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Robotics and AI for safer work: apply for residential and funding

Individuals from a business can attend a 5-day innovation lab to collaborate on ideas and get a share of £15 million via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £15 million for businesses and researchers to collaborate on robotic and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that support safer work for people.

The aim is to develop technologies and systems that take people out of the inspection, maintenance and repair of infrastructure in extreme environments and make unmanned operations the standard approach.

The competition will do this by bringing industry and research together to work collaboratively, come up with ideas for research and innovation projects and apply for funding.

It is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for robots for a safer world – a £93 million investment by government to develop robotics and AI solutions in areas such as off-shore energy, nuclear energy, mining and space.

Find out more about the robots for a safer world challenge.

Competition run in 2 stages

This competition is being run in 2 stages.

In the first, we are inviting individuals to apply on behalf of their business to attend a 5-day residential innovation lab in September 2018.

The innovation lab will allow delegates to work in teams to generate innovative and commercially-viable ideas. It will use creative thinking techniques and activities to help evolve a common language and thinking and enable the sharing of understanding and expertise.

We are particularly interested in individuals that can contribute constructively and enthusiastically in the following areas:

  • robotic structural capabilities
  • reformable structures
  • long-range and beyond visual line-of-sight operations
  • electronics, sensors and photonics for extreme environments
  • AI, autonomy and situational awareness
  • mission planning and risk management
  • systems engineering, including methodologies, verification and validation tools
  • security, reliability, safety and trust
  • collaborative robotics and AI systems
  • long endurance operations
  • modules that support increased dexterity
  • locomotion platforms that work extreme environments

By the end of the lab with your team you will have developed a joint proposal for a research and innovation project.

Proposal development

In the second stage of the competition, teams that attended the innovation lab will have the opportunity to apply for a share of up to £15 million grant funding for their project.

Businesses will have 3 weeks to work with their partners to further develop, finalise and submit their proposals. Final proposals must:

  • make unmanned operations the standard for inspecting, maintaining and repairing physical infrastructures
  • focus on infrastructure in areas such as off-shore energy, nuclear energy, mining and space
  • focus on technologies that operate safely and efficiently over long periods of time, and without the need for maintenance
  • follow appropriate industry standards and system engineering principles

Only those who attend the residential innovation lab and meet the assessment criteria will be eligible to submit a proposal for funding.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 21 May 2018, and the deadline for applications is 11 July 2018
  • we are seeking between 20 and 30 individuals to attend the innovation lab
  • individuals must have the right skills, expertise and experience and apply on behalf of an organisation. This organisation must be:
    • a business, academic, charity, public sector or research and technology organisation
    • based in the UK and intend to carry out the project and exploit the results here
  • successful applicants will need to be available from 10 September to 14 September 2018 to attend the innovation lab. Residential and subsistence costs will be covered by Innovate UK
  • from the ideas developed, we expect projects to have total costs between £2 million and £6 million and to start by January 2019
  • businesses could attract up to 70% of their project costs
  • there is a briefing event in Manchester on 24 May 2018 and in London on 4 June 2018

Find out more about the competition and apply.


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