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Up to £16 million is available to UK business across 2 competitions for technologies and systems for extreme and challenging environments.

Innovate UK is making the funding available for robotics and artificial intelligence technologies in applications such as deep mining, nuclear energy, space and off-shore energy.

This is an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund activity. It aims to develop robotics technologies that can take people out of dangerous work environments and go beyond human limits.

Demonstrator programme

There is up to £6 million available for projects that stimulate the development of robotics and artificial intelligence demonstrators.

This is the first phase of the competition. Projects should focus on technical feasibility studies of individual technologies, systems or subsystems in extreme or challenging environments.

Phase 2 will run in 2018. This will focus on experimental developments of fully-integrated systems that will be tested and demonstrated in realistic, extreme environments. To be considered to lead a project in phase 2 you must apply in phase 1.

Find out more about the robotics and artificial intelligence demonstrator competition and apply.

Collaborative research and development

You can apply for a share of £10 million for collaborative research and development (R&D) that results in new and novel systems.

Projects should demonstrate a potential step-change in capabilities. Examples include:

  • innovative materials or systems, for example, actuators, sensors and telecommunications
  • improved robotic capabilities, such as structural and radiation tolerance
  • improved machine vision systems
  • improved situational awareness, navigation, localisation and mapping
  • more energy-efficient devices and systems
  • miniaturised systems, for example, sensors, components and integrated sub-systems
  • systems engineering including verification and validation tools and methodologies
  • mission planning and risk management

The focus is primarily on off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining, however, other extreme and challenging environments may also be considered. We are particularly interested in projects that cut across sectors.

Find out more about the robotics and artificial intelligence collaborative R&D competition and apply.


The robots and artificial intelligence challenge is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

By developing new technologies and systems that can be deployed in extreme environments, this challenge will create a safer working world for people, as well as supporting advances in industry and public services to make them more productive.

Government will invest £93 million in this challenge area over the next 4 years.

Find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Competition information

  • both competitions are now open for applications
  • in the demonstrator competition, projects should last up to 12 months and range in size up to total project costs of £500,000. The competition closes on 19 July 2017
  • in the collaborative R&D competition, projects should last up to 36 months and range in size up to total project costs of £2 million. The competition closes on 2 August 2017
  • all projects must be led by a business
  • businesses can attract up to 70% of their project costs

See our robotics competitions.


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Post written by: Vicky Maggiani

Vicky has worked with Promark Media for over 15 years and has a wealth of experience in editing and creating copy in a variety of sectors. Contact her on T: 01257 231900 or email:


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