The Programme

The Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub (“DSCH”) is on a mission to transform UK manufacturing through digitally empowered supply chains that are more efficient, resilient and sustainable. For this innovation competition, the Digital Supply Chain Hub is looking for companies that are interested in developing and testing low-cost technology solutions targeted at manufacturing SMEs (“Programme”).

Through four challenge areas, technology innovators are invited to address painful problems that DSCH has identified to enable the adoption of low-cost solutions by manufacturing SMEs. Each challenge comes with £100,000 available for a tech solution provider to work with SME manufacturers on these complex areas. 

The challenge areas are:

  1. Compliance to mandatory regulations
  2. Sustainability
  3. Supply chain visibility
  4. Input costs and sourcing

The programme is divided in two phases:

Phase 1: Technology Solution Development and Testing

Develop and trial an MVP with two Manufacturing SMEs over the course of nine months

Phase 2: Commercialisation, Deployment and Scaling

Opportunity to gain access to a wider network of SMEs adopting your tech solution.

All successful applicants will participate in Phase 1 of the Programme. Some successful applicants may be selected (not guaranteed) to take part in Phase 2 of the Programme, which will be subject to separate assessment by Digital Catapult during the Programme which will assess if the solution is suitable to be scaled and adopted commercially and/or deployed in one of the DSCH testbeds (more information can be found here). All Phase 2 Programme Obligations and Project benefits set out in this agreement will only be available if applicants are selected to take part in Phase 2 of the Programme.

Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the UK authority on advanced digital technology. Through collaboration and innovation, we accelerate industry adoption to drive growth and opportunity across the economy. We bring together an expert and enterprising community of researchers, startups, scaleups and industry leaders to discover new ways to solve the big challenges limiting the UK’s future potential. Through our specialist programmes and experimental facilities, we make sure that innovation thrives, and the right solutions make it to the real world.

Our goal is to accelerate new possibilities in everything we do and for every business we partner with the journey – breaking down barriers, de-risking innovation, opening up markets and responsibly shaping the products, services and experiences of the future.

Digital Catapult works with organisations on projects involving at least one of the technologies from its “Advanced Digital Technology Stack”: Artificial Intelligence, Immersive, Internet of Things, Distributed Ledger Technologies and 5G/Future Networks.

The Programme Partners

The following organisations are partnering with Digital Catapult to deliver the Programme:

Programme Funders: Digital Catapult is working as InnovateUK’s delivery partner on this UKRI funded programme. InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency, and is part of UK Research and Innovation.

Programme Sponsors: The following types of Programme Sponsors may be involved in the Programme:

Industry Network Partner Sponsors: during the Programme, Industry Network Partner Sponsors may support in finalising the challenge briefs and recruit suitable Manufacturing SMEs for the tech solutions to work with.

Manufacturing SME Sponsors: during the Programme, Manufacturing SME Sponsors may share data with the tech solution to support in the development and testing of a tech solution to solve one of the four challenges.

The Programme Judges

During the application stage, the judges will be responsible for scoring the applications according to the process and criteria set out in these Competition Terms. The judges will be chosen based on their experience and expertise 

The Programme Judges comprise:

Internal Judges: A number of judges from Digital Catapult will help judge the applications.

And may include any of the following:

Industry Network Partner Sponsor Judges: A number of judges from UK Fashion & Textiles Association, Zero2Five, North East Automotive Alliance, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

Applicants & Participants

You are considered an “Applicant” if you apply to this competition.

You are considered a “Participant” if you are successful with your application and complete all pre-Project activities (e.g. signing the Programme Agreement).



Participants on the Programme will receive the following benefits:

For Phase 1:

MVP funding: £100,000 grant funding to develop a challenge focused MVP and supporting material within nine months.

Engagement: (1) Engagement with Manufacturing SME Sponsors who support in developing and trial Participants’ solutions; and (2) Periodical meetings with the Manufacturing SME Sponsors assigned to the challenge that Participants are involved in and Digital Catapult’s subject matter experts to steer the direction of the projects.

Peer to peer learning: Be part of a cohort of selected companies made up of entrepreneurs from across a different range of sectors, all working towards improving supply chains, as well as being part of the Digital Supply Chain Hub ecosystem and network.

Showcase event: Opportunity to participate, pitch and attend meetings at the showcase event at the beginning of the year 2024.

Digital Supply Chain Hub Platform: Upon successful completion of the Project, the participant will have the opportunity to join the future Digital Supply Chain Hub Platform, which will offer a platform for connecting interested digital supply chain stakeholders.

Alumni Programme: Upon successful completion of the Project, the opportunity to join the Digital Catapult Alumni Network, which keeps them informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and which provides additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other Alumni.

For Phase 2:

Potential further opportunity: Participants may have the opportunity (not guaranteed) to gain access to potential customers deploying and scaling the solution.

Digital Supply Chain Hub Platform: Upon successful completion of the Project, the participant will have the opportunity to join the future Digital Supply Chain Hub Platform, which will offer a platform for connecting interested digital supply chain stakeholders.

Alumni Programme: Upon successful completion of the Project, the opportunity to join the Digital Catapult Alumni Network, which keeps them informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and which provides additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other Alumni.



Participants must be willing to commit to the following key obligations:

For Phase 1

  • Build and trial an MVP against the chosen industrial challenge working together with the relevant Manufacturing SME Sponsor.
  • Attend kick-off event hosted by Digital Catapult in July 2023 (the exact date will be confirmed by Digital Catapult).
  • Attend and present the MVP at the showcase event take place in early 2024 (the exact date will be confirmed by Digital Catapult).
  • Attend all sessions with Digital Catapult and the Manufacturing SME Sponsor between July 2023 and March 2024 the exact date will be confirmed by Digital Catapult).
  • Participant shall lead the phase and liaise with the Manufacturing SMEs and report back to DC on the progress.
  • Provide at the end of the Programme:

0 Support building a case study with the Digital Catapult team

0 Provide example use cases where relevant

0 Provide a write up of the Project detail and lessons learned

0 Provide a reference architecture as appropriate to the solution

0 Provide software components as appropriate to the solution

0 Demonstrator toolset as appropriate to the solution

For Phase 2

  • Participant shall attend the kick-off, workshops, progress check-in meetings/calls, webinars and showcase event hosted by Digital Catapult in Phase 2.
  • Participant shall lead the phase and report back to DC on the progress.
  • Participant must complete all Phase 2 by 31 March 2025.

For both Phase 1 and Phase 2

  • Participant shall complete the Digital Catapult’s EDI Survey (please note each question will have a “prefer not to say” option).
  • Participant agrees to be visibly (name and logo) associated with the Programme, whilst on the Programme, and afterwards as a former participant and beneficiary. This includes marketing collateral, such as website, print and digital materials.
  • For a maximum period of five years following the Project end date, Participant shall use its reasonable endeavours to answer specific questions from Digital Catapult relating to its growth and progress to assist Catapult demonstrate the impact of its activities. This shall include: (i) participation in an annual telephone conversation of one hour, and (ii) participation in two early surveys issued by Digital Catapult.



4.1 Minimum Requirements

  •  Applicants must be eligible to receive £100,000 in State Assistance (see section 8.2 below for further details).
  •  Applicants must have one or more team members with expertise with at least one of the advanced digital technology stack (future networks, artificial intelligence, distributed systems and immersive).
  • 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.

4.2 What we’re looking for

The programme seeks applications for technology innovators who will be interested in developing technology MVPs to one of the UK’s core supply chain challenges for Manufacturing SMEs. The Participant is also seeking applicants who can provide any co-investment contribution to the project.

Here are the requirements for applications to the Made Smarter Innovation: Digital Supply Chain Hub:

  • The applicant has to be registered with Companies House in the UK (or equivalent, for example establishment in the UK and the majority of work must be carried out in the UK. In the case of international co-productions, the work carried out outside the UK must be proportionate to the amount of funding brought in by the international company)
  • Experience within the manufacturing sector is not essential, however knowledge of how to apply this to industry and relevance to the challenge is required.




  •  Open Call – Applications Open – 1 May 2023
  •  Open Call – Application Deadline – 11 June 2023
  •  Interviews with shortlisted applicants – 20/21 June 2023
  •  Intended notification of all Applicants – w/c June 2023
  • Intended public announcement of successful Participants: 17 July 2023 (subject to Participation Agreement being signed)
  • Programme:

o Start Date Phase 1: 17 July 2023

o End Date Phase 1: 31 March 2024

o Start Date Phase 2: to be confirmed.

o End Date Phase 2: to be confirmed.

 Showcase event – March/April 2024



6.1 What information should my application contain?

Applicants must answer all required questions in the full online application form.

6.2 Who will see my Application?

The following people will see your application:

Programme Applications

Catapult Representatives: Relevant Catapult representatives will see your application in order to assess the application, and otherwise in the administration of your application and, if successful, participation on the Programme.

Programme Judges: will see your full application, except for your personal information fields, in order to assess the application.

Programme Participation

Programme Partners: For Participants, Industry Network Partner Sponsors and Manufacturing SME Sponsors will see your full application, along with your company name, key contact name and key contact email address in order to engage with Participants during the Programme, including providing workshops and/or webinars. Note that Industry Network Partner Sponsors and Manufacturing SME Sponsors will not see your personal information fields when judging applications.

6.3 Key contact

Applicant will appoint a main contact for the Programme (“Key Contact”). This person will be Digital Catapult’s main point of contact for the competition and, if successful, Applicant’s Programme activities, including: workshop and event commitments, team members’ availability, ongoing activities, and assessment of progress during and after the Programme. 

Digital Catapult will use this personal information for the purpose of carrying out due diligence on Applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme and to notify successful and unsuccessful Applicants over their submissions. The personal data we collect may be shared with and processed by Programme Partners for the purpose of assessing the Applications and for the provision of benefits to the Participants on the Programme, as set out in these Competition Terms.

6.4 Submitting your application

You must submit your application via the Submittable form (“Submission Method”).

All applications must be submitted via the Submission Method by the Application Deadline.

Once your completed application has been received, Digital Catapult will send you a confirmation receipt by email. If you do not get a receipt within twenty four (24) hours of the next working day, please email us at dschopencalls@digicatapult.org.uk with the subject “Digital Supply Chain Hub: SME Supply Chain Challenges Application Submission”.

6.5 Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey

In addition to your application, you will be required to complete Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey (‘Survey’). Whilst the completion of this Survey is mandatory, please note that your responses to this Survey will be kept separately from your application and will have no effect whatsoever on your application to the Programme.

Digital Catapult (as the Data Controller) will collect and process your personal data, including the following special category data to help Digital Catapult improve its services in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion:

  • Racial and/or ethnic origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Health (including disability)
  • Religious and/or philosophical beliefs

The data collected and processed may be shared with relevant third parties and/or published but only in an aggregated form, which means you will not be personally identifiable, with any processors of the collected data processing data on an anonymised basis.

Your personal data will be kept for 15 months from the time you respond to the Survey. Should you apply to another of Digital Catapult’s opportunities within the 15 month period on behalf of the same applicant company, we will provide you with the option to allow us to re-use the data we already hold, to resubmit the Survey or to delete your Survey data. If you choose to complete the Survey again, we will keep your updated data for 15 months from the time you resubmit the Survey.

Please note you are responsible for the accuracy of the data you share with Digital Catapult and you agree to inform us if your data needs to be updated.

If you complete the Survey on someone else’s behalf, it is your responsibility to ensure you have obtained permission from that person to do so.

For more information on Digital Catapult’s collection, use and protection of your personal data and your rights in regards to your personal data, please see Digital Catapult’s privacy policy (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/legal/privacy-policy/ or contact us at privacy@digicatapult.org.uk. If you have specific queries on our use of your Survey data (including a request to delete your Survey data), please contact us at edisurvey@digicatapult.org.uk.




7.1 Qualification

The Catapult will undertake an initial assessment of the Applicants against the Programme Requirements.

7.2 Selection process

Stage 1 – Initial Evaluation

All qualifying applications will be reviewed and scored by the Programme Judges panel based on the criteria set out in section 7.3 below. The highest ranked applications for each challenge will be invited to a Pitch Day.

Stage 2 – Pitch Day

Successful applicants at Stage 1 will be invited to a Pitch Day to pitch their proposal to the Programme Judges and for the Programme Judges to ask further questions. The Pitch Day will take place between 20th and 21st of June. If applicants are not able to attend the pitch day in person, there will be an option to attend virtually. Applicants will be assessed on the Pitch Day on the criteria in section 7.3 below. The final score will be made up of the Stage 2 score only. Applicants must score at least 70% at Stage 2 to be successful. Generally, the highest ranked Applicants will be accepted onto the Programme, but Digital Catapult reserves the right to select the cohort on a portfolio basis to ensure the Programme as a whole is able to deliver consistent support and activities that provide value to all Participants and optimise the impact of the Programme.

7.3 Application Scoring criteria and weighting

The scoring criteria will be assessed based on statements in the areas below. Each criterion will be scored on a range from 0 to 5. 0 being an “Unacceptable or No submission” score for each criterion and 5 being an “Excellent” score for each criterion. This scoring will be applied to all applications and will be weighted as set out below.

There are four criteria upon which applicants will be assessed:

  1. Strength and Originality of the idea: Project Vision & relevant technology application (50%)

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) according to the challenge brief.

  1. Project delivery and feasibility (20%)

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 (MVP).

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.

  1. Financial (20%)

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.

  1. Growth Potential (10%)

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.

7.4 Due diligence

We will carry out due diligence on applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme. Applicants must be willing to submit further information or documentation upon request to qualify as ‘successful’.

7.5 Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified and provided with a standard agreement for review and execution (“Programme Agreement”).

The Programme Agreement is a standard agreement and not negotiable. We do try and ensure these contracts are fair and reasonable.

In order to be accepted onto the Programme, successful applicants must sign the Programme Agreement.


8.1 Benefits

All the benefits provided under the Programme by third-party organisations (“Suppliers”) are subject to the Supplier’s terms and conditions stated in the Programme T&Cs.

Any optional benefits provided by third party organisations whose terms and conditions are not contained in the Programme T&Cs will be agreed between the Participant and the Supplier directly.

Digital Catapult reserves the right to amend the list of benefits at its sole discretion.

8.2 State Assistance

Participants shall receive the grant as Minimal Financial Assistance (“MFA”), or to the extent applicable under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the de minimis aid regulations  (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1407/2013), collectively referred to herein as “State Assistance.”

The total State Assistance received or due to be received by an individual Participant (including any associated companies e.g. subsidiaries), originating from a United Kingdom source, must not exceed £315,000, or €200,000 (approximately £165,000) for Northern Ireland Companies (or any other company subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol), each in aggregate across the Participant’s current fiscal year (as at the Agreement Date) and the previous two fiscal years.

This Programme has been assessed as providing £100,000 for Participants, approximately equivalent to €113,000.

Before signing the Programme Agreement, Applicants will therefore be asked to sign a declaration confirming that they are eligible to receive the State Assistance.

8.3 Applicants

Digital Catapult reserves the right to accept any application which does not fulfil the minimum requirements.

 8.4 Key Dates

Digital Catapult reserves the right to change the Key Dates at its sole discretion. No extension to deadlines will usually be granted, with very limited exceptions where the Applicant requests an extension due to reasonable extenuating circumstances, beyond the Applicant’s control and unforeseen to them, subject to the Applicant providing evidence that proves the extenuating circumstance; and the Applicant informing Digital Catapult as soon as reasonably practicable following the extenuating circumstance becoming apparent. Digital Catapult reserves the right to consider the factors and decide whether such circumstances are extenuating and whether granting an extension is fair to other applicants. No extension granted will usually be for greater than two working days.

8.5 Applications

All information and documents requested must be submitted. Failure to submit all requested information and documents may result in the application being rejected. Catapult will not use outside information in respect of your application unless otherwise indicated, other than to undertake due diligence. Digital Catapult reserves the right to not work with people or an organisation which it believes could impact its reputation.

8.6 Previous Applications

Not used.

8.7 Personal Data

Digital Catapult is the Controller for the personal information submitted in the Application for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 2018.

In submitting the Application, the Applicant confirms that it has made the Key Contact and any other person whose personal data has been submitted, aware of, and has the lawful grounds to enable each Controller (including its processors) to, process the personal information of the Key Contact (and any other person named in the Application and open call process) as set out in these Competition Terms and in accordance with the respective privacy policies: Digital Catapult (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/privacy-policy/).

8.8 Programme Agreement

Digital Catapult reserves the right to make amendments to the Programme Agreement it issues up until the point of execution by both parties.

8.9 Participant Programmes

Digital Catapult reserves the right to offer Participants access to its Participant Programmes, such as its Platinum Awards.


9.1 Data Retention

Digital Catapult will store your application and the scoring it has received for the entire duration of the Programme. If you are a successful Applicant, we shall also store your Application for a period of up to five (5) years following the end of the Programme. For administration purposes, contracts may be stored for up to seven (7) years, contracts providing State Assistance for up to eleven (11) years, and deeds for up to thirteen (13) years from the end of the Programme.

9.2 Confidentiality

The information provided in your Application will be kept confidential and only used and disclosed as reasonably necessary for the purpose of assessing Applications, and, if admitted onto the Programme, for working with you on the Programme. This may include with our Programme Partners as indicated above.

For practical reasons, NDAs will not be signed by Digital Catapult or the Programme Partners as part of this Programme Competition. The activities we provide can only be achieved through trust of the tech community. It is therefore not in our interest to release your sensitive information. Confidentiality provisions are included in the Programme Agreement.

The scoring of your Application will be treated as sensitive information.

As your Application will be transmitted over the Internet, ultimately Digital Catapult cannot guarantee its security.

9.3 Intellectual Property

We respect the intellectual property of others and we ask our Applicants to do the same.

In submitting the Application, you promise that you have and continue to have all necessary rights, licences, permissions and consent to provide the content in your application to us, and for Catapult to use the Application as we have set out.

We will not remove from Applications any proprietary labels or copyright assertions.

9.4 Disclaimers

We accept no liability for any consequences, whether direct or indirect, that may arise from your participation in the Programme Competition, your reliance on any statements we may have made about the Programme, or its suspension or withdrawal.

In any case, to the extent permitted under law, Digital Catapult’s liability shall be limited to one thousand (£1,000) pounds. 

Nothing in these Competition Terms shall limit or exclude any liability for fraud.

9.5 Entire Agreement

These Competition Terms constitute the entire agreement between Digital Catapult and the Applicant and extinguish all previous and contemporaneous agreements, promises, assurances, and understandings between them, whether written or oral, relating to the subject matter of these Competition Terms.

Digital Catapult and the Applicant agree that they have not relied on any statement, representation, assurance or warranty (whether made innocently or negligently) that is not set out in these Competition Terms. Digital Catapult and the Applicant agree that they shall have no claim for innocent or negligent misrepresentation or negligent misstatement based on any statement in these Competition Terms.

9.6 Jurisdiction

The Programme Competition is governed by English law and the Applicant agrees that any dispute shall be exclusively resolved by English Courts.