Up to £80,000 to develop proof of concept solutions

The Hub offers innovative technology innovators from startups, scaleups and SME organisations the opportunity to develop solutions to some of the supply chain industries biggest challenges.

By tackling a challenge with us you’ll work with leading UK manufacturing and supply chain partners with access to up to £80,000 funding to develop your proof of concept. Alongside expertise, and industry leading support on how to apply your research to supply chains. Participants receive expert and timely support, industry workshops and benefit from our market-leading expertise and facilities.

Challenge brief

We’ll soon be opening applications, in the meantime find out more about this challenge brief and register your interest to stay up to date.

Technology solution challenge: Sustainable supply chains

Meeting the UK government’s ambition to achieve a net zero economy by 2050 calls for urgent actions for all organisations. Many companies put their initial focus on measuring scope 1 and 2 of the GHG protocol but increasingly, they are putting effort to capture scope 3 into their value chain and products so that they can comprehensively manage GHG risks and opportunities. As one study found that for many businesses, scope 3 emissions account for more than 80% of their carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce this are quickly becoming essential.The GHG protocol outlines a methodology for the creation of scope 3 activities. We see that there is a clear opportunity for us to support the integrity of data collection.

At present the two types of data have significant opportunities for improvement which, once delivered, will bring a great deal more dynamism to the marker around scope 3:

  • Primary data collection – high cost and low integrity
  • Secondary data – complex to access, generic and out of date

There are over 30 databases recommended by the GHG protocol for secondary data. How can advanced digital technologies harmonise these databases to enable rapid access to a hypothetical scope 3 supply chain assessments?

Programme benefits

The Hub programme provides a range of mutually beneficial opportunities for your business:

Proof of concept funding

You can receive up to £80,000 to develop a challenge-focused proof of concept or research paper

Technology and industry expertise

Engagement with technology experts, researchers and innovation managers from Digital Catapult and wider industry

Peer to peer learning

Working with a cohort of exciting companies made up of talented entrepreneurs from across a wide range of sectors

Showcase event

Opportunity to participate, pitch and attend meetings at the showcase event at the end of the year 2022

Backed by industry

With a programme backed by UK industry, you’ll be tackling real world challenges for supply chains

Future focused

We’re unlocking and accelerating UK innovation, adopting advanced digital technologies for UK manufacturers and suppliers

Who should apply?

The programme seeks applications for technology innovators who will be interested in developing technology proof of concepts or researchers who will be interested in developing research papers to some of the UK’s core supply chain challenges.

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

  • Applicants must be a UK based registered company – or prove they have an establishment in the UK and undertake the majority of the activity in the UK.
  • Applicants have 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)
  • Applicants must have a business bank account
  • Experience within the manufacturing sector is not essential, however knowledge of how to apply this to industry and relevance to the challenge is required.
  • The team has to 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)
  • The team must be able to attend all the activities (for example, workshop and final Showcase for the duration of the programme).

Selection criteria

Applications will be selected based on the following criteria.

Appropriate team experience

The team is equipped to deliver the proposed proof of concept and has appropriate technology and business skills, demonstrating a good team structure that will deliver a first tested proof of concept within five months.

Strength and originality of the idea

The idea is realistic, well-developed and demonstrates strong vision and application to the chosen challenge with consideration to the market fit and context. The idea is innovative and original.

Feasibility of proof of concept delivery

The technical delivery of the proposal is feasible with a viable solution, within the timeframe and budget. This includes the design and build of the proof of concept, level of manpower, manufacturing and financial capabilities.

Technology suitability/relevance

The idea presented applies suitable advanced digital technologies from our technology areas and the product is at suitable technology readiness level (TRL) according to the challenge brief.

Potential to answer the set challenge

The proposal shows a good understanding and a clearly identified solution with relevance to the manufacturing sector and the challenge objectives. The proof of concept and proposal has clear aims and vision.

Growth potential

The idea is scalable and has the potential to succeed in its full range of capabilities at a growing scale. The idea is likely to be suitable for further funding opportunities.

Application FAQs

  • Can I apply for more than one challenge brief?

    Yes, you can apply for as many challenge briefs as relevant, all applications will be marked independently. You will only be accepted for one challenge. If you score highly on both, we will have a deliberation call with the internal and external judges to decide the final cohort.

  • I don’t quite fit some of these criteria, can I still apply?

    The Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain programme aims to offer opportunities throughout the year across all stages of maturity. Our applications are often themed to industry challenges across a number of industries. If our active applications aren’t right for the maturity of your business or its specific focus, please register your interest to stay in the loop on future opportunities offered by the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub.

  • What if my application is not successful – can I reapply for a later programme?

    Yes of course, your application may not have been relevant to the theme or stage of business, as we run applications across all stages of maturity and across industry themes as new applications open you are welcome to apply to these future opportunities.

  • Will I receive feedback on my application?

    Unfortunately, because of the high volume of applications, we can’t provide feedback on applications. You can join a webinar as part of the open call process to get advice on applying. We will of course notify everyone that applies of the outcome of their application via email, this will be an automated email.

  • Who will my application data be shared with?

    The application information will only be used for the purposes of the programme and its evaluation, and will only be retained for the duration of the programme, for participants on the programme for the evaluation period (maximum five years) and otherwise to comply with legal requirements. This application information is only shared with Digital Catapult and its programme partners, where information is shared outside of Digital Catapult this will be made clear in the application form/programme agreements.

  • Does my organisation need to be a UK registered company to enter?

    Collaborations may include international contributors but the team must have an establishment in the UK, and the majority of work should be carried out in the UK and teams need to be able to commit to attending workshops and showcase events.

  • Can I save my application form?

    Participants must first complete the registration of interest form on the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub, upon completion you will receive a link to the full Submittable form. This form can be saved to allow you time to save and come back to your answers. Applicants must submit the application forms in full to be considered for the programmes, we are not able to see in draft forms. Upon submission of this form you are not able to revise or edit the form anymore.

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

    Specific to application briefs and requirements, the application form will seek for more details that help us to understand your solutions, ideas and relevance to the programme. These questions typically seek to understand:

    • Company information (for example, company name, full name, email address, founder details and category)
    • Progress (for example, stage of company, revenue and customers)
    • Idea (for example, strength, originality, relevance, scalability)
    • Team (for example, team experience and skill set)
    • Challenge application and delivery proposed (for example, relevance, suitability of proposed technical delivery)
    • Equity and legal (for example, investment information, non-compete and de minimus state aid compliance)
    • Programme participation – ability to commit to attending our workshops and events
  • There’s no active applications, how can I get involved?

    If there are no open applications or the applications that are open are not of interest/relevance then you can register to stay up to date on Digital Catapult and the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub.

  • What is the application process?

    The application process is straightforward, and consists of a submitted application, followed by a number of an online interviews between selected applicants and the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain judges and team:

    1) Register your interest and chose an open application
    2) Interested parties will receive an email with a link to the full application form
    3) Applicants must complete the submittable form by the advertised application closing date
    4) Application forms reviewed and shortlisted
    6) Participants selected and contracts signed

  • Who can apply?

    The Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub has been designed to build a strong ecosystem of partners across supply chains. It brings together opportunities from industry with applied technologies and research from startups, SMES and academics.

    Our research and startup application opporunities will be of relevance to those working in or experienced with:

    • Immersive technologies including virtual, augmented and cross reality
    • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
    • Future networks including 5G and IoT technologies
    • Distributed systems such as distributed ledger technologies

    For specific business maturity please see the requirements for each programme of activities.

  • What does the programme offer? Why should I apply?

    Digital Catapult is unique in its ability to connect high potential scaleups with established businesses, investors, government and public sector, research and academia – to discover new ways of solving industry challenges, increasing productivity and opening up new markets.

    Across the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub, a range of opportunities are provided to tackle challenges within supply chains, showcase exciting developments and engage with programme partners.

    These may vary across projects where relevant but typically include:

    • Regular interactions with the Digital Catapult team, industry experts, and corporate partners to iterate and accelerate your supply chain solutions, and significantly expand your network of peers, investors and customers
    • Networking events, roundtables and introductions to industry leaders, relevant investors and potential customers
    • The opportunity to join the Digital Catapult alumni network, which keeps them informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other alumni.

Application Funding FAQs

  • 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.

  • Does Digital Catapult invest in participating startups?

    Digital Catapult is not an investment firm or venture capitalist. We do not provide any private investment. We do however run events with the investor community.

    Participants keep 100% of any investment raised as part of the programme – Digital Catapult and its partners do not take any equity from participating companies.

    Certain programmes however will provide focused funding for programme activities and this is made clear in the application brief.

  • Does Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub offer funding?

    Funding within the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain programme framework is provided on a per project basis. Not all elements of the programme will provide funding – where funding is provided this will be made clear on the application process and expected use of funds. For example, some projects may provide funding for the development of proof of concepts or minimum viable products.

  • Is there a fee for startups or members of the innovation community to be involved?

    For startups and scaleups, and academics there is no fee for participating in the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain programme, though participants will be expected to cover their own travel expenses for any in-person events they attend.

Related challenges

We currently have five challenge focused calls to action for technology solution and research organisations to addres

Technology solution call to action supply demand imbalance

Most OEM’s only have visibility to tier one suppliers and above that they have limited knowledge of who is involved. For this technology challenge you’ll develop proof of concepts designed to understand how we can map supply chains from available data.

Read the challenge brief

Technology solution call to action supply chain risk

Supply chain disruptions accompanied by sudden surges in demand have caught many businesses off guard. For this proof of concept challenge you’ll develop technology prototypes for Intelligent supply and demand sensing for planning.

Read the challenge brief

Research call to action: Supply chain resilience

For this research challenge you’ll develop research into supply chain resilience – exploring what it is and how it should be measured, working to identify how new technology can support this.

Read the challenge brief

Research call to action: Supply chain collaboration

Governance and trust is a key enabler – what has been done in this area and how can technology improve things? For this research challenge you’ll be exploring how technology can enable better governance and trust.

Read the challenge brief

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