Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The UK funding landscape is evolving. In 2017, the Government announced the Industrial Strategy – a £4.7 billion boost for UK science and business over the next 4 years.

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The Industrial Strategy Challenge Funds (ISCF) will invest in the UK’s world-leading research base and innovative businesses, increasing productivity and addressing major industrial and societal challenges of today.

To structure the vision of this massive funding boost for research and development, the Government asked Industry where the investment focus should be.

Four Grand Challenges have been defined:

AI and data-driven economy
Clean Growth
Future of Mobility
Ageing Society

Within those 4 challenges, key areas are targeted:

  • Transforming Construction
  • Energy Revolution
  • Precision Medicine
  • Transforming Food Production
  • Robotics and AI
  • Healthy Ageing
  • Quantum Technologies

An inclusive approach is seeing funding streams open to the Creative and Service Industries via the ‘Audience of the Future’ and ‘Next Generation Services’challenges. For the first time, businesses and organisations in music, film, the performing arts, museums, accountancy and insurance are directly encouraged to team up with companies in Immersive Technologies, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to apply for funding.

Other specialist funding streams look to stimulate UK regions or clusters, such as ‘Creating a network of digital pathology, imaging and AI centres’ or ‘UK Research and Innovation strength in places fund’.

Overall, the funding is being released in Waves; Wave 1 competitions have been live since 2017; Wave 2 is now being successfully launched with Wave 3 to come. Competitions are being published for early-stage (design and concept), collaborative R&D, demonstrators and national research hubs/infrastructure.

As you can see, this is new and exciting times for UK innovation grants. This also brings with it the complexity of navigating new territory and grant writing in very tight timeframes. Call us to see how we can help you boost your chances of ISCF success.

Future of Mobility

In the near future, new mobility services will include increased autonomy, journey sharing, mobility-as-a-service and a blurring of lines between private and public transport. ISCF funding encourages use of data to accelerate development of new mobility services, enabling the more effective operation of our transport system. There will also be continued investment for R&D and testbed infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Transforming Construction

How we create our buildings has not changed substantially in 40 years and needs a drastic overhaul to deliver the buildings that the UK needs. Construction is currently expensive, often coming in over budget or delayed, and delivers and too many buildings waste energy. We need to transform construction to create affordable places to live and work that are safer, healthier and use less energy. Taking the lead in the UK can increase our ability to export. Global demand for efficient buildings is rising rapidly, driven by the pressures of urbanisation, affordability, and the need to cut emissions.

Clean Energy and Energy Revolution

Global markets for clean and efficient industrial fuels, processes and materials are growing rapidly. ISCF will invest £162m in innovation for low carbon industry and develop a new strategy for the bio-economy. Working with industry, there will be further market investment in clean and efficient technologies and processes, including through all manufacturing Sector Deals and through developing a new scheme to support investment in industrial energy efficiency.

The launch of a new Industrial Strategy ‘Prospering from the energy revolution’ programme aims to develop world-leading local smart energy systems that deliver cheaper and cleaner energy across power, heating and transport while creating high-value jobs and export capabilities.

Countries all over the world are moving to renewable energy, with investment more than doubling over the last decade. But for most of our energy to be clean and affordable, we need much more intelligent systems. Smart systems can link energy supply, storage and use, and join up power, heating and transport to increase efficiency dramatically.

Precision Medicine

The Government recognises the need to invest and explore the application of data for better, more innovative health and care. For example, there are diseases that take many years to develop before presenting symptoms. Developing effective treatments – such as for pancreatic cancer, which develops on average 14 years before symptoms present – becomes progressively harder. The challenge is combining UK researchers’ data with real-world evidence from our health service. This will allow industry to create new products and services that will diagnose diseases earlier and help clinicians choose the best treatment for individual patients. Enabling innovation in this area will save lives, putting the UK at the forefront of a huge global diagnostics market.

Transforming Food Production

It is estimated that to feed 9 billion people, the world will need 60 per cent more food by 2050, while demand for water is expected to rise by 20 per cent in the agriculture sector alone. Therefore, how we produce our food needs to be significantly more efficient and sustainable. Precision technologies can make that a reality, transforming food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion. The UK is at the forefront of the global move to higher efficiency and more sustainable agriculture. Increasing investment in sustainable agriculture will help to grow the markets for innovative technologies and techniques. The UK will be at the forefront of this global revolution in farming, delivering benefits from farm to fork; to farmers, the environment and consumers whilst driving growth, jobs and exports.

Healthy Ageing

By 2040, one in eight people will be aged over 75 in the UK, increasing from one in 12 today. As the number of older people increases in society, remaining active, productive and independent is vitally important. The challenge is to innovate to improve well-being and more effective care supporting independent lifestyles as people age. By working together, the government and industry can address the challenges of ageing whilst capturing a growing global market.

Audience of the Future

Immersive technologies are changing how we interact with our environment and the world surrounding us. Virtual, augmented and mixed reality (VR, AR and MR) are on the verge of revolutionising our experiences in retail, the arts, culture, sport, entertainment and education. The challenge is bringing design and creative businesses together with researchers and tech to create new and accessible immersive experiences. There is a huge variety of next-generation of products, services and experiences where the UK can become a world leader in immersive technologies.

Quantum Technologies

Quantum technology is currently largely lab-based. The Government recognises that the next generation of products, from medical devices to sensors or safer communication systems, may come from using the emerging physical science known as quantum technology. This Pioneer funding will bring new disruptive businesses together with existing businesses to understand how this emerging technology can be turned into products that will underpin the future industry. Support will be released in phases, starting with funding for developing 3-5 prototype quantum-enabled devices that could be used in future sensors, consumer electronics and digital services.

Next Generation Services

We are already seeing Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies starting to transform the global economy across many sectors. Using vast datasets and clever analytics to enable new insights and value creation from existing data will help to boost every sector. From helping doctors to diagnose medical conditions to giving insurance companies better predictions around flooding areas, embedding AI across the UK will create thousands of highly skilled jobs and drive.