Across the UK, supply chains are under enormous pressure putting business as usual in jeopardy. New approaches need to be found for managing supply chains.

At Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub, we are launching a world first: National Digital Supply Chain Testbeds.

The National Digital Supply Chain Testbeds will involve supply chain companies working with domain experts and technology providers to build an end to end testbed that delivers on their business goals.

Central to our work is delivering real world impacts to businesses in UK supply chains. This means more than developing digital solutions but to mobilise all of our resources and that of our ecosystem to deliver value in line with three core themes:

  • Sustainability and circularity
  • Resilience
  • Collaboration

Whilst this does mean that we need to invest in technology solutions, it also means that we need to invest in supply chains so that they can be ready to benefit from the transformational solutions that the UK has to offer both now and in the near future.

The UK has one of the world’s most dynamic and well funded technology communities, but falls behind when it comes to the availability and adoption of manufacturing and supply chain technology solutions. The National Digital Supply Chain Testbeds will play a significant role in changing that.

These testbeds will focus on supply chain sustainability, resilience and collaboration in order to:

  • gather, create, communicate, and deliver new knowledge
  • validate existing products, services and processes
  • facilitate professional development
  • deliver business impact in real-life contexts

This is phase one of the project – building and developing the testbed environment. There will be a phase two which is where tech solutions can be deployed into the test environment in 2023.

Applications for this testbed building opportunity are now closed.

Challenge brief

For this project, you’ll develop a real world operational end-to-end supply chain environment where technologies, that are ready to deliver value to users, can be tested and deployed without risking business disruption. 

There are four supply chain types we would like to develop testbeds for:

  • New emerging supply chains – e.g. new nuclear, hydrogen, protein, circular textiles, off-site construction (MMC). This testbed should have a focus on sustainability and resilience
  • Spares supply chains – with a significant circular element within any sector
  • Electric vehicle battery supply chains – with a significant focus on resilience and collaboration
  • Food or FMCG supply chains – with a significant focus on resilience and sustainability

Testbeds should ideally cover the end to end supply chain but at least cover three tiers.

Our expectation is that each testbed will require up to £1.5 million of investment over a 24 month period. The Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub will provide a grant of up to £315,000 with additional in-kind investment (time and asset utilisation) from consortium participants.

The core infrastructure should be provided by a testbed technology partner or cloud provider and for the application systems to be provided by the respective IT teams or vendors for each supply chain organisation.

You can access the full slide deck about the programme by clicking the button below.


Briefing video

What co-investment are we looking for?

Co-investment from industry and technology partners is a requirement of the funding

There are various categories of co-investment which  can be considered:

Labour and overheads

Establish the day rate for staff contributing to DSCH. This is calculated by the number of working days per year less bank holidays and your organisation’s annual leave entitlement.

You can also contribute 20% of your labour costs as overhead. This includes both direct and indirect overhead.


The costs of materials to be used directly on your project are eligible costs if they are purchased from third parties.

Software that will be used in the project you may only claim the additional costs incurred and paid between the start and end of your project.


You can contribute costs relating to work carried out by third-party organisations that are not part of your project team. The work must:

  • involve expertise that does not exist within the project team
  • involve skills that it is not practical to develop in-house for your project

Travel and subsistence

You can contribute reasonable travel and subsistence costs for those individuals identified in the labour tab. Costs must be necessary and incurred exclusively for the progression of your project. Travel costs must be at economy travel only.

Other costs

This category can be used for any direct project costs which are not covered in the other categories. Examples of other costs include:

  • Workshop or laboratory usage charge outs
  • Preparation of technical reports
  • Licensing in new technologies

Who should apply?

The testbed open call is available to all organisations but in order to be eligible an organisation needs to be part of a consortium and have clear access to industrial supply chains in the defined areas. 

Ideally a consortia should be comprised of, as a minimum:

  • Supply chain companies across three tiers
  • A technology company capable of creating testbed data environment
  • Supply chain domain experts capable of designing the testbed and technology roadmaps
  • Companies securely making data available in the testbed in accordance to open innovation principles

Applications must be completed by the full consortium.

Programme benefits

The testbeds are established to create the environment within which we can test high quality technology solutions capabilities to deliver business improvements across supply chains.  This means that companies will be able to benefit in the following ways:

Grant funding of up to £315,000

Become part of the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub initiative, leveraging £25 million investment to de-risk supply chain innovation with a grant of up to £315,000.

Have access to a whole suite of digital solutions delivering business value such as improved Scope 3 emissions measurement, optimised inventory management, automated supply chain mapping and more.

Digital solutions for your sector

The opportunity to create a pipeline of highly qualified technology solutions tailored to your sector needs.

Technical support and guidance

Support to design and develop an environment providing access to processes, data and systems.

Why should I get involved?

  • Why should supply chain organisations build their own supply chain testbed?
    • Test and develop key elements of your supply chain strategy in a world class innovation environment
    • Access, develop and deploy new digital solutions in a simulation of your real world supply chain systems and data
    • Access to wider digital supply chain hub capabilities and experience 
    • Build and strengthen supply chain relationships with your key supply chain partners to deliver greater sustainability, resilience and productivity
    • Provide leadership to your broader supply chain and the UK innovation community around the art of the possible for supply chain optimisation
  • Why should a technology partner participate in a testbed?
    • Accelerate new product development in a real world, neutral experimentation supply chain environment
    • Lower barriers to adoption of your solutions through integrating your technologies into the wider manufacturing ecosystem
    • Leverage experience from across a multi tier supply chain to update technology solutions in line with the latest thinking and innovations
    • Access to wider Digital Supply Chain Hub capabilities and experience 
    • Strengthen integration and cooperation between important supply chain partners by working collaboratively on the application of new digital solutions within the Testbed
  • Why should a domain expert participate in a testbed?
    • Gain early access to innovative digital technologies that deliver value to your clients, including, resilience, sustainability and collaboration
    • Work with key industry partners in guiding the deployment of new digital solutions,  in a unique environment that is low risk but accurately reflects the real world supply chain
    • Demonstrate your leadership in digitising the supply chain in a real world environment, influencing market direction and how to best create and generate from digital solutions
    • Strengthen understanding of best practice in the application of new digital solutions through collaboration with important supply chain partners and technology providers in a cooperative environment

Programme timeline

We envisage that the testbeds will be established in the first 12 months and then we be used for the second 12 months where solutions developed across the Hub ecosystem will be deployed in the testbed to prove out how they can strengthen the efficiency, sustainability and resilience of the supply chains.

Key dates

  • Testbed briefing event – 5 October
  • Application deadline – 14 December, 23.59
  • Presentation/interviews – 16/17 January 2023 
  • Testbed start date1 March 2o23
  • Testbed completed and ShowcaseMarch 2024
  • Testbed operationMarch 2025



  • What information will the programme ask for in the application form?

    The application form is composed of four sections: 

    • Section A. Project description, objectives and outcomes (Project vision) 
    • Section B. Delivery (Governance and testbed requirements ) 
    • Section C. Financial (Finance and added value)
    • Section D. Outcome sustainability  (Added value and scalability)

    The selection criteria and their weighting can be found in the T&Cs

  • Do all members of the consortium need to be UK-registered?

    Yes, only UK-registered organisations are eligible to receive funding from Digital Catapult

    • The majority of the work must be carried out in the UK.
    • The testbeds needs to be hosted in the UK .
  • Does Digital Catapult do the costing at full economic costs? (only for universities)

    We follow the standard UKRI grants approach for academics where 80% FEC (Full Economic Costs) are grant funded and 20% is the match contribution.

  • Can VAT be added to the grant funding?

    The payment of the grant is outside the scope of VAT, but if VAT is chargeable, all payments of the grant will be deemed to be inclusive of all VAT and Digital Catapult shall not be obliged to pay any amount over and above the amount of the grant.

  • Who is responsible for the governance of the testbed?

    The consortium will be responsible for its own governance structure, the lead applicant will need to present their proposal for how the consortium will be governed under question 8 of the application form.

  • Can work be completed internationally as a part of the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub Testbed?

    The majority of work must be completed in the UK, in order to be eligible to receive funding. The consortium can subcontract work to partners outside the UK, but this must not exceed the majority of work and must be outlined in the application process. 

    Digital Catapult can only grant funding to UK registered organisations. 

    In terms of the parties in the supply chain tiers. It is understandable that supply chains are international in nature so it may require 1 or more tiers to be outside the UK to cover the test bed. However, if this is the case it is for the participants to manage the data flows and requirements if an international supply chain company is involved. As mentioned our expectation is that the testbed development work will be done in the UK.

  • Will the owners of the testbeds be able to define the projects that they want to be funded, through DSCH grants, into their testbed?

    The technology roadmap will be a key output from testbeds which will define the to-be data digital requirements. These roadmaps will be combined from each of the testbeds and will inform the portfolio of solutions to be funded in follow on calls. This will be done in agreement with the testbed participants.  Whilst there will be a limit on the number of solutions we can fund, there will be no limit on additional solutions that testbed owners would like to deploy outside of the DSCH portfolio.

  • How much funding will be invested by DSCH in projects that can be deployed into the testbeds, and can DSCH commit to a minimum value being invested in each testbed?

    DSCH is committed to invest £3 million worth of funding into building a portfolio of technology solutions to be deployed across all testbeds. All the testbeds within DSCH will be presented with the opportunity to be able to access and deploy those solutions for testing in the testbeds.  We hope however, that the results from the testbed deployments will deliver such value that there will be follow on investment opportunities but these cannot be guaranteed.

  • Can a solution be proposed that only works across 1/2 tiers of the supply chain?

    We believe that the value of a testbed is the fact that it represents a multi-tier supply chain and allows digital solutions to be developed, deployed and tested against a real world multi-tier supply chain. We have suggested testbeds comprising three tiers or more as being suitable. Tiers can include logistics providers between tiers so 4 tiers could be OEM, logistics provider, tier 1 and tier 2. In the case of emerging supply chains there may not be large existing relationships or data flows, but they will still need to be designed for a multi-tier supply chain.

  • What type of collaboration agreement is needed?

    The consortium lead, key project partners, and project partners will be required to submit a collaboration agreement between themselves before any claim can be made to Digital Catapult for grant funding for the project which covers the following as a minimum 

    • the grant split
    • the activities undertaken
    • IP rights 
    • the programme management

    This needs to be signed three months after signing the participation agreement.

  • How many members can a consortium have?

    The testbed open call is available to all organisations but in order to be eligible, an organisation needs to be part of a consortium and have clear access to industrial supply chains.

    Ideally, a consortium should be comprised of, as a minimum:

    • supply chain companies across three tiers
    • technology company capable of creating testbed data environment
    • supply chain domain experts capable of designing the tes bed and technology roadmaps
    • companies securely making data available in the testbed in accordance to open innovation principles
  • Does the infrastructure provider have to be the only technology partner?

    The technology partner is likely to be a cloud provider, who provides access to core digital infrastructure and expertise for the creation of the data environment. It will be important that they have a strong relationship with the lead supply chain partner. However, providers of supply chain software systems that are used to support the business processes associated with the target product within the testbeds will likely  be consortium members as well. 

  • How will the testbeds enable competitive advantages for businesses?

    Each testbed provides a unique environment for proving digital solutions and innovation across a multi-tier supply chain. It is our expectation that the testbeds as a whole will move the market forward by creating the perfect environment for technology solutions to be deployed and prove out real business value from real data before adopting the solutions.  Whilst the outcomes developed in the testbeds will be shared with a broad ecosystem, they will be owned by the consortium members meaning that they have – for at least the lifetime of the project but we hope much longer – a world class environment to de-risk the adoption of technology and keep one step ahead of their competition.  Only testbed participants will generate critical detail behind the learnings from the solutions deployed within.

  • How will the intellectual property of the testbed be managed?

    Digital Catapult does not take ownership of your intellectual property developed on the programme. However, the consortium lead, key project partners and project partners will be required to submit a collaboration agreement between themselves before any claim can be made to Digital Catapult for grant funding for the project which covers the following as a minimum:

    •  the grant split
    • the activities undertaken
    • IP rights and
    • the programme management

    This needs to be signed three months after signing the participation agreement. 

    Normally, in a consortium any background IP a company brings to the consortium, as well as any they develop on their own in the project is owned fully by them and is licensed out to consortium members for the duration and purposes of the project.  Any IP developed collaboratively is normally shared or given away.

  • How will cybersecurity and permissioning be managed in the testbed?

    The testbed will be built and owned by the consortium and as such a suitable approach to cybersecurity and permissioning will need to be implemented. We believe a key success factor for the testbeds is the sharing of data with the testbed but that any data shared across the consortium will be in accordance with strict permissions and rights agreed by the consortium.  For some consortia, data will need to be kept within the UK to align with their data sovereignty rules. This will need to be defined in the collaboration agreement once accepted onto the programme.  

  • Can you apply for more than one testbed?

    If you are a technology partner or domain expert, you can be part of more than one consortium as relevant. All applications will be marked independently. Whilst it is possible for you to be accepted for more than one testbed, we are aiming for a balanced portfolio and so will look to diversify participation as much as possible. If you score highly on both, we will have a deliberation call with the internal and external judges to decide on the final cohort. 

  • Does the lead applicant need to be a member of a supply chain?

    No, but they need to be working with industry applicants who have access to the data required by the testbed on an ongoing basis.

Terms and conditions

Find the full terms and conditions here.

Once you have registered your details, the full application form will be sent to you via email.