Harnessing Digital Supply Chains for Real-World Impact

Showcase real-world value by solving supply chain challenges in the food, hydrogen, and spare parts supply chains.

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Tackling supply chain challenges with digital solutions

The Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub is dedicated to revolutionising UK manufacturing by leveraging digitally-empowered supply chains. The goal is to enhance efficiency, resilience, and sustainability within the industry. As part of this, the Digital Supply Chain Hub testbeds are pivotal in driving this transformative change.

Accelerating the adoption of digital innovation in supply chains requires multi-party collaboration. Technology innovators must develop digital solutions that address key supply chain challenges while business owners need to invest in robust digital infrastructure to facilitate these solutions within their organisations and across their supply chain partners.

This effort demands a clear demonstration of the solution’s feasibility and value, answering two key questions: “Does it work?” and “How will it benefit my business?”. The core of this open call is to demonstrate real business value using the real-world data environment provided by the national supply chain testbeds.

Technology innovators are encouraged to engage with the testbed of their choice to discuss the project scope, as outlined in the eligibility criteria. This collaborative effort will help both parties assess the technical feasibility and business requirements necessary for the application process.

We are providing funding opportunities for UK-based technology innovators through this open call. Innovators will have the chance to demonstrate the impact of their solutions using real-world, multi-tier supply chain data from our testbeds. The programme offers up to £115,000 in cash funding per project, requiring a 50% co-investment commitment from the innovator (see FAQs for more details).

The programme aims to showcase tangible value in real-world scenarios by tackling supply chain challenges identified by three of our testbeds:

  • Food Supply Chain: Enhancing ESG measurements and metrics
  • Hydrogen Supply Chain: Scaling adoption for off-grid sites
  • Spares Supply Chain: Implementing standardised labelling for spare parts

As a delivery partner, Digital Catapult will facilitate and oversee the partnerships between technology innovators and programme collaboration partners, furthering digital adoption and driving innovation forward.

If you believe that your solution aligns with any of the challenge areas mentioned, we encourage you to contact the testbed via email using the provided contact information in the challenge descriptions below. We welcome applications beyond these specific challenges. If you have a solution that aligns with one of the three testbeds but isn’t explicitly listed, please reach out to the respective testbed for further discussions.

Testbed Challenge Areas

  • Challenge Area 1 – Food Testbed: Enhancing ESG measurements and metrics

    Aim: To develop a robust system that can create accuracy and transparency around ESG reporting in food supply chains, starting with fruit.


    The food test bed developed by Contained Technologies UK Ltd (Contained.io) in conjunction with its broad consortium of academics & industry partners is a high-utility low accessible set of tools critical to the improvement of fresh produce supply chains from seed to shelf in commercial and environmental metrics. The system brings essential reporting requirements of the industries involved in the production, import & export of perishable goods into a manageable framework offering optimisation using both bleeding edge & known, reliable technologies to make real world difference to users

    Challenge Description

    We are looking for technology providers focused around ESG compliance within food supply chains. Ideal applicants will come with digital solutions that can complement our goal of creating a robust system that can create accuracy and transparency around ESG reporting in food supply chains, starting with fruit.

    The final system should provide data in a form compatible with ESG regulatory reporting requirements as well as bring in work commissioned by the DEFRA Science team. This system will leverage multiple data sources, processed through the Food Test Bed platform, utilising AI tools to provide precise analysis of ESG data. This initiative aligns with the UK’s commitment to promoting sustainable practices in agriculture and logistics.

    Data collection and integration:

    • Data sources: we will gather data through CSV files and APIs covering key data points such as field location, farming practices, energy consumption, harvesting methods, transportation mode, and more.
    • ETL platform – testbed: testbed will serve as our extract, transform, load (ETL) platform, ensuring efficient data integration, cleaning, and preparation.

    For more information:

  • Challenge Area 2 – Hydrogen Testbed: Scaling adoption for off-grid sites

    Aim: To scale hydrogen adoption, especially in the non-road mobile machinery space, which will in turn significantly accelerate the growth of the UK hydrogen market.


    Hydrologiq is working to develop a testbed in the emerging hydrogen supply chain. The aims of the testbed are to enable collaboration between supply chain and end customers by managing disparate data in a central, transparent and extensible platform. This will improve sustainability by allowing processes to be modelled and impact to be assessed, drive down costs through demand aggregation and build better supply chain resilience.

    Challenge Description

    Beyond the initial operational challenges, the adoption of hydrogen on off-grid sites can be hampered by the lack of data and insights required for scaling. With its rich, multi-tier supply chain data, the hydrogen testbed can help 3rd parties assess their scaling options, taking into account the availability and the ease of transport of hydrogen across the UK.

    We would like to invite any 3rd parties with the ambition to scale their hydrogen adoption, especially in the non-road mobile machinery space, to work with us to address this challenge, which will in turn significantly accelerate the growth of the UK hydrogen market.

    For more information:

  • Challenge Area 3 – Spares Testbed: Implementing standardised labelling for spare parts

    Aim: To implement a standard framework supported by AI, transforming legacy records into a uniform format for seamless part identification throughout the automotive supply chain.


    NBT group is leading a consortium to create a testbed environment for modeling spare parts supply chains and testing new technology solutions to improve sustainability and performance. The testbed will support the development of a digital twin of a spare parts supply chain for any interested party. NBT’s 2021 Innovate UK funded Feasibility Study revealing 90%+ of all emissions are Scope 3 within an organisation’s supply chain.

    This testbed will allow for modeling collaboration to improve sustainability, circular economy practices, and the impacts of new technologies like additive manufacturing.

    Challenge Description

    Inconsistent identification and labelling standards present a significant challenge across supply chains, including automotive, amplifying supply and demand risks and reducing efficiency, productivity, and lead times.

    This is remedied by implementing a standard framework supported by AI, transforming legacy records into a uniform format for seamless part identification throughout the automotive supply chain. This standardisation streamlines processes, mitigates risks, and boosts efficiency and productivity.

    For more information:

Why should you get involved?

Participants on the programme will receive the following benefits:

Project funding

Up to £115,000 to develop and deploy your challenge focused digital technology within the timeframe of the project. This funding will allow for solution/product development which your organisation may not have been able to consider due to resource constraints.

Develop use cases

Showcase the practical business benefits of your solution within supply chains and to promote adoption beyond the initial project scope.


Opportunity to participate in the programme networking events, roundtables and introductions to industry leaders, investors and potential customers.

Digital Supply Chain Hub

The participant will also have the opportunity to join the future Digital Supply Chain Hub, which will offer a platform for connecting interested digital supply chain stakeholders.

Diagnostic sessions

Your project team will assess the current technological, commercial, and strategic requirements. Technology and industry experts will evaluate, refine, and expedite your solution, as well as significantly broaden your network of colleagues, investors, and clients.

Showcase event

Be part of our showcase event, which is an opportunity to participate, pitch and attend meetings at the showcase events in February 2025 and any relevant digital supply chain events.

How to apply and next steps

  1. Please reach out to the testbed associated with your chosen challenge via email using the contact information provided in the testbed challenge area below.
  2. Please ensure that a representative from your selected testbed consortium completes the ‘Pre-Selection Collaboration Agreement in Principle for submission with the application. Please click the link below to download the form.
  3. Applicants must submit their application via the ‘Apply Now’ button below.
  4. As part of the application, you will be asked to demonstrate that you meet the programme requirements for the challenge open call.
  5. Once you start your application you will have until 23:59 BST on Monday 29th of July 2024 to submit your application. Once submitted you will not be able to make any edits.
  6. If you would like to apply for multiple challenge areas using the same technology, please complete a separate application form for each. If an organisation wishes to apply with more than one technology solution, please submit an additional application form per solution.

Should you require any assistance with the application you can reach out to DSCHopencalls@digicatapult.org.uk to explore the suitability of your idea for the challenges.

You can also join us for Circle discussions and collaborate with industry experts by signing up today and asking in the Digital Supply Chain Hub.

For further information, please click here for frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Programme requirements

Terms and conditions

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the programme’s minimum requirements?
    • Applicants must be eligible to receive up to £115,000 in State Assistance.
    • We expect a minimum 50-50 Co-investment split from Solution Providers/Grant recipients (e.g. £75,000 grant funding = £75,000 co-investment)
    • Applicants must have a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
    • Applicants must be a UK-based registered company, or prove they are a company that has an establishment in the UK, and undertake all activity in the UK.
    • Companies considered an SMEs by the EU’s definition (Link)
  • If I have previously worked with Digital Catapult, am I able to apply?
    • Yes, companies who have already worked with Catapult are eligible for future programmes with any programme they must meet the minimum requirements and be able to claim the programmes value in state aid. This Programme has been assessed as providing up to £115,000 for Participants.
    • Before signing the Programme Agreement, Applicants will therefore be asked to sign a declaration confirming that they are eligible to receive the State Assistance.
    • For more information please find our competition terms and conditions.
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of those involved?

    Solution provider

    Solution Providers will receive funding to solve a range of defined industry challenges. Each industry challenge will be aligned with a Testbed to support solution development and demonstration. Payments of funds will be stage gated in line with key deliverables to meet the industry challenge.

    Programme industry partner

    Testbed companies who have developed the Testbeds and supported framing the challenge areas. Programme Industry Partners may provide access to the supply chain organisations and a data environment in which the value of the solution can be demonstrated in a real industry context.

  • Do I need to speak to the Testbed before applying?

    Yes, as part of the application process, you will be required to upload a copy of the provided pre-selection collaboration agreement in principle. This will confirm that you have discussed your solution with the testbed and that they are willing to work with you on the project.

  • How will my application be assessed?

    All applications will have to meet our minimum requirements as outlined in the T&Cs and will then be scored against the selection criteria below.  

    This scoring will be applied to all applications and will be weighted as can be seen in the table below:

    Strength and Originality of the idea (Project Vision & relevant technology application): 35%

    The applicant’s idea is realistic, well-developed and demonstrates a strong vision and application to the chosen challenge with consideration to the market fit and context. Shows a good understanding and a clearly identified solution with relevance to the manufacturing sector and the challenge objectives. The idea is innovative and original and the proposal has clear aims and vision.

    The idea presented applies suitable advanced digital technologies in a supply chain context and the product is at a suitable technology readiness level (TRL).

    Project delivery and feasibility: 35%

    The technical delivery of the proposal is feasible with a viable solution, within the timeframe and budget. This includes the development and piloting of a Minimal Viable Product.

    The team shows the relevant capabilities and manufacturing domain experience, to deliver the project successfully.  

    All evidence in a well throughout and feasible Product Roadmap.   

    Financials: 10%

    The applicant should deliver a clear overview and explanation of the costs of the programme and confidence that financial management and control of the project will deliver good value for money

    Growth potential (Added value & scalability): 25%

    The company should be capable of demonstrating the significant market demand for their solution and outline how the idea is scalable and has the potential to succeed in its full range of capabilities at a growing scale.

  • Can I receive preliminary feedback on my application before submission and if unsuccessful?

    Unfortunately not, to ensure a fair judging process and due to the high volume of applications we expect to receive, we are not able to work with you or feedback on applications prior to completion. Please refer to our selection criteria to understand what we expect to see from applications.

    If your application is not successful for the programme, we cannot provide feedback to all our applicants, but we will let you know the outcome either way.

  • Do you have to be UK based?
    • Applicants must be a UK-based registered company, or prove they are a company that has an establishment in the UK, and undertake all activity in the UK.
    • Applicants must have a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
  • What counts as Co-investment for this project?
    • There are various categories of co-investment which can be considered. The Co-investment covers the value for money and cost to deliver the technology solutions.
    • Up to 30% of the grant funding can be used by the winners for subcontracting, such as Testbed onboarding support

  • What are the key dates of the programme?
    • Open Call – Applications Open – 17/06/2024
    • Open Call – Application Deadline – 29/07/2024
    • Intended Interview Period – 11/08/2024 – 15/08/2024
    • Intended notification of all Applicants – 19/08/2024
    • Intended public announcement of successful Participants – 19/2024
    • Programme –
      • Start Date: September 2024
      • End Date: January 2025
      • Showcase: February 2025

    Note: Dates and activities can be subject to change. Digital Catapult will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible to applicants/participants should any changes arise.

  • Who retains the intellectual property rights for the solutions developed?

    Participants retain ownership of their IP developed during the programme, but Digital Catapult requires showcasing the developed solution at the final event.

  • How do I prove my contact with the testbed?

    Please kindly fill out the ‘Pre-selection Collaboration Agreement in Principle’ and submit the document in the designated section of the application form. 

    This step is considered essential in the eligibility screening process.

  • What happens after I submit my application?

    Your application will undergo an initial screening process to determine eligibility, followed by an assessment period to identify potential candidates for interviews. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for the week beginning August 12th 2024, so please ensure your availability during and around this timeframe. 

    Please be aware that your provided company name on Skipso will be hidden from the application form to ensure a fair selection process during judging.

  • Can I apply for more than one challenge?

    Yes, applicants are permitted to apply for multiple challenges. In order to do so, individuals must complete a distinct application form for each challenge and communicate with the corresponding testbeds associated with the challenges they are interested in.

Chat to the team

If you haven’t found an answer to your question, please contact DSCHopencalls@digicatapult.org.uk or book a 15-minute slot with the project team. You can also join us for Circle discussions and collaborate with industry experts by signing up today and asking in the Digital Supply Chain Hub.