About the programme

  • Who is RAICo?

    The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Collaboration (RAICo) is a collaboration between the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd, UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and University of Manchester. It is an end user-led collaboration that brings together teams from fission decommissioning and fusion engineering. The programme is focussed on developing robotics and artificial intelligence technologies that are required for the deployment of remotely operated solutions for decommissioning and future fusion powerplants.

  • What will be the involvement of RAICo in the Programme?

    RAICo will be involved in the following ways:

    • Leading the onboarding, kick-off event and initial workshop to clarify the scope, timeline, and process for proof-of-concept development and testing. RAICo will also support the clarification of milestones.
    • Providing access to a RAICo facility tour and learning opportunities about work and existing digital tools
    • Providing technical guidance and support across the proof-of-concept development phase via regular touch points with the technology team and support for the development work
    • Providing support to plan next steps after proof-of-concept, e.g. further development, testing, and deployment roadmap
    • Holding weekly progress check-in sessions
    • Organising and supporting the in-person demo day at the end of the proof-of-concept development phase
  • What are the benefits of participating in the Decommissioning Data Challenge?

    The successful company will have the opportunity to work at a RAICo facility, and will benefit from:

    • Access to a RAICo facility and learning opportunities about RAICo
      • Tours of RAICo, Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE), and JET’s In-vessel Training Facility (IVTF), and demonstrations of existing digital tools created for decommissioning
    • Technical guidance and support to develop a proof-of-concept
      • Access to technical guidance and support for developing a new proof-of-concept or new piece of IP, in addition to support from RAICo’s around data-capture and use.
    • Up to £40k funding
      • The successful applicant is expected to receive up to £40k funding, released according to milestones agreed between the applicant and RAICo.
    • Access into the nuclear sector
      • Working with RAICo will help the applicant gain insight into opportunities within the nuclear sector, grow their visibility and expand their portfolio within the nuclear sector including fission and fusion.
    • Support to plan next steps after proof of concept
      • Support to further development, testing plans, and deployment roadmapping.
  • What is meant by ‘Digital Twin’?

    This project is looking to develop a proof-of-concept digital tool that can collate various data sources to provide a digital representation of the condition of processes, assets, and/or devices across a particular environment, to provide data visualisation, insights, and predictions that can support the planning of work and decision making around nuclear decommissioning.

    We do not expect the digital twin to take decisions at this stage, but for it to support the decision making process.

  • What data will I have access to for developing the proof-of-concept?

    Shared data will relate to nuclear decommissioning sites and will include CAD for structural designs, time-series sensor readings, point clouds, scanning data, and video and photography taken manually and by robots and drones.
    The available data types and formats will be:

    • Point cloud in PCD, .XYZ, E57, Autodesk ReCap and .RCP formats
    • BIM information in Autodesk Revit *.RVT format
    • CAD files in STL and STEP formats
    • Radiological and physics information in CSV format
    • LiDAR scans using FARO scanners
    • Createc N-Visage radiation scanner data
    • Videos and images of sites
    • Text metadata (labels, categories, etc.)


    Scanning data already exists and will be made available in common formats such as E57.

    We want our point cloud data, gathered from 3D scanners, sensors and photogrammetry to have model interactions, annotations, etc.

  • Are you looking to use AI related techniques?
  • What are the key dates?
    • Open Call – Applications Open – 15th August
    • Open Call – Application Deadline – 24th September
    • Application feedback – by 13th October
    • Pitch Day – 25th October
    • Final Selection – by 3rd November
    • Programme Onboarding Date – w/c 11th December
    • PoC Development Start – Jan 2024
    • Programme End Date – 31st March 2024

    Dates and activities can be subject to change. Digital Catapult will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible to applicants/participants should any changes arise.

  • Who will own the Intellectual Property (IP) of the proof-of-concept developed during this project?

    Your company will own the Foreground IP (FIP) of the proof-of-concept. However, RAICo will require:

    • Full access to FIP for any purpose, with rights to sublicense to other parties, and
    • Full access to any Background IP (BIP) required to use the FIP, with rights to sublicense, but only for the purposes of the RAICo Programme

    This clause regarding access to BIP is bounded; the RAICo programme under which this programme of work falls runs until 31st March 2025. After this, such a clause would end, and any continued use of the proof-of-concept (both FIP and BIP) would require a new commercial agreement. This will offer a unique opportunity for the selected SME to demonstrate their solutions, products, and expertise to a collection of potential new clients, while also offering the chance to develop additional new IP.

  • What are the programme obligations?
    • Attend the onboarding kick-off event during the week commencing 11th December 2023 (location to be agreed during contracting).
    • Attend an initial workshop to clarify the scope of development work, ways of working and timelines, in addition to submission of a schedule of work to be undertaken.
    • Attend weekly progress meetings with the RAICo team and provide updates and demonstrations of progress.
    • Provide transparent access to development progress, data use, work remaining, and any similar information to help RAICo provide support during the weekly meetings.
    • Provide feedback on proof-of-concept development with RAICo.
    • Build a demonstrator that addresses the challenge.
    • Present the concept at a final demo day at the end of the development phase, March 2024.
    • Demonstrate the potential of the concept to users of real-world scenarios and data.
    • Show how the concept complies with regulations/requirements for implementation, and fits with wider RAICo work.
    • Submit a final report on the developed proof-of-concept and expected benefits.
    • Clearly communicate the proof-of-concept’s cost-benefits, value-for-money, and improvement to processes.
  • What are the milestones for work delivery?

    The milestones for delivery and how they attach to funding payment(s) will be left to the applicants to outline in their application; please submit a schedule of work, deliverables and payment milestones you would wish to work to if selected for this programme. Applications should include expected programme of work, schedule, and expected costs for deliverables/funding gateways, and these will be judged as part of your overall application, following the criteria for judging. Please note that during the onboarding session, the successfully selected applicant and RAICo will work together to confirm these milestones before development work begins, so there may be some requirement for small alterations.

  • Is the programme in-person or remote?

    The majority of the programme will be delivered remotely via online sessions, however we do expect to organise a small number of in-person events for:

    • Programme kick off (either at your offices or at RAICo)
    • Live final demo (RAICo Robotics Lab in West Cumbria)

Application process

  • Who will my application data be shared with?

    We only use your application information for the purposes of the programme. If information is shared outside Digital Catapult (for example, with programme partners) this will be made clear in the application form and/or programme agreement.

  • Will I be able to save my application form?

    Yes, you will be able to save it during the application process, so that you can complete it in more than one session if you need to.

  • Can I speak to someone from the FutureScope Decommissioning Data Challenge team about my applications before submitting it?

    Yes. We are holding a Q&A session every Tuesday morning during the application window. Please book a 15-minute slot here to speak to one of the FutureScope team about your application. They are intended to be informal, open, and accessible to anyone who wishes to participate in the programme, regardless of their background or experience level. They will not have an impact on the judging of your application.

  • What information is asked for in the application form?

    The application form will seek more details about your:

    • Company information including:
      • Name
      • Brief overview
      • Headquarters address
      • Website address
      • Company’s house registration number
      • Logo
    • Lead applicant name, role and email address
    • Proposed idea and technical project summary
    • Project plan and methodology
    • Finances
    • Team experience

    *Applications will be judged anonymously.

  • What’s the application process and onboarding stages?

    The process will be as follows:

    • Applicants submit their registration of interest using the form below.
    • Applicants will be automatically sent the application form via email, to be completed via our application platform.
    • Applicants must submit their application by 23:59 on Sunday 24 September.
    • Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted.
    • Shortlisted applicants will receive an invitation to pitch.
    • The participant for the programme will be chosen by a panel of expert judges and informed on Friday 3 November.
    • The successful applicant will be invited to a programme kick-off during the week commencing 11th December.
    • Proof-of-concept development to start from January 2024
  • What are the selection criteria used for applications?

    Application will be assessed against the following criteria:

    Criteria 1: Proposed Idea

    • The applicant’s idea is realistic, well-developed and demonstrates a strong vision and application to the challenge with consideration of the requirements and context.
    • The idea is innovative and original in a way that meets the challenge requirements.

    Criteria 2: Technical Project Summary

    • The applicant’s technical approach is valid and meets the technical expectations of this challenge.
    • The company demonstrates how its idea is scalable and has the potential to succeed in its full range of capabilities at a growing scale.

    Criteria 3: Project Plan and Methodology

    • All evidenced in a well thought out and feasible development roadmap.
    • The applicant clearly describes their milestones and an appropriate payment schedule.

    Criteria 4: Finances

    • The applicant shows a clear overview and explanation of the expected costs of the work to be undertaken, giving confidence that the project will be delivered within budget.

    Criteria 5: Team and Expertise

    • The team shows the relevant capabilities and technical experience needed to develop and deliver the proposed proof-of-concept.
  • How are applications selected?

    Applicants are reviewed by the Digital Catapult team and several external judges and are assessed only on the information provided in the application. Following the first screening, successful candidates will be invited to the pitch day. For further information, please see the application process.

  • If my application is not successful can I reapply for a later programme?

    Yes, you are welcome to apply for any other FutureScope programmes.

  • Will I receive feedback on my application?

    Unfortunately, because of the high volume of applications, we do not provide feedback on applications automatically. If you would like to receive feedback on your application, please send us an email stating so and we’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

  • What if I am involved in another external or Digital Catapult programme?

    Unless the FutureScope or external programme brief or agreement states otherwise, you can still take part in FutureScope programmes, as long as the timings do not cause a conflict of interest and you are eligible to participate.

    If you have been part of any previous Digital Catapult programme you are also welcome to join.

Applicant company requirements

  • What are the minimum requirements for the programme?

    In addition to meeting the selection criteria for this programme, you will need to be able to show that:

    • Your company is eligible to receive £40,000 in funding.
    • Your company has a UK business bank account for any payments to be made.
    • Your company is 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.
    • Your company has a documented quality control process.
    • Applicants must have demonstrable skills and expertise required to develop solutions to meet the challenge.
    • Applicants must be available for an on-site demonstration of the PoC at the end of the development phase in March 2024 (date to be confirmed).

    Although there is no minimum size of team, the proof-of-concept ideas will be evaluated for feasibility against the size and experience of the team.

  • Will this programme use some of my state-aid allowance?

    No, this programme does not fall under state-aid allowance due to the commercial nature of the project, and the fact the funding will come direct from the contracting body (UKAEA).

  • Do I need to have Cyber Essentials certification?

    Cyber Essentials is not a requirement for this project as there is no data processing in scope for its requirement under the Cabinet Office PPN.

  • Will I need to abide by any Limitation of Liability clauses?

    The successful applicant will need to enter into an agreement with the UKAEA directly, which will include a Limitation of Liability clause. In the event of any damages caused to UKAEA as a result of work developing and/or testing this proof-of-concept, liability costs will be incurred, up to 200% of the value of the project. Public Liability is capped at 200% of the contract value.

  • Will I need to sign an NDA?

    The need for an NDA will be determined by project based on whether or not confidential information will be released as part of the competition phase. If not, the contract will cover confidentiality for the successful supplier. Note, you may need to consider whether there is any information subject to export controls. If certain information is required for this project but you are not happy signing an NDA, synthetic data can be used instead.

  • Who will I be contracting with?

    The successfully selected company will enter into a contract with UKAEA, under a NEC4 professional services contract (a copy of which can be provided upon request)

Q&A Webinar

If you are interested in the Decommissioning Data Challenge and would like to learn more about the programme, please watch our recorded webinar to hear more about:

  • The programme, its goals, and ambitions.
  • What resources and support are offered.
  • The organisations and people involved.
FutureScope is delivered by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology.