Future Flight Challenge Phase 3: Strand 1 & 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £65 million to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The aim of the competition is to fund projects that will deliver the 2024 vision of the Future Flight Challenge and position the UK as a leader in the third revolution of aviation.  Projects must support the overall objectives of the Future Flight Challenge and align with key Government policies on Net Zero Transport. Interested? feel free to contact us!

Dates:

Competition closes: 03 November 2021, 11am

Applicants notified: 24 January 2022

Project start date & duration: 01 April 2022; duration between 12 and 24 months.

Scope

The Future Flight Challenge is based around 3 classes of aircraft:

  1. Drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)
  2. Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
  3. Sub-regional electric or hybrid passenger aircraft

Strand 1 Demonstration: Projects must focus on the demonstration aspects of novel classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles and systems.  Strand 1 projects must include:

  • A means of demonstration of one or more of these classes of aircraft and enabling systems, operating in a representative environment;
  • Participation of end users or operators. Engagement with appropriate local authorities is beneficial;
  • A clear understanding of the regulatory requirements and proposed route to achieving regulatory approval.

Strand 2 Cross-cutting technologies that enable the deployment and operation of new air vehicles: Projects must focus on developing enabling technologies and cross-cutting systems that support the deployment of these novel air vehicles in UK airspace.  Strand 2 projects must include:

  • A clear demonstration of how the enabling technologies combine to support an overall aviation “systems of systems” that supports the different classes of Future Flight aircraft.
  • Where appropriate, the participation of end users or operators is advantageous.

Specific Themes

Strand 1 projects must focus on demonstrating the operation of aircraft in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case.  Use cases should be real-world applications which drive integration of the different aviation system elements for each of the three Future Flight vehicle classes.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • demonstrations of multiple drones, operating as a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) service in a defined geographic area;
  • a multi-modal demonstration of different aircraft types operating in parallel providing an end-to-end solution;
  • AAM vehicle operation in a representative environment;
  • scheduled sub-regional electric flights over a representative route.

Strand 2 projects must focus on one or more of the following, to demonstrate the operation of vehicles in a representative environment whilst meeting a viable and challenging use case with:

  • a real-world use case application which drives integration of the different aviation system elements for each of the three Future Flight vehicle classes;
  • AAM: Inter-town transport or Intracity Transport;
  • drone or AAM cargo delivery;
  • drone or AAM medical delivery;
  • hub and spoke drone delivery service;
  • AAM Infrastructure or Vertiport;
  • automated ground handling and charging systems;
  • operation of sub-regional electric aircraft;
  • air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems;
  • digital and communications systems.

Across both strands, consideration will be given to projects with a specific regional focus and ambitions for Net Zero transport solutions.

Projects that will not be funded

Strand 1:

  • Development of systems or sub-systems for application to large civil passenger aircraft;
  • Do not include any form of demonstration;
  • Have no plan for engagement with an end-user or operator;
  • Are developing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) for gas turbine or turboprop aircraft;
  • Focus solely on defence or space applications;
  • Are dependent on export performance – for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country;
  • Are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example, if they insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product.

Strand 2:

  • Development of systems or sub-systems for application to large civil passenger aircraft or are standalone aircraft developments;
  • Have no plan for engagement with an end-user or operator;
  • Are developing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) for gas turbine or turboprop aircraft;
  • Focus on defence or space applications of autonomous or electric flight;
  • Are fundamental research or feasibility study projects;
  • Are dependent on export performance – for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country;
  • Are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product.

Eligibility

Strand 1:

  • Project work must be in the UK and results must be exploited from or in the UK.
  • Lead organisations must be a UK-registered business of any size, be or involve at least one UK registered SME and collaborate with other UK registered businesses, academics, charities, public sector organisations or research organisations. Academic institutions cannot lead.

Strand 2:

  • Project work must be in the UK and results must be exploited from or in the UK.
  • Lead organisations must be a UK-registered business of any size, be or involve at least one UK registered SME and collaborate with other UK registered businesses. Academic institutions cannot lead.

Funding Rates

  • Innovate UK have allocated up to £65 million to fund innovation projects across the two strands of the competition.
  • Strand 1: Total eligible project costs between £500,000 and £15 million.
  • Strand 2: Total eligible projects costs between £500,000 and £4 million.
  • For Industrial Research projects you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
    • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
    • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
    • up to 50% if you are a large organisation
  • For Experimental Development projects you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
    • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
    • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
    • up to 25% if you are a large organisation
  • Research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the UK total eligible project costs.