Made Smarter Innovation: Industry ready Robotics and Automation

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £6 million in innovation projects. These will be for innovation in late-stage robotics and automation to increase productivity, sustainability and resilience within manufacturing processes.



Competition closes: 05 April 2023, 11am

Applicants notified: 09 June 2023

Project start date & duration: 01 October 2023 for up to 9-15 months


The aim of this competition is to develop and demonstrate industrially ready robotics and automation solutions deployable within a factory production area.

Your project must:

  • deliver an innovative digital development or significantly novel application of late stage robotics and automation
  • overcome a technical barrier within manufacturing processes in a factory production setting

Your project must focus on demonstrating the robotic and automation innovations to deliver productivity, sustainability and resilience improvements to the manufacturing process.

Your project must:

  • be robotics or automation focused within a factory production area
  • be focused on value-adding production tasks or directly associated load, unload and move tasks
  • include a physical deployment within a manufacturing facility or very near equivalent, for example, a comparable development facility
  • demonstrate a clear, scalable commercial exploitation route within the project consortium

You are encouraged to:

  • demonstrate clear, scalable commercial exploitation route to other manufacturers and manufacturing sectors beyond the initial project consortium itself
  • include a demonstrator element with access beyond the project timescales (host visits, on-line access, video footage)

Specific Themes

  • flexible and modular automation: driving repurposing and flexible redeployment to maximise use life
  • systems integration: productising scalable commercial solutions
  • mobile robotics: including modular robots and multi purpose
  • human assisted and cobots: including ethics and human machine interface (HMI)
  • no-code and low-code solutions: to improve SME accessibility and lower access cost
  • flexible packaged solutions: reconfigurable modular solutions, tight access retrofit, hygiene friendly
  • gripper and end-effector optimization: especially for challenging production environments, fragile, shape
  • self powered or cableless systems: to reduce installation and safety challenges, maximise flexibility
  • improving robotic accuracy and dexterity: developing low cost metrology to self adjust
  • AI in robotic control: developments in machine learning to improve performance

Projects are also encouraged to consider, as an element of their project:

  • safety of HMI, including integration with smart cells
  • robot ethics, roboethics
  • equality, diversity and inclusion opportunities
  • relevant standards compliance

The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Projects that will not be funded

  • outside of the value adding production area
  • focused on activities outside of manufacturing production processes
  • mainly installing currently available technologies and involve minimal innovation
  • where the main exploitation route is not within manufacturing
  • early stage feasibility projects
  • activities focused on goods-in or warehousing
  • activities focussed on distribution centres, supply chain connectivity or flying factories
  • construction, other than manufacturing activities carried out off-site within a permanent fixed factory
  • offsite repair and overhaul
  • focussed on product design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA), unless this is only a minor element of robotic innovation
  • business process automation (BPA) to automate business transactions through robotic process automation (RPA) of data


  • The total grant funding request for your project must not exceed 50% of your total project costs.
  • Involve at least one factory
  • Include both manufacturing and digital technology capabilities in your consortium
  • Be applicable to at least one manufacturing sector
  • Subsidy Control and EC State Aid funding rules apply
  • Must be collaborative and lead by a UK registered business of any size, and collaborate with at least 1 other UK registered organisation both drawing funding.
  • R&D work must be carried out in the UK and project results exploited from UK.
  • Subcontractors must be UK based, with costs justified and appropriate to the total costs.

Funding Rates

  • Total eligible project costs between £200,000 and £4,000,000 (£6M pot).

For Industrial Research (TRL3-5) 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 (TRL 6-7) 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 (HEI, RTO) can share up to 30% of the UK total eligible project costs.

How PNO can support you

The UK team has a strong track record in securing some of the most competitive national and European grants on behalf of its clients, with a full understanding of how a project should be presented to stand the highest chance of success. Each year in the UK alone, we are responsible for the submission of more than 100 funding applications across all sectors and priority areas. Based on this extensive experience, through careful project selection and using key insight into how a project should be best positioned, we consistently achieve success rates that are more than 5 times the typical success rates for UK national schemes and EU programmes.

For further information or to discuss a project idea please contact PNO Consultants

0161 488 3488 |

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