This document provides answers to a number of frequently asked questions relating to competitions for funding run by the Technology Strategy Board. These will be revised and updated over time in response to queries.

Please note that each Competition is different and has competition specific documentation, including a competition Brief and Guidance for Applicants. It is therefore important for you to ensure you refer to the correct documentation for the Competition you may wish to enter.

The Technology Strategy Board Competition processes are subject to change and there are several different models of competition. Therefore if you have previously entered into a Technology Strategy Board Competition, please do not assume the process and details are the same.

The FAQs are divided into the following areas:

Please note: there are separate product-specific FAQs available for SBRI, other procurement competitions, Smart and European Programmes.

Should you have any questions that are not addressed either in the competition specific documents or these Frequently Asked Questions, please contact the Technology Strategy Board's Business Support Group on 0300 321 4357 or Competitions@innovateuk.org.

General Technology Strategy Board Application Process

1. How do I find out what competitions the Technology Strategy Board are running?

All competition details are held on the competition section of our website http://www.innovateuk.org/competitions.ashx

If you register onto our mailing list via the Technology Strategy Board website http://www.innovateuk.org you will be kept informed of any forthcoming competitions once they are announced.

 We would also advise you to register with the Knowledge Transfer Network in your area of interest who will be able to keep you informed about   any other funding opportunities in the UK for your area of interest.  Further information about KTNs can be found here http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/knowledgetransfernetworks.ashx.

All SBRI competitions, not all of which are run by the Technology Strategy Board, are listed on the SBRI section of the Technology Strategy Board website http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/smallbusinessresearchinitiative/competitions.ashx 

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2.  How do I find out more about a competition?

For each competition, there are two key documents to guide you through your application:

•   Competition Brief - this document will provide key competition information such as the technical summary, background, challenge, scope, research area, funding available, entry requirements, key events and dates. The document can be downloaded from the relevant competition page of the competition website: http://www.innovateuk.org/competitions.ashx

•   Guidance for Applicants - this document provides more details of the competition, including the process for applying and is available, once the competition opens, following registration via the relevant competition page of the competition website http://www.innovateuk.org/competitions.ashx.

For many competitions, the Technology Strategy Board will hold a briefing event once the competition is open, to present the scope of the competition, the application process and eligibility criteria.  Attendees can meet the Technology Strategy Board team in charge of the competition and have the opportunity to ask questions.  Attendance is free to the event, but you are advised to register in advance as spaces are limited.  Registration links are available on the competition website page for each competition.

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3.  How much funding is available for a competition?

Funding varies for each competition.  The Competition Brief and the Guidance for Applicants will state the levels of funding available for each competition.  They will also provide details on the funding available per project/applicant.  

Some competitions will have co-funders in the form of other public sector bodies, in addition to the Technology Strategy Board.  Details of any co-funders for a specific competition are available in the Competition Brief.

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4.  How will I know if I am eligible to apply for a competition?

The eligibility criteria are described in both the Competition Brief and Guidance for Applicants for each competition. Your project will need to meet the criteria for the competition and directly address the scope of the competition if it is to be considered for funding within the competition to which you apply.

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5.  How do I apply to enter a competition?

To apply for a Smart grant click here: https://competitions.innovateuk.org/Security/Login.aspx.  You will be asked to register, but are then able to start working on your application.

For all other competitions, currently a different application system is used. 

Each competition is different and as the lead or sole applicant for the competition, you will need to register to enter the competition.  Registration opens on the day the competition opens and closes exactly one week before the application deadline.  The registration process will ask you for your email address.  You will then be emailed a unique and secure login and password for the competition along with an application form containing your unique application number.  This application form is unique to the competition to which you are applying.

When you receive your login and password, we recommend that you login to the system and change your password to something you can remember.  You will then have access to the Guidance for Applicants for the competition which is referenced throughout these FAQs.

Please note that the application form will need to be completed and uploaded onto the secure site by a set deadline which is documented in the Guidance for Applicants and Competition Brief for the competition.

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6.  Which costs can I include in my application for funding?

The costs included should be all those directly incurred as a result of delivering your project.  A list and description of the main eligible costs that can be included in the total project costs is provided in the Guidance for Applicants.

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7.  Can I enter into more than one competition?

Yes, you may enter more than one competition as long as your proposal complies with the specific technical challenge being addressed and eligibility criteria for each of the competitions you are entering.

If the application is for the same project we would only be able to fund the project in one of the competitions.

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8.  Can I submit applications for more than one project within a competition?

Yes, but you must submit a separate application form for each project. Each application should be distinct and aligned with the competition requirements.   Please contact the Technology Strategy Board helpdesk if you do wish to submit more than one proposal as we will need to send you multiple application forms as each form has a unique number.  Failure to do so will mean that you second proposal overwrites your first proposal.

Should you be successful in gaining the offer of funding for more than one proposal, you will need to evidence that you can sustain your involvement for the full duration of the project life. You may be asked for further information by the Technology Strategy Board to evidence your financial and physical resource capacity to deliver multiple projects.

Please refer to the Smart guidance for rules on submitting multiple Smart applications.

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 9.  How will successful applications be chosen?

The Technology Strategy Board’s funding mechanisms are a competitive application process. Independent assessors with relevant sector expertise, knowledge and experience in the relevant technology areas are appointed by the Technology Strategy Board for each competition. Each application is assessed by up to five assessors from both business and academia. The assessors will score proposals against the answers to the questions provided in your submitted application form. The guidance for applicants gives details on what information assessors look for against each question along with further details of the assessment process.

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  1. If my application is unsuccessful can I re-submit it in a future competition?

You may be able to resubmit an application into a future competition, providing the project addresses the technology priorities and eligibility criteria for that competition. However it should be noted that the application form and specific applicant guidance differs across competitions.  If you are re-submitting a previous application you must ensure that you are using the correct documentation for the competition.

In the case of competitions which are continuously open such as Smart and the Biomedical Catalyst Fund, only one resubmission per project is allowed within the scheme.

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11.   How can I find partners for my project consortium?

Some competitions are collaborative in nature and therefore projects must be delivered by a consortium, rather than by a single applicant.

The Technology Strategy Board supports two routes to help you identify partners for your project:

·  Join a Knowledge Transfer Network, which are national networks in a specific field of technology or business application. Further information about KTNs can be found here http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/knowledgetransfernetworks.ashx

·  Join _connect (https://connect.innovateuk.org), a networking platform, to find collaborators and networks and find out about any planned competition consortium building events.

It is usual that you will have identified your consortium members prior to applying for a competition and as such we do not assist you with finding partners during the competition application process itself.

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12.   Are there any restrictions on "defence" industry projects?

Projects are to serve civilian and not defence purposes. Projects aimed at developing technology for defence related products will not be funded under by the Technology Strategy Board. However, projects aimed at developing civilian uses from technology developed for defence purposes will be eligible. The exceptions are the responsive mode of the Smart scheme and relevant SBRI competitions, where defence projects will be accepted.

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13.   Are there any ethical or health and safety concerns associated with applying for funding from the Technology Strategy Board?

It is important that public concerns about technologies are addressed and any unfounded fears dispelled. Project participants will be responsible for ensuring that individual projects are delivered according to the current legislative, regulatory and protocol frameworks.  In some cases, certain requirements will be indicated in the competition documents.

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Application Process - Grant Competitions

14.   Do grants constitute State aid?

Most grants do constitute State aid, but those awarded through our competitions are covered by the Technology Strategy Board’s approved state aid scheme. Grants awarded under this scheme, which may be found at: http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/state-aid.ashx, do not count towards the de minimis allowance of a business. Occasionally competitions are run under the de minimis regulation, but in these cases it will be clearly stated in the competition documentation.

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15.   Do I have to fund part of the project myself?

Yes.  You will receive grant funding for part of the total projects costs, but you will need to provide match funding for the remainder of the total project costs from private sources.

If you are awarded a grant, before your project starts, we will ask for evidence that you have the funding mechanisms in place to manage your cash flow across the life of your project. This could include letters of credit or other such mechanisms.

The level of the match funding required is dependent on the type of competition you have entered, your organisation type and on the type of project you are delivering.  Details can be found in the competition’s Guidance for Applicants.

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16.   Can other public sector bodies provide funding for my project?

Yes. You cannot however apply for funding from them through the Technology Strategy Board and you must make separate arrangements for the funding with the public sector body concerned.  Details of any funding you have arranged with other public sector bodies must be included in the finance summary table on your application form.

Note that total grant funding from all public sector bodies cannot exceed the grant intervention rate limits provided in the competition Guidance for Applicants.  In most cases other public sector involvement will count as part of the grant contribution to the project and reduce the grant funding available from the Technology Strategy Board for the project.

Public sector bodies cannot receive grant funding.

Public funding from EU programmes is treated in the same way as public funding from UK bodies.

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17.   What is a Contribution in-kind?

Contributions in-kind (CiK) are goods or services provided free of charge by a party that is not the applicant/a member of the consortium and not subject to the terms and conditions of the Offer Letter. The CiK would be provided to the applicant, and the then the applicant could claim grant against this cost. CiK costs must meet the usual eligibility criteria and must have been incurred and paid by the provider between the start and end of the project. Verification is normally done through a CiK certificate provided by the contributing organisation. Further details are provided in the Guidance for Applicants.

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18.   Can an academic organisation apply to a competition?

This will depend upon the type of competition and the eligibility rules.  In most grant competitions, academics can apply as a partner but with an industry partner leading the consortium. However, the application must demonstrate that the project is business driven and has industry commitment. Please refer to the competition specific documentation to check eligibility.

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19.   Can spinout companies from universities apply?

In general, yes. Where a university or other public sector body has 50% or greater ownership of the spinout, the spinout will be treated as a large business, which will affect the eligibility of its costs and level of any grant that can be awarded.

In cases where both the spinout and the university are involved in the same collaboration, the added value brought to the collaboration between the two organisations through the project will need to be justified in the application.

Spinout companies with less than 10 employees should refer to the Sole Traders, Partnerships and Micro-Companies section of the Guidance for Applicants.

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20.   How do you define a SME?

In certain competitions there are requirements for SME involvement, and also the SME status of a business can affect the amount of grant that can be claimed. We use the EU definition of a Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME). Further details, including the definition of a SME and a SME test, can be found here http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/sme-definition/index_en.htm.  Note that a business which is part of larger organisation group may need to include employee/turnover/balance sheet data from that group in the eligibility and so may not actually qualify as an SME.

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21.   Can a UK business collaborate with a business partner outside of the UK (where the project is collaborative)?

A key aim of The Technology Strategy Board's is to accelerate UK economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.   Therefore, where a consortium has a non UK partner, the application must justify how involving a partner from outside of the UK will meet this key aim and that there is a clear and substantial gain for the UK brought about by their involvement.

Note that work done outside the UK will not attract grant funding, although the project costs associated with the overseas work may in exceptional circumstance be included when calculating total project costs.

Where a competition is for single applicants, rather than collaborations, it is open to UK registered businesses only.

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22.   How many partners can there be in a consortium (where the competition is collaborative)?

There must be at least two partners in a consortium, but there is no upper limit. You should explain the role(s) of each of the project partners and what value that partner will be adding to the project and the exploitation of its outcomes. An unduly large group may be unwieldy in practice.

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23.   What is the difference between an applicant (single applicant or consortium partner) and a subcontractor?

An applicant/partner in a consortium will typically have a significant input to, and role in, the project and will be able to exploit the results of the project (where collaborative through the terms of the Collaboration Agreement), including for example, preferential access to intellectual property rights (IPR) created by the project.

A subcontractor's role is expected to be less significant and its work will be subcontracted to the applicant at a normal commercial rate. A subcontractor does not have financial input to or a management role in the project and is not able to benefit preferentially from any IPR created by the project (and is not included in the collaboration agreement).

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24.   How are R&D tax credits affected by the funding offered from the Technology Programme?

For SME's the whole of a company's eligible costs for the project - whether paid for by its own contribution or by the Technology Strategy Board - attract R&D tax credits at the large company rate. That means the company can claim all of its eligible R&D costs as R&D tax credits against its taxable profits, thus reducing its corporation tax bill. For R&D undertaken outside of the project a SME can claim at the small company rate.

For further information talk to your tax office or see www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/cirdmanual/CIRD81670.htm; and www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/cirdmanual/CIRD89000.htm; more general information on R&D tax credits is available from www.hmrc.gov.uk/randd/ and www.innovation.gov.uk/randd.

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25.   Can I obtain investment under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and also receive a grant from the Technology Strategy Board?

Yes, a business can receive a grant from the Technology Strategy Board and also gain investment under the SEIS at the same time.  Virtually all grant support from the Technology Strategy Board operates as notified State aid.  SEIS operates under de minimis rules, which allow a company to receive up to €200,000 grant over a three year fiscal period.  A company can receive at the same time funding under a notified scheme and also a de minimis scheme.

More information about the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/seedeis/index.htm.

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Post Application Process for Grant Competitions

26.   How soon can I start my project?

If your application is successful, you will be sent a Conditional Grant Offer Letter following the email notification.  You will be asked to accept and return all required documentation within the stated timeframes.  The Technology Strategy Board will also be reviewing your project costs to check that they are compliant with the funding rules, and that your business can manage the cash flow of delivering the project .

Upon completion of these checks, the Technology Strategy Board will send you a “Grant Confirmation Letter”.  You will be asked to enter your project start and end dates, sign the letter and return it to the Technology Strategy Board.

Please note that you cannot start your project before you sign and return the Grant Confirmation Letter and that the start date cannot pre-date the letter.

Any costs incurred prior to the signing of the Grant Confirmation Offer letter will not be eligible.

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27.   Where can I find an example of a collaboration agreement?

All collaborative competitions will require a collaboration agreement to be signed by all partners before their project starts. An example collaboration agreement is provided, where relevant, along with the other competition documents. Other model agreements are available from the Lambert Tool Kit website http://www.innovation.gov.uk/lambertagreements

The Collaboration Agreement should be the only agreement in addition to the Offer Letter between the project participants. It should incorporate project management, as well as the operation and exploitation of the outcomes of the project.

It can take some time to reach agreement on the Collaboration Agreement between the Consortium participants, especially considering involvement of the participants legal and finance departments. It is therefore strongly advised that you allow sufficient time to consider your collaboration agreement well before the deadline for projects to return their Grant Confirmation Letter noted in the Offer Letter.

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28.    Who owns the IP of the project?

IP developed within the project remains the property of the applicant/consortium. Where collaborative, the allocation of rights to this IP should be covered by the project's collaboration agreement.

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29.  Where and by when am I required to exploit the results of the project?

The grant offer requires that exploitation of the results of the project must be within the UK or wider European Economic Area (EEA) within a period starting on the Offer Letter date and ending five years after the date on which final payment of grant is made.

 If you are able to demonstrate that it would be of major positive economic benefit to the UK and strengthen UK GDP to also exploit the results outside of the European Economic Area, the Technology Strategy Board may grant an assent to vary the Offer Letter. However, this will be in exceptional circumstances only and will be considered by the Technology Strategy Board on a case-by-case basis.

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30.  How much information about my application will the Technology Strategy Board make public?

All applications for funding are treated in confidence and no information will be made public during the application and assessment process. All assessors and co-funders are required to sign confidentiality agreements.

In your application form, you will be asked to provide a public summary description of your project for use in publicity material should your project be successful.

At the end of the application and assessment process, the Technology Strategy Board will usually issue a press release or publish a notice on its website. These may, for example, outline the overall results of funding competitions and describe some of the projects to be funded. The titles of projects and names of consortium members may also be listed. The Technology Strategy Board will respect the wishes of partners if they do not want information about their project to be made public at this stage.

Information about successful projects will be placed on the Technology Strategy Board's project database, which is publicly accessible. This will usually include: project title, description of your project for public dissemination, names of the project partners, project cost, amount of grant and contact details of the lead partner. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.

Any successful applicant that wishes to publicise their project, at any stage, must contact the Media Relations Manager (pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk) at the Technology Strategy Board before doing so.

Where projects are collaborative, it is for consortium partners to agree how to manage the public relations aspects of their project. The Technology Strategy Board encourages all consortia to adopt a positive approach towards seeking publicity but respects that some may have sound reasons for preferring project information to remain confidential. Academics are encouraged to publish the findings of their research. However this must be done in the manner agreed in the project's Collaboration Agreement.

The Technology Strategy Board also compiles project case studies, which are used to help publicise the Technology Strategy Board's activities and the benefits of its programmes. Such material will be agreed with projects before it is disclosed.

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  1.  How will projects be monitored?

Projects will be monitored in accordance with the terms of your Conditional Offer Letter. Monitoring is likely to be undertaken by specialist contractors and involve quarterly reporting and progress meetings attended by the appointed Monitoring Officer.

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  1. How will projects be audited?

In most cases, each project partner is required to appoint an independent auditor to audit their project costs in accordance with the terms of the Offer Letter and produce an accountant’s report.

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  1. What happens if there are any changes during the project?

Any proposed changes must be discussed and agreed with the Technology Strategy Board before being implemented.

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Last updated on Thursday 27 September 2012 at 14:31

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