK recommendations for this Programme.

Strategic Review Committee (SRC)

The Strategic Review Committee (SRC) meets quarterly to review the funding recommendations from the three Full Stage Evaluations.

Each organisation (BEIS, Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK) brings their recommendations for funding based on their reviews of the applications. To proceed to the next stage projects must receive a positive recommendation from all three organisations.

There are two possible outcomes:

  1. The project is recommended to proceed to the next stage of contracting. This might be subject to meeting further conditions, including affordability.
  2. The project is not recommended to proceed to the next stage of contracting.

BEIS is responsible for making the final decision whether or not to fund your proposal.

Full Stage Feedback

You will receive an email notification from BEIS within 5 working days of the SRC meeting. This email includes feedback from BEIS, the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK interview, if you were invited to interview. The Innovate UK independent assessor feedback for your written application will be accessible from the Innovation Funding Service dashboard.

If your project is recommended for funding, the email from BEIS will also include any additional conditions which need to be met before BEIS seek approval from Ministers. You may also be asked to arrange a meeting with BEIS and the Aerospace Technology Institute to discuss the benefits the project will deliver to the UK. Following this you will be asked to submit a letter to BEIS confirming the benefits. This will need to be agreed with BEIS before the grant offer letter is issued.

If you are unsuccessful at this stage, you will be invited to set up a meeting with the programme partners to discuss your feedback. Please note the feedback from the Innovate UK independent assessors on your written application is not available to the Aerospace Technology or BEIS. If you wish to discuss it with these organisations you will need to share it in advance of your meeting.

Final approvals and contracting

BEIS approval

Following the SRC, BEIS will seek ministerial approval for projects that have been recommended for funding. If the total grant value exceeds £20 million, approval will also be sought from HM Treasury.

What you must do prior to contract

Sign into your Innovation Funding Service dashboard which will provide full details under Set up your project. Complete the Project details and Project team sections within 30 days.

The offer of funding is conditional and subject to the satisfactory completion of a finance and due diligence review by Innovate UK, project document approval by your Innovate UK assigned Monitoring Officer (MO) and Ministerial approval.

Finance checks will start once written approval has been received by Innovate UK from BEIS that Ministerial approval has been received.

From this point you have 90 days to complete the rest of the project set up steps.

Innovate UK will pose all queries to you via your IFS dashboard which will notify the appropriate finance or project contact by email. Please ensure these are addressed by yourself and any collaborators in a timely manner. Once all queries are resolved the lead will be able to upload a spend profile which should be in project quarters and reflect agreed eligible costs per quarter.

To allow your project to start promptly, please ensure that your exploitation plan, collaboration agreement and second level plan are submitted via your dashboard as early as possible. You must also ensure all partners have signed the Aerospace Technology Institute Framework Agreement and you have submitted a value for money letter to BEIS, if required.

Upon satisfactory completion of all the above, Innovate UK will issue your Grant Offer Letter (GOL) which must be signed by each partner, uploaded to IFS and approved before your project is able to start.

Project pre-contract checks process

Before your project can begin Innovate UK will need additional details and documents from you. Submitting documents in a timely fashion will speed up the pre-contract checks and contracting process.

Pre-contracting documents checklist

We recommend you start to consider the collaboration agreement early in the process to allow sufficient time to agree.

Please refer to the quick checklist below to see what you will need to complete before contracting. These documents can be submitted to the appropriate party before finance checks begin.

Publicising your project

Your notification email from BEIS provides the ATI Programme Communication Guidance, which includes contact details for the ATI Programme Communications Group and requirements on when you can publicise ATI Programme funding of your project.

Please note that publicising projects is not permitted before the GOL is signed and returned unless agreed with BEIS. This embargo may be in place for up to a few weeks after you have successfully completed project set up.

The Lead Partner is responsible for ensuring that all members of the consortium and their press offices comply with this restriction.

The ATI Programme Communications Group will contact you when the embargo is lifted.

Innovate UK frequently publicises the results of competitions and applications on their website soon after a project is contracted. The public description you provided of your project will be used for publicity purposes without further consultation with you, and by accepting this funding, you agree to these terms.

Innovate UK in-project monitoring

Monitoring officer

You will be assigned a monitoring officer who will work with you throughout the project. They will help to make sure your project complies with the terms and conditions of the competition. They are not responsible for project management. The outputs of quarterly monitoring reports will be shared with BEIS and the Aerospace Technology Institute.

Claims and auditing

Costs are only eligible if they are incurred and paid between the project start and end dates. Claims may be subject to an independent audit. You must submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. All participants must provide evidence to support each claim made.

Post project monitoring

Innovate UK

At project close out all participants in a project are required to complete the Innovate UK close out form. In addition, there may be periodic reviews and requests to participate in case studies.

BEIS

At project close out all participants in a project are required to complete the BEIS Economic Monitoring close out form.

BEIS are developing a post-project monitoring framework to ensure the Programme is delivering on its objectives. Following project close out and for up to 10 years, BEIS will likely make periodic requests for data linked to project exploitation plans and the information provided through the value for money evaluation.

Aerospace Technology Institute

The Aerospace Technology Institute may participate in project close out reviews to assess strategic impact. The Aerospace Technology Institute will also require case studies to be prepared for completed projects.

Contact us

A variety of help is available to competition applicants.

Innovate UK

Contact Innovate UK for queries relating to eligibility criteria or IFS.

Call 0300 321 4357 to speak to an adviser. Our phone lines are now open from 9am to 11.30am and 2pm to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), to help us manage the unusually high number of calls and emails we are receiving due to the global disruptions.

Calls are free from landlines and most mobile numbers. Find out more about call charges and freephone numbers (opens in a new window).

Send your question or query to support@innovateuk.ukri.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Innovate UK complaints procedure.

Aerospace Technology Institute

Contact the Aerospace Technology Institute for queries relating to the strategic and technical suitability of your application.

You can contact the Aerospace Technology Institute to arrange a meeting with BEIS to discuss the information needed for the value for money evaluation.

If you disagree with any of the evaluation of the Aerospace Technology Institute you can submit a complaint.

Aerospace Technology Institute complaints procedure.

BEIS

For queries relating to the value for money and policy evaluation or to request a meeting with BEIS contact the Aerospace Technology Institute via info@ati.org.

Supporting documents

ATI Project Plan Template (ODT, 18.2KB)

ATI Exploitation Plan Template (ODT, 16.9KB)

ATI Value for money workbook (ODS, 61.8KB)

Published 12 March 2021