1. Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the UK authority on advanced digital technology. Through collaboration and innovation, we accelerate industry adoption to drive growth and opportunity across the economy.
We bring together an expert and enterprising community of researchers, startups, scaleups and industry leaders to discover new ways to solve the big challenges limiting the UK’s future potential. Through our specialist programmes and experimental facilities, we make sure that innovation thrives, and the right solutions make it to the real world.

Our goal is to accelerate new possibilities in everything we do and for every business we partner with throughout the journey – breaking down barriers, de-risking innovation, opening up markets and responsibly shaping the products, services and experiences of the future.

Digital Catapult works with organisations on projects involving at least one of the technologies from its “Advanced Digital Technology Stack”: Artificial Intelligence, Immersive, Internet of Things, Distributed Ledger Technologies, 5G/Future Networks and Quantum Technologies.

2. Programme description

2.1 The Programme
Delivered by Digital Catapult, as part of the FutureScope cross-technology acceleration programme (“Programme”), the Validate Track allows deep tech companies (“Participants”) to develop and validate their solutions targeted at industry-specific challenges. The Validate track aims to provide Participants with the opportunity to accelerate their technology readiness and foster industry collaboration.
This call, which is part of the Made Smarter Innovation Sustainability Accelerator, addresses the challenges of three (3) industry challenge owners, who will work alongside the UK’s ecosystem of technology innovators to fast forward their adoption of digital solutions that deliver resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE) directly into industry.

The programme is divided in two phases:

Phase 1: Prototype Development

During phase 1, the cohort members will gain access to product development expertise, technologists who will offer guidance, business and design support that will complement and aid in funding to develop technology solution for the chosen industry challenge. The companies will present the progress of their prototype solutions at the Midpoint Development Review.

Phase 2: Further prototypes development within a pilot environment

During this phase 2, the successful companies will receive additional funding to further develop their prototypes within a pilot environment. The cohort will gain access to investment support, pitching workshops and support from key manufacturing and industry leaders to become investment-ready.

All successful applicants will participate in Phase 1 of the Programme. Some successful applicants may be selected (not guaranteed) to take part in Phase 2 of the Programme, which will be subject to separate assessment by Digital Catapult during the Programme, which will assess the progress of the development of the technology solution. All Phase 2 Programme Obligations and Programme Benefits set out in this agreement will only be available if applicants are selected to take part in Phase 2 of the Programme. The Phase 2 Programme Obligations and Programme Benefits are subject to change.

2.2 Programme Objectives

The Programme objectives include:

  • Deliver resource and energy efficiency benefits through advanced digital technologies provided by the most innovative UK tech startups.
  • Provide a unique opportunity for the UK startup ecosystem to work directly with industry to solve sustainability focused business challenges.
  • Deliver high quality, impactful solutions that can utilise AI and other digital technologies that maximise the value of industrial data.
  • Create a culture of innovation within industry, enabling new digital strategies and technology roadmaps.

2.3 Programme Judges

During the application stage, the judges will be responsible for scoring the applications according to the process and criteria set out in these Competition Terms. The judges will be chosen based on their experience and expertise. The Programme Judges comprise:

Internal Judges: A number of judges from Digital Catapult will help judge the applications.

And may include any of the following:

Challenge Owner Judges: A number of judges from BAE Systems, Creagh Concrete and HS2.

2.4 The Programme Partners

The following organisations are partnering with Digital Catapult to deliver the Programme:

Programme Funders: Digital Catapult is working as InnovateUK’s delivery partner on this IUK funded programme. InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency, and is part of UK Research and Innovation.

Programme Industry Challenge Owners: During the Project, Programme Industry Challenge Owners may support the project through delivery of prototype development support and hosting bi-weekly check-in meetings to provide guidance as well as providing in-person site visits to their premises.

2.5 Applicants & Participants

You are considered an “Applicant” if you apply to this competition.

You are considered a “Participant” if you are successful with your application and complete all pre-Project activities (e.g. signing the Programme Agreement).

3. Programme benefits

Participants in the Programme will receive the following benefits:

Phase 1: Prototype Development

  • Grant funding: Selected startups will be provided with funding of £75,000 to develop challenge-focussed solutions.
  • Business expertise: Bi-weekly meetings with the Digital Catapult team of experts and industry challenge owners to assess, iterate and accelerate your technology solutions for increasing resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE).
  • Group learning: Group sessions with the other companies on the Programme, sharing learnings and insights gained from the Programme as well as previous expertise.
  • Sustainability Masterclass: A focused session to help you develop and build technology solutions for sustainability-focussed manufacturers.
  • Technical monitoring: Engineering and product management expertise to increase confidence in the product development and push the boundaries of the technology – this monitoring also includes inputs from Digital Catapult technologists and product.
  • Access to facilities: For the duration of the programme, the cohort may be able to make use of Digital Catapult Lab London (Immersive Lab, Future Network Lab), as well as site visits to industry challenge owner’s premises, subject to availability and access terms.
  • Midpoint Development Review Opportunity to pitch, demonstrate product development progress and share lessons learned at the Midpoint Development Review online event in the week commencing 14th October 2024.

Phase 2: Further Prototype development within a pilot environment

  • Grant funding: Selected startups will be provided with further funding of £100,000 to develop challenge-focused solutions.
  • Business expertise: Cohort support for assessing the value and potential impact of the proposed solutions and identifying paths for further development and commercialisation.
  • Group learning (as detailed in Phase 1 above).
  • Technical monitoring (as detailed in phase 1 above).
  • Access to facilities and site visits to Industry Challenge Owner’s premises (as detailed in phase 1 above).
  • Investment-readiness support: Access to Digital Catapult’s investment team to help companies improve their investment readiness, understand what investors are looking for and answer specific business challenges, preparing them to start their fundraising process.
  • Pitch training: One-to-one pitching sessions with a coach to support each company to practise and build the narrative and script for the Final Showcase event.
  • Final showcase event during which Participants will present to an invited audience of ICOs, investors, partners and industry stakeholders in February 2025.
  • Upon successful completion of the Accelerator Programme, the opportunity to join the Digital Catapult Alumni Network, which keeps companies informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and which provides additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other Alumni.


4. Programme obligations

Participants must be willing to commit to the following key obligations:

Phase 1: Prototype Development

  • Attend the kick-off event (in person) hosted by Digital Catapult on 19th June 2024.
  • Programme Alignment Workshop – week commencing 24th June 2024.
  • Participants demonstrate clear progress against the agreed alignment project plan, as agreed by Digital Catapult and the Participant, at an alignment meeting of the solution development.
  • Prototype Development: Digital Catapult does not take any interest in or ownership of your Intellectual Property developed on the Programme, however we do require you to supply a prototype demonstration for the Industrial Challenge Owner and, where possible, Digital Catapult for our own use in showcasing the output of the Programme. If any restrictions need to be placed on the use of such prototype, applicants must inform Digital Catapult of such restrictions in their application.

Attend, present and/or demonstrate progress at the Midpoint Development Review online event on the week commencing 14 October 2024.

Phase 2: Further Prototype development within a pilot environment

  • Provide an updated business plan, detailing distribution and exploitation plan, including the potential sustainability impact of the proposed solutions.
  • Participants demonstrate clear progress against the agreed alignment project plan, as agreed by Digital Catapult and the Participant, at an alignment meeting of the solution development.
  • Attend, present and/or demonstrate at the Final Showcase event (in person) in February 2025.
  • To the extent that the showcase doesn’t cover the specific Industrial Challenge Owner demonstration, participant will also provide a demonstration to the Industrial Challenge Owner.
  • Build a demonstrator against the chosen industrial challenge.
  • Further Prototype Development: Further develop the prototype and supply the prototype to the Industrial Challenge Owner and, where possible, Digital Catapult for our own use in showcasing the output of the Programme. If any restrictions need to be placed on the use of such prototype, applicants must inform Digital Catapult of such restrictions in their application for Phase 2 of the Programme.
  • Prototype Testing: Test the prototype in the pilot environment, which may be on the Industrial Challenge Owner’s premises.

Phases 1 and 2:

  • Attend at least 85% of the bi-weekly meetings with ICOs and Digital Catapult experts, workshop and webinar events throughout the duration of the programme.
  • Price of Technology Solution: In the event that the Participant commercialises the prototype and Industrial Challenge Owner decides to purchase some of all of the prototype, the price provided to the Industrial Challenge Owner will not exceed the price offered to other purchasers of the prototype. If the Participant offers the prototype to other purchasers for less than the price the prototype has been offered to the Industrial Challenge Owner during the same time period, those prices shall become available to Industrial Challenge Owner at the same time as availability to other purchasers.
  • Right of First Refusal: During the Programme and for a period of six months immediately thereafter (“ROFR Term”), if the Participant wishes to commercialise the technology solution they have developed on the Programme, or any derivative or iteration thereof (collectively “Product”), within the Industrial Challenge Owner’s Field (“ROFR Field”), the Participant will notify Industrial Challenge Owner in writing of such determination. As of the date of such notice (“ROFR Trigger Date”), the Participant will grant to the Industrial Challenge Owner a right of first refusal to be a licensee of the technology solution on commercial terms no less favourable than those offered to any third-party for the same or substantially similar volume of licenses, fields of use, territories, and the like (“ROFR”). Such ROFR will remain in effect for sixty (60) calendar days from the ROFR Trigger Date (“ROFR Period”). Industrial Challenge Owner may elect to exercise the ROFR at any time during the ROFR Period. If the Industrial Challenge Owner elects not to exercise the ROFR during the ROFR Period, and, within sixty (60) calendar days of such election the Participant proposes commercial terms more favourable to a third-party than the Industrial Challenge Owner for substantially similar rights, the Participant will promptly notify the Industrial Challenge Owner thereof and afford the Industrial Challenge Owner at least thirty (30) calendar days after the date of such notification in which to enter into a commercial agreement with the Participant on such terms.
  • Participants agree to be visibly associated with the Made Smarter brand.
  • Participants agree to be named and logo listed on marketing collateral, this may include website, print and digital materials.
  • Participant shall complete the Digital Catapult’s EDI Survey (please note each question will have a “prefer not to say” option).
  • Participant agrees to be visibly (name and logo) associated with the Programme, whilst in the Programme, and afterwards as a former participant and beneficiary. This includes marketing collateral, such as website, print and digital materials.
  • For a maximum period of five years following the Project end date, Participant shall use its reasonable endeavours to answer specific questions from Digital Catapult relating to its growth and progress to assist Catapult demonstrate the impact of its activities. This shall include: (i) participation in an annual telephone conversation of one hour, and (ii) participation in a two early survey issued by Digital Catapult.

5. Applicants

5.1 Minimum Requirements 

  • Applicants must be eligible to receive £190,000 in State Assistance (see section 9.2 below for further details).
  • Applicants must have a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
  • Applicants must be a UK based registered company, or prove they are a company that has an establishment in the UK, and undertake all activity in the UK.
  • Applicants must develop solutions enabled by at least one of the technologies from the Advanced Digital Technology Stack: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning , Internet of Things, and 5G/Future Networks.
  • Applicants must be considered as either an early-stage company or scaleup business with a proposed solution/ product/ service at the Technology Readiness Level 4-5 (TRL 4-5).

5.2 What we’re looking for

The programme seeks applications for technology innovators from the tech ecosystem who will be interested in developing innovative technology solutions to address sustainability challenges set by the UK manufacturing community.
Experience within the manufacturing sector is not essential, however knowledge of how to apply this to industry and relevance to the challenge is an advantage.

6. Key dates

  • Open Call – Applications Open – 21st February 2024
  • Open Call – Application Deadline – 1st April 2024
  • Interviews (30 mins) – between Monday, 22nd April until Friday, 26th April 2024
    • BAE Systems Interview –Tuesday, 23rd April
    • HS2 Interview – Wednesday, 24th April
    • Creagh Concrete Interviews – Thursday, 25th and Friday, 26th April
  • Intended notification of all Applicants – 3rd May 2024
  • Intended public announcement of successful Participants – June 2024
  • Programme:
    • Start Date: 19th June 2024
    • End Date: February 2025

7. The application 

7.1 What information should my application contain?

Applicants must answer all required questions in the full online application form.

7.2 Who will see my Application?

The following people will see your application:

Digital Catapult Representatives: Relevant Digital Catapult representatives will see your application in order to assess the application, and otherwise in the administration of your application and, if successful, participation in the Programme.

Programme Judges: will see your full application, except for your personal information fields.

Note: Even if personal information fields from the application are not disclosed, if there is a presentation stage as part of the application process, names of presenters will be disclosed to Judges (if applicable).

7.3 Key contact

Applicant will appoint a main contact for the Programme (“Key Contact”). This person will be Digital Catapult’s main point of contact for the competition and, if successful, Applicant’s Programme activities, including: workshop and event commitments, team members’ availability, ongoing activities, and assessment of progress during and after the Programme.

Digital Catapult will use this personal information for the purpose of carrying out due diligence on Applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme and to notify successful and unsuccessful Applicants over their submissions. The personal data we collect may be shared with and processed by (i) Programme Judges for the purpose of assessing the Applications; and (ii) Programme Partners and third party service providers for the provision of benefits to the Participants in the Programme, as set out in these Competition Terms.

7.4 Submitting your application

You must submit your application via the Skipso form (“Submission Method”).

All applications must be submitted via the Submission Method by the Application Deadline.

Once your completed application has been received, Digital Catapult will send you a confirmation receipt by email. If you do not get a receipt within twenty four (24) hours of the next working day, please email us at madesmartersustainability@digicatapult.org.uk with the subject ”Made Smarter Innovation Sustainability Accelerator Application Submission”.

7.5 Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey

In addition to your application, you will be required to complete Digital Catapult’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Survey (‘Survey’). Whilst the completion of this Survey is mandatory, please note that your responses to this Survey will be kept separately from your application and will have no effect whatsoever on your application to the Programme.

Digital Catapult (as the Data Controller) will collect and process your personal data, including the following special category data to help Digital Catapult improve its services in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion:

  • Racial and/or ethnic origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Health (including disability)
  • Religious and/or philosophical beliefs
  • The data collected and processed may be shared with relevant third parties and/or published but only in an aggregated form, which means you will not be personally identifiable.

Your personal data will be kept for 15 months from the time you respond to the Survey. Should you apply to another of Digital Catapult’s opportunities within the 15 month period, we will provide you with the option to allow us to re-use the data we already hold, to resubmit the Survey or to delete your Survey data. If you choose to complete the Survey again, we will keep your updated data for 15 months from the time you resubmit the Survey.

Please note you are responsible for the accuracy of the data you share with Digital Catapult and you agree to inform us if your data needs to be updated.

For more information on Digital Catapult’s collection, use and protection of your personal data and your rights in regards to your personal data, please see Digital Catapult’s privacy policy (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/privacy-policy) or contact us at privacy@digicatapult.org.uk. If you have specific queries on our use of your Survey data (including a request to delete your Survey data), please contact us at edisurvey@digicatapult.org.uk.

8. Selection

8.1 Qualification

Digital Catapult will undertake an initial assessment of the Applicants against the Programme Requirements.

8.2 Selection process

Stage 1 – Initial Evaluation

All qualifying applications will be reviewed by Digital Catapult Judges and a shortlist created using selection criteria based on the criteria set out in section 8.3 below. The highest ranking applications for each challenge will progress to Stage 2.

Stage 2 – Written Review

Successful applications at Stage 1 will be reviewed and scored by the Programme Judges based on the criteria set out in section 8.3 below. The highest ranking four applications for each challenge will be invited to an interview.

Stage 3 – Interview

Successful applicants at Stage 2 will be invited to an interview to discuss their proposal with the
Programme Judges to ask further questions. The interviews will take place between Monday, 22nd April until Friday, 26th April 2024. If applicants are not able to attend the interview in person, there will be an option to attend virtually. Applicants will be assessed at the interview on the criteria in section 8.3 below. The final score will be made up of the Stage 3 score only. Generally, the highest ranked Applicants will be accepted onto the Programme, but Digital Catapult reserves the right to select the cohort on a portfolio basis to ensure the Programme as a whole is able to deliver consistent support and activities that provide value to all Participants and optimise the impact of the Programme.

8.3 Application Scoring criteria and weighting

The scoring criteria will be assessed based on statements in the areas below. Each criterion will be scored on a range from 0 to 5. 0 being an “Unacceptable or No submission” score for each criterion and 5 being an “Excellent” score for each criterion. This scoring will be applied to all applications and will be equally weighted.

There are 4 criteria upon which applicants will be assessed:

1. Challenge & Solution

The applicant should demonstrate that their company is addressing a clear problem, as well as applying advanced technologies to tackle the challenges in the selected focus areas. The idea demonstrates the potential to increase resource efficiency and energy efficiency (REEE) for the Industry Challenge Owner.

2. Team Experience

The team is equipped with the appropriate technology and business skills, and has a good track record to develop and deliver the proposed solution within the timeframe of the programme.

3. Technical Feasibility

The proposed idea is at the TRL4-5 level, with potential for progression to TRL6-7 at the end of phase 2 of the programme. The technical delivery of the proposal is feasible within the timeframe and budget. whilst providing clear added value to the Industry Challenge Owner. .

4. Growth Potential

The idea is scalable and has the potential to succeed beyond the programme in its full range of capabilities at a growing scale. The idea is likely to be suitable for further funding opportunities.
Furthermore, Participants will be selected on a portfolio basis to ensure the Programme is able to deliver consistent support and activities that provide value to all Participants.

8.4 Due diligence

We will carry out due diligence on applicants prior to the point of selection onto the Programme. Applicants must be willing to submit further information or documentation upon request to qualify as ‘successful’.

8.5 Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified and provided with a standard agreement for review and execution (“Programme Agreement”).

The Programme Agreement is a standard agreement and not negotiable. We do try and ensure these contracts are fair and reasonable.

In order to be accepted onto the Programme, successful applicants must sign the Programme Agreement.


9. Competition Terms – Specific

9.1 Benefits

All the benefits provided under the Programme by third-party organisations (“Suppliers”) are subject to the Supplier’s terms and conditions stated in the Programme T&Cs.

Any optional benefits provided by third party organisations whose terms and conditions are not contained in the Programme T&Cs will be agreed between the Participant and the Supplier directly.

Digital Catapult reserves the right to amend the list of benefits at its sole discretion.

9.2 State Assistance

Participants shall receive the grant as Minimal Financial Assistance (“MFA”), or to the extent applicable under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the de minimis aid regulations (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1407/2013), collectively referred to herein as “State Assistance.
The total State Assistance received or due to be received by an individual Participant (including any associated companies e.g. subsidiaries), originating from a United Kingdom source, must not exceed £315,000, or €200,000 (approximately £165,000) for Northern Ireland Companies (or any other company subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol), each in aggregate across the Participant’s current fiscal year (as at the Agreement Date) and the previous two fiscal years.

This Programme has been assessed as providing £190,000 for Participants. / approximately equivalent to €221,890.
Before signing the Programme Agreement, Applicants will therefore be asked to sign a declaration confirming that you are eligible to receive the State Assistance.

9.3 Accessibility

We aim to make all of our programmes accessible. We welcome feedback as to how we may be able to improve the accessibility of our programmes in the future. If you have any feedback with regards to accessibility, please send your feedback by email to: edisurvey@digicatapult.org.uk. Your feedback may be used by us in our programmes and activities.

9.4 Applicants

Digital Catapult reserves the right to accept any application which does not fulfil the minimum requirements.

9.5 Key Dates

Digital Catapult reserves the right to change the Key Dates at its sole discretion. No extension to deadlines will usually be granted, with very limited exceptions where the Applicant requests an extension due to reasonable extenuating circumstances, beyond the Applicant’s control and unforeseen to them, subject to the Applicant providing evidence that proves the extenuating circumstance; and the Applicant informing Digital Catapult as soon as reasonably practicable following the extenuating circumstance becoming apparent. Digital Catapult reserves the right to consider the factors and decide whether such circumstances are extenuating and whether granting an extension is fair to other applicants. No extension granted will usually be for greater than two working days.

9.6 Applications
All information and documents requested must be submitted. Failure to submit all requested information and documents may result in the application being rejected. Catapult will not use outside information in respect of your application unless otherwise indicated, other than to undertake due diligence. Digital Catapult reserves the right to not work with people or an organisation which it believes could impact its reputation.

9.7 Previous Applications

Not used

9.8 Personal Data

Digital Catapult is the Controller for the personal information submitted in the Application for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR.

In submitting the Application, the Applicant confirms that it has made the Key Contact and any other person whose personal data has been submitted, aware of, and has the lawful grounds to enable each Controller (including its processors) to, process the personal information of the Key Contact (and any other person named in the Application and open call process) as set out in these Competition Terms and in accordance with Digital Catapult’s Privacy Policy (https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/privacy-policy/).

9.9 Programme Agreement

Digital Catapult reserves the right to make amendments to the Programme Agreement it issues up until the point of execution by both parties.

9.10 Participant Programmes

Digital Catapult reserves the right to offer Participants access to its Participant Programmes, such as its Platinum Awards.


9. Competition Terms – General

10.1 Data Retention

Digital Catapult will store your application and the scoring it has received for the entire duration of the Programme, or up to two (2) years, whichever the greater. If you are a successful Applicant, we shall also store your Application for a period of up to seven (7) years following the end of the Programme. For administration purposes, contracts may be stored for up to seven (7) years, contracts providing State Assistance for up to eleven (11) years, and deeds for up to thirteen (13) years from the end of the Programme.

10.2 Confidentiality

The information provided in your Application will be kept confidential and only used and disclosed as reasonably necessary for the purpose of assessing Applications, and, if admitted onto the Programme, for working with you in the Programme. This may include with our Programme Partners as indicated above.

For practical reasons, NDAs will not be signed by Digital Catapult or the Programme Partners as part of this Programme Competition. The activities we provide can only be achieved through trust of the tech community. It is therefore not in our interest to release your sensitive information. Confidentiality provisions are included in the Programme Agreement.

The scoring of your Application will be treated as sensitive information.

As your Application will be transmitted over the Internet, ultimately Digital Catapult cannot guarantee its security.

10.3 Intellectual Property

We respect the intellectual property of others and we ask our Applicants to do the same.

In submitting the Application, you promise that you have and continue to have all necessary rights, licenc es, permissions and consent to provide the content in your application to us, and for Catapult to use the Application as we have set out.

We will not remove from Applications any proprietary labels or copyright assertions.

10.4 Disclaimers, Exclusions & Limitations

We accept no liability for any consequences, whether direct or indirect, that may arise from your participation in the Programme Competition, your reliance on any statements we may have made about your application, the Programme, or its suspension or withdrawal.

In any case, to the extent permitted under law, Digital Catapult’s liability shall be limited to one thousand (£1,000) pounds.

10.5 Entire Agreement

These Competition Terms constitute the entire agreement between Digital Catapult and the Applicant and extinguish all previous and contemporaneous agreements, promises, assurances, and understandings between them, whether written or oral, relating to the subject matter of these Competition Terms

10.6 Jurisdiction

The Programme Competition is governed by English law and the Applicant agrees that any dispute shall be exclusively resolved in the English courts.

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If you have any additional questions about the Made Smarter Innovation Sustainability Programme, please email madesmartersustainability@digicatapult.org.uk


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