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Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: for research and innovation

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A fund to strengthen UK science and business innovation and take on the biggest challenges that society and industry face today.

What is the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together our world-leading research base with Britain’s best businesses to transform how we live, work and move around.

By investing in the very best research, development and innovation, it will tackle the major industrial and societal challenges we face today and put the UK in the best position to take advantage of future market opportunities.

The fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

It is part of government’s £4.7 billion investment in R&D over 4 years that will support the delivery of its modern Industrial Strategy.

The challenges

Working with businesses and academics, we identified the biggest opportunities in the 4 grand challenge areas where:

  • the UK has a world-leading research base and businesses ready to innovate
  • there is a large or fast-growing and sustainable global market

Future challenge areas shortlisted to be supported by the fund include: accelerating detection of disease, commercialising quantum, digital security by design, driving the electric revolution, future flight, industrial decarbonisation, manufacturing made smarter, sustainable plastic packaging and transforming foundation industries.

To find out about the latest challenge opportunities, sign up for email alerts to get updates to this page or Innovate UK’s newsletter.

Search for live funding opportunities and apply.

Audience of the future

How we experience the world is changing. People will soon be able to become totally immersed in their favourite films, sports and entertainment.

The audience of the future challenge will support the UK’s best creatives to tell the most ground-breaking stories. Using virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies, they will create truly immersive experiences that capture the public’s imagination.

It will invest up to £33 million to create and test new immersive experiences, improve the production of high-quality content and develop new talent.

  1. UK takes centre stage in immersive entertainment revolution
    • 10 January 2019
    • News story
  2. New immersive designs to transform audience experiences
    • 13 November 2018
    • News story
  3. New centre for immersive storytelling will help UK industry excel
    • 4 October 2018
    • News story
  4. The immersive economy in the UK
    • 21 May 2018
    • Research and analysis
  5. Immersive technologies for audiences of the future: new funding
    • 28 March 2018
    • News story
  6. Creative Industries Sector Deal launched
    • 28 March 2018
    • Press release

Creative industries clusters

Creative industries – such as film, music, video games and architecture – are among the largest and fastest-growing in the UK, employing more than 2 million people and enriching the lives of the countless others that experience them.

Up to £39 million from government is being matched by funding from academia and industry to design new creative products and services, develop commercial partnerships and embed highly-skilled jobs that build for the future.

  1. Creative Industries Sector Deal launched
    • 28 March 2018
    • Press release

Driverless cars

Driverless car technology is advancing to make them a safe, viable option for roads. It is a growing sector predicted to be worth £63 billion by 2035.

This challenge has so far announced £38 million of funding to test and develop the AI and control systems for these vehicles.

  1. Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments
    • 21 April 2017
    • Press release

Faraday battery challenge

More and more people are making the switch to fully electric and zero emission vehicles. As petrol and diesel cars come to be phased out this market is only going to grow – to an estimated £5 billion in the UK and £50 billion in Europe by 2025.

The £246 million Faraday battery challenge will invest in research and innovation projects and establish new facilities in battery production, use and recycling.

These batteries will be more cost-effective, durable and lightweight than ever before, with improvements to their performance, safety and sustainability.

Their use will go beyond the automotive sector, crossing over into other applications within the low carbon, electrified economy.

Find out more about the Faraday battery challenge.

  1. ICoNiChem: recycling rare materials in electric vehicles
    • 14 November 2018
    • Case study
  2. Ilika Technologies: recharging the electric vehicle market
    • 19 September 2018
    • Case study
  3. Deregallera: improving the range of electric vehicles
    • 18 September 2018
    • Case study
  4. Green light for ultra-fast electric car charging innovation
    • 12 June 2018
    • Press release
  5. Future electric vehicle batteries: long-lasting, cleaner, better
    • 7 December 2017
    • News story
  6. Government investment into Faraday scale-up facility to make UK a world leader in battery innovation
    • 29 November 2017
    • Press release
  7. Business Secretary to establish UK as world leader in battery technology as part of modern Industrial Strategy
    • 24 July 2017
    • Press release

From data to early diagnosis and precision medicine

Identifying a disease early is usually the best way to manage and minimise its effect – but some can take years to present symptoms.

As we come to better understand the characteristics of disease, health professionals will be supported to diagnose patients earlier and select the right treatment first time.

The challenge will invest up to £210 million to combine research data and evidence from the NHS to create new and improved ways of identifying disease and treatment pathways.

  1. Artificial Intelligence to help save lives at five new technology centres
    • 6 November 2018
    • Press release
  2. Live longer, better, healthier: new innovation funding
    • 12 March 2018
    • News story
  3. Government announces £300 million for landmark ageing society grand challenge
    • 12 March 2018
    • Press release

Healthy ageing

Our population is ageing – with a third of children now expected to live to be 100-years-old.

The healthy ageing challenge will invest up to £98 million to help people to live active, independent and happy lives as they age.

It will allow them to stay in their homes for longer and provide more effective care options when this is needed.

  1. Live longer, better, healthier: new innovation funding
    • 12 March 2018
    • News story
  2. Government announces £300 million for landmark ageing society grand challenge
    • 12 March 2018
    • Press release

Leading-edge healthcare

Medicine isn’t one size fits all. Patients with the same disease or condition can respond differently to treatment.

The £181 million challenge will develop and manufacture new medicines, vaccines, advanced therapies and other healthcare products, including digital technologies.

It will speed up the time it takes to get the right treatment to the individual, while growing life sciences manufacturing in the UK, which delivers almost 9% of our manufacturing GVA.

Find out more about the leading-edge healthcare challenge.

  1. Randox: fighting global antimicrobial resistance
    • 4 January 2019
    • Case study
  2. Industrial strategy delivers new vaccines manufacturing centre to lead the fight against deadly disease
    • 1 December 2018
    • Press release
  3. Manufacturing of life-enhancing medicines boosted by new government funding
    • 22 November 2018
    • Press release
  4. Patients lives to be greatly improved by technology revolutions in healthcare
    • 29 September 2018
    • Press release
  5. Advanced therapies: new investment in skills and capabilities
    • 17 May 2018
    • News story
  6. Improved healthcare for all: pioneering projects get funding
    • 22 January 2018
    • News story
  7. Sir John Bell to unveil industry-led proposals to build UK’s status as world leader in life sciences
    • 30 August 2017
    • Press release

Manufacturing and future materials

Industries including aerospace and automotive are calling for more affordable, light-weight, composite materials for their vehicles and component parts.

This challenge – with up to £26 million funding announced to date – will invest in industry and research to develop the next generation of materials for advanced manufacturing.

  1. Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments
    • 21 April 2017
    • Press release

National Satellite Test Facility

With up to 10,000 satellites due to be launched into orbit by 2025, there’s a market for high-performance launch technologies and testing capabilities to meet this ambition.

A £99 million investment will help to establish a National Satellite Test Facility. The facility will support the assembly and delivery of next-generation satellites, including bigger, more technologically-advanced systems.

  1. Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments
    • 21 April 2017
    • Press release

Next-generation services

Financial and professional services – including accountancy, insurance and legal services – employ around 2.2 million in the UK to a value of £190 billion.

Through £20 million of ‘pioneer’ funding, the next-generation services challenge will develop and embed technologies including artificial intelligence and data analytics to make these more efficient and productive.

This should lead to better services for customer and clients, and a more competitive sector.

  1. New era of tech-driven legal and financial services to boost productivity and improve customer experience
    • 28 November 2018
    • Press release
  2. Next-generation services: new fund for industry and research
    • 27 April 2018
    • News story
  3. Tech sector backs British AI industry with multi million pound investment
    • 26 April 2018
    • Press release

Prospering from the energy revolution

Moving to a low-carbon, more resource-efficient economy is good for the UK, and for its people – helping to improve air quality and offering cheaper, more convenient access to clean energy.

This challenge will invest £102.5 million to develop smart, clean energy systems and localised approaches that join up energy supply, storage and use with heat and transport.

It will also allow the UK to pursue global opportunities, with an estimated $2 trillion set to be invested in energy infrastructure worldwide every year.

  1. Energy systems of the future: local communities to benefit sooner
    • 7 December 2018
    • News story
  2. £102 million to make UK prosper from the energy revolution
    • 23 May 2018
    • Press release
  3. Prospering from the energy revolution: full programme details
    • 14 May 2018
    • News story
  4. Smart energy systems: new funding and events
    • 11 April 2018
    • News story

Quantum technologies

Quantum technology is still at an early stage – but there’s potential for it to transform industries such as automotive, cyber security, defence, healthcare, infrastructure and telecommunications.

The challenge is a £20 million ‘pioneer’ fund to translate quantum science into a whole new set of products and devices, including sensors, consumer electronics and digital services, with enhanced capabilities.

  1. Quantum leap: prototype devices will be ready in 2 years’ time
    • 22 November 2018
    • News story
  2. UK to lead second revolution in quantum technologies
    • 28 March 2018
    • Press release

Robots for a safer world

Industries such as nuclear, offshore energy, deep mining and space conduct their activities in extreme and challenging environments.

Now, with advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, there’s an opportunity to make greater use of unmanned systems – and create work for people that is safer, leaner, and improves quality of life.

The up to £93 million challenge will develop advanced robotics that remove people from potentially harmful operations and improve productivity, resilience and delivery of public services and infrastructure.

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

  1. Robotics and AI: projects to create safer work for people
    • 8 November 2017
    • News story
  2. Robots to fix underground pipes and help cut roadworks
    • 31 December 2018
    • Press release

Transforming construction

The UK needs more affordable places for people to live and work that are safe, healthy and energy efficient.

To create better buildings and deliver the £650 billion worth of projects planned under the national infrastructure programme, the construction industry needs to become more productive, competitive and sustainable.

This challenge will invest £170 million – matched by £250 million from industry – to modernise construction processes and techniques, such as using digital design and standardised, modular components for offsite manufacture.

  1. AI and digital design to transform future of UK construction
    • 8 February 2019
    • News story
  2. New high-skills jobs open up as UK construction sector transforms
    • 6 December 2018
    • News story
  3. Virtual reality to revolutionise UK’s construction sector
    • 30 November 2018
    • Press release

Transforming food production

The growing global population will need 60% more food by 2050 – calling for more resilient, healthier, sustainable sources and management practices.

Through an up to £90 million investment, this challenge will support new developments in precision agriculture and food production, building on UK strengths of understanding in crops, livestock and environmental sciences.

It will create more efficient, sustainable food supplies that are less vulnerable to shocks, such as disease outbreaks and extreme weather.

  1. Transforming food production: funding and events
    • 21 February 2018
    • News story
  2. Business Secretary calls for new tech revolution in agriculture
    • 21 February 2018
    • Press release

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