This competitive funding programme is designed to maximise benefits to SMEs and to support and encourage industrial investment into the aerospace sector and its supply chain, through the funding of innovative and high impact projects.
The SME Programme is coordinated and managed by:
Join our webinar on Tuesday 5th December 2023, 14:00 – 15:00 to discover more about the SME Programme. Click here to register.
|Project size||Total grant funding request must not exceed £1.5 million|
|Project duration||Projects must be between 12 and 36 months in duration|
|February 2024 Outline Stage
|Outline Stage draft applications open: Monday 8th January 2024
Outline Stage opens: Monday 5th February 2024
Outline Stage closes: Wednesday 21st February 2024 at 11am
Eligibility and interview notifications: Friday 23rd February 2024
|February 2024 Outline Stage
Pitch Panel dates
|Selected applications will be invited to attend a Pitch Panel on one of the following dates:
Day 1 Monday 4th March 2024
Day 2 Tuesday 5th March 2024
Day 3 Wednesday 6th March 2024
Outcome notification date: Tuesday 12th March 2024
Support for applicants to the SME Programme includes clinics with ATI Technologists, themed innovation workshops and guidance on how to prepare a strong Pitch Panel presentation and Full Stage Application. The ATI Hub can also generate new connections which could become consortia applications to the SME Programme.
All applicants (including project partners) to the SME Programme must read and sign the ATI SME Programme Agreement. To avoid delays later in the process we recommend doing so as early as possible, but it must be completed no later than 30 days after FSA Notification. This link will take you to our secure page where you can read and sign the document. Your digital signature will be reviewed by the ATI team, and you will receive confirmation via email once the validation process is complete.
Opens three times per calendar year and your application is reviewed by the Aerospace Technology Institute only. DBT is responsible for the decision to progress your OS applications to Stage two based on the Aerospace Technology Institute’s recommendation. There is no funding in this phase, funding will be awarded in Stage two.
If you are successful in the Outline Stage competitions, you will be invited to apply to this competition. Further details will be published by Innovate UK in early 2024.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.
Published competitions close at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Our planning assumption is that grants totalling up to £10 million a year will be allocated to successful projects through this funding stream. However, this will depend on the number and the quality of applications received.
Individual partners that are conducting commercial or economic activities as part of the project, which may include research organisations, can request grant funding of up to:
At least 50% of the total grant funding must go to the SMEs in your consortium.
UK registered large businesses in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total project costs. If your consortium contains more than one large business, this maximum will be shared between them.
The UK registered research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activities can share up to 30% of the total project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
Organisations that are in financial difficulty will not be awarded grant funds. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests at the application stage.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.
This competition is open to any registered organisations in the UK looking to develop technology for the civil aerospace sector. Applicants may apply as individual organisations or as a part of a consortium.
To lead a project your organisation must:
Collaboration or single applications are accepted for this competition. Collaborative projects are encouraged.
More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules. Research Organisations cannot lead.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
Your organisation must:
Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will not count towards the total eligible project costs but must be included your application.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK. Department for Business and Trade (DBT) will review this on a case-by-case basis.
You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. If you are submitting a new application and are unsuccessful, you can only resubmit an updated application into one future competition that allows you to resubmit.
We will not award you funding if you have:
When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further two applications.
If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.
An academic institution, charity, public sector organisation, research organisation or RTO can collaborate on any number of applications.
If projects apply to both the SME Programme and the Strategic Programme and are successful in both, they can only accept one of the awards.
The ATI’s strategy and focus for investment is delivering clean growth for the UK Aerospace Sector. Eligible projects will develop technologies that will deliver lower emissions, improve competitiveness and/or grow the UK’s market share. The aim of this competition is to help SMEs to develop innovative technology in line with the ATI’s strategy, which can be exploited in the next five years. The primary application for technologies developed through this competition should be for the civil aerospace sector but cross-sector application is valuable.
Your application must align with the UK aerospace technology strategy, Destination Zero, which is split into these areas:
Zero-carbon emission aircraft technologies: Zero-carbon emission technologies are focused on propulsion and infrastructure development to enable zero-carbon tailpipe emissions. This encompasses battery, hydrogen, and fuel cell technologies, much of which are in early stages of development.
Ultra-efficient aircraft technologies: Ultra-efficient technologies are focused on improving energy efficiency and hence impact CO2 emissions, NOx and noise. Continued development of crucial high value, sustainable, high productivity manufacturing technologies will position the UK to be a first-choice location for the industry.
Cross-cutting enabling technologies: To enable both the zero-carbon and ultra-efficient opportunities, the UK must develop cross-cutting enabling technologies and capabilities for whole aircraft design and analysis. These capabilities should extend to the aircraft lifecycle from design, through manufacture & assembly, operation, and end of life.
If your project is not in scope, it will not be eligible for funding and will not be assessed. We will tell you the reason why.
We will fund industrial research projects as defined in the guidance on categories of research and investment aid for research infrastructure.
We will not fund projects that focus:
We cannot fund projects that are:
Your application will be assessed on the following criteria by the ATI assessors:
When submitting an Outline Stage application, you will be asked to submit a PowerPoint presentation. This PowerPoint presentation must address the following criteria:
Demonstrate project alignment with ATI’s Technology Strategy and explain the aircraft-level benefits.
Demonstrate the project ambition.
What are the routes to market and business opportunities?
What are the exploitation opportunities for the project?
The Aerospace Technology Institute will make recommendations to the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). ATI will make recommendations to DBT. Based on ATI’s recommendation DBT decides on which projects proceed to the full stage application. There is no funding in stage one. All funding will be awarded in stage two.
If your project is successful, you will be invited by Innovate UK to apply to the next Full Stage Application stage of the competition via the Innovation Funding Service. To defer entry to the next full stage batch, please contact ATI via firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm you would like to defer entry. You must apply to one of the next two full stage competitions, or you will need to reapply to the Outline Stage.
If your Outline Stage application is not successful, you will be given the opportunity to discuss your feedback with the ATI should you wish to. Details of how this can be arranged will be provided in the feedback document. You will be able to submit the same project proposal up to a maximum of three times.
The outcome of your application and feedback on your Outline Stage application will be provided on the published notification date from the Aerospace Technology Institute.
Applications will be submitted via the ATI website. Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:
You cannot edit your application once submitted.
The application is split into two sections.
This section provides background for your application and is not assessed.
This includes the following: project’s title, start date and duration. We also request your total project costs (includes ineligible costs) and total grant request (only eligible costs).
Lead applicant’s contact details
The lead applicant is the main point of contact for the project. In this section we request the name and email address for a representative of the lead applicant’s company who is responsible for submitting the application.
Location of lead company
You will be required to select the location of the company site where the majority of the project work will take place for the lead company.
List the organisations which you will work with on your project. Give the name, location and email address of the key point of contact from each organisation.
Project summary (max 200 words)
Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign the right experts to assess your application.
SME Programme Agreement
All applicants to the SME Programme must read and sign the ATI Framework Agreement. To avoid delays later in the process we recommend doing so as early as possible, but it must be completed no later than 30 days after Full Stage Application notification. This link will take you to our secure page where you can read and sign the agreement. Your digital signature will be reviewed by the ATI team, and you will receive confirmation via email once the validation process is complete.
If you have signed the ATI Framework agreement for a project on the Strategic Programme, you are not required to sign the SME Programme Agreement.
In the Outline Stage of the competition, you are required to submit a PowerPoint presentation (in PDF) and answer the short questions about your project. If your application is in scope, you will be invited to present your application to the Panel.
You must submit a copy of your presentation as a PDF. Please note that the copy of the presentation submitted must be the same as the one used during your Pitch Panel.
*Only the first 10 slides will be assessed. If more than 10 slides are submitted, they will not form part of the assessment. The presentation duration is strictly 25 minutes and additional time will not be allocated.
After submitting your application, the ATI will carry out an eligibility check to determine if your project is in the scope of the competition. Only projects that are in scope will be invited to present their Outline Stage presentation to the Panel. If your project is not in scope, you will be told why but will not receive any further feedback on the application.
You will be invited to present your Outline Stage presentation to the Panel on one of the published panel dates. The panel will include a Chair and a Co-Chair and the ATI assessors. The presentations will be conducted virtually via Microsoft Teams. Guidance on how to use Microsoft Teams, can be found here.
Please see an example of an indicative meeting agenda below.
|Welcome and introductions||All||5 mins|
|Project presentation||All||25 mins|
|Questions and answers||All||15 mins|
|Panel feedback and assessment||Panel only *||15 mins|
*Applicants will be asked to leave the meeting after the question and answer session.
If you are successful in the Outline Stage, you will be invited to submit a Full Stage Application. Further details will be published by Innovate UK in early 2024.
Visit the ATI Hub to discover opportunities to connect with the ATI and collaborate with innovators in Aerospace.
We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds. If you would like to make a reasonable adjustment request to us for the application process, please contact email@example.com.