• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £5.5m in collaborative R&D to develop novel modelling and techniques to reduce the need for physical prototypes.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £5.5m

  • Opens: 21 Oct 2013

  • Registration closes: 27 Nov 2013

  • Closes: 04 Dec 2013

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Towards zero prototyping


The Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to invest up to £5.5m in collaborative R&D that develops and extends the use of novel modelling and simulation techniques, enabling product and process designers and manufacturers to reduce the need for physical prototypes. 
Our aim is to help UK manufacturers to improve their design processes, speeding up the design cycle, reducing costs and creating better designs, thereby improving the UK's competitiveness. 
Projects must be collaborative and business-led, and project partners can include research organisations and businesses of any size. Projects should last between one and two years, and we expect project sizes to be between £100k and £1m. We may consider projects that are outside this range, but applicants should contact us before submitting their expressions of interest. Levels of funding will depend upon the category of research, and the type of partner in the consortia involved. For example, a business would attract 50% public funding of project costs for industrial research (60% for SMEs). 
This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 21 October 2013
The deadline for registration is noon on 27 November 2013, and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 4 December 2013. The deadline for invited applications is noon on 12 February 2014. A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 30 October 2013


The use of modelling and simulation is an effective means for companies to design and test new concepts without incurring the time and cost of making physical prototypes. By being able to engineer new products and processes virtually, design engineers can substantially increase the number and range of variables they can consider, and they can check aspects of the design that cannot be measured on a physical prototype. In many cases, some physical testing is still required, but the use of simulation can reduce the number of such tests drastically, reducing costs and speeding up the design and testing process. This design method, sometimes referred to as ‘virtual engineering', can also facilitate multidisciplinary collaborative product development. 
The use of modelling and simulation tools is increasing, and UK companies are gaining a competitive advantage from the reduction in product design cycle times and costs, and the improvements in design and performance, that virtual engineered products can achieve. But there are still many materials and processes that cannot be modelled, many issues preventing the acceptance of modelling results, and many barriers preventing more effective use of these tools. 
This competition aims to stimulate solutions to these problems, to increase the uptake of modelling and simulation tools as an alternative to physical prototypes, and to increase the benefits of using them. The competition is intended to enable companies that use these tools, or that could use them, to work with researchers and other providers of technology solutions to bring about these improvements. 


We are inviting proposals for collaborative R&D projects that focus on the development of new, improved and more accurate modelling tools, and/ or that enhance the simulation systems that solve these models, run simulation scenarios, and record and present the results of simulations in an understandable way. Modelling and simulation tool development may include experimental testing for validation and verification purposes. Following consultation with modelling and simulation users, software suppliers and researchers across a wide range of market sectors, the project areas below have been identified as those where research and development can provide the most benefit. 
Projects should focus on one or more of the following key issues: 
  1. development of models based on new insights into physical phenomena, and how these can be translated into mathematical equations 
  2. modelling and simulation tools for taking new products into production, including the modelling of new manufacturing methods and processes, factory layouts and supply chains 
  3. multi-scale issues, such as modelling relationships at the atomistic or micro- scale, to allow effects to be understood at the meso- and macro-scale 
  4. multiphysics simulation, such as combining different types of models, or enabling concurrent simulations using different models
  5. simulation and analysis tools for the use and reuse of models and results throughout the lifetime of a design 
  6. development of new mathematical methods for solving and integrating complex problems, such as: 
  • adapting models for use on high-performance computers 
  • dealing with uncertainty in input data 
  • dealing with non-deterministic or random events. 
If you have an idea for a project but are not sure whether it is in scope, please contact us to discuss it. 
Eligible projects can range from small studies investigating the feasibility of new ideas to meet industrial requirements, to large projects developing and validating new or improved modelling or simulation methods. We also encourage the consideration of new business models that may be enabled by reducing the need for physical prototypes. 

Funding allocation and project details

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £3.5m to fund collaborative R&D that addresses the technical challenges outlined in the scope above. 
Additional funding of up to £2m is available from the EPSRC for fundamental research components of these projects, or work packages that contain a significant, high-quality academic research component and that demonstrate added value by building on or being complementary to EPSRC's existing research programmes and portfolios. 
Projects must be collaborative and business-led, lasting between one and two years, and with total project costs of between £100k and £1m. We may consider projects outside this range, but applicants should first contact competitions@innovateuk.org before submitting their expression of interest. To be classed as collaborative, a consortium must have at least two members, with no one partner accounting for more than 70% of the total project costs. 
Businesses partners may receive funding to cover part of their eligible project costs, depending on the size of the organisation and the category of R&D involved. For example, a business would attract 50% public funding of project costs for industrial research (60% for SMEs). 
We will consider projects that involve pre-industrial feasibility studies, industrial research, or experimental development. Where projects cover more than one of these categories, this should be indicated on the application form. Definitions of R&D categories and details of the Technology Strategy Board's funding rules are given on our website under Funding Competitions – Guidance for Applicants. For this and general guidance on how projects are funded see: http://www.innovateuk.org/-/funding-rules. 
Projects may also include a significant proportion of work that consists of early-stage research, probably carried out by a higher education institution (HEI). 
Funding from the EPSRC is available for quality fundamental and industrial research at technology readiness levels (TRL) 1- 3, and for work at TRL 4-5 where this involves the exploitation of research previously funded by the EPSRC. Academic research at TRL 4-5 that does not meet this criterion may be funded by the Technology Strategy Board. Academic members of consortia will be required to indicate which category they are applying for.
Funding to HEIs and non-profit distributing Research and Technology Organisations (RTO) will be limited to 50% of the total project costs. 

Application process

This is a two-stage competition that opens on 21 October 2013. 
Stage 1 – Applicants submit an expression of interest, which is assessed. 
Stage 2 – We invite selected applicants to submit an application. 
All applicants must first register via our website by noon on 27 November 2013. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 4 December 2013
The second stage deadline for invited applications is at noon on 12 February 2014
Applications are assessed by an independent panel of experts. 
A briefing for applicants will be held in London on 30 October 2013 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. 
Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. 
Note: All deadlines are at noon.

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks. 

More information

To apply for this competition you must first register with us. If you have any queries, contact 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the award is confirmed as final. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries. 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 21 October 2013
  • Briefing event: 30 October 2013
  • Registration deadline: 27 November 2013, at noon
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: 4 December 2013, at noon
  • Second stage opens for invited applicants: 13 January 2014
  • Deadline for receipt of invited applications: 12 February 2014, at noon
  • Decision communicated to applicants: early April 2014