Funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund as part of the Digital Catapult Smart Nano Accelerator Programme, this challenge led accelerator programme pathway will offer participants the chance to:

  • Learn from and work alongside experts in nano-photonics, 5G, internet of things (IoT), distributed systems (such as blockchain), artificial intelligence and immersive technologies (including augmented and virtual reality.)
  • Receive training in innovation practice and smart technologies.
  • Gain access to testbeds and labs such as our 5G and immersive testbeds
  • Benefit from a dedicated learning facilitator to guide them through the accelerator process. 
  • Scope out the potential advanced technology solution to a challenge identified by Seagate Technology
  • The opportunity to work alongside industry leader Seagate Technology.
  • The chance to apply and win £75,000 funded by Techstart Ventures.

During the 16 week programme, participants will be supported by Digital Catapult’s innovation and technology team on their PoC journey, including access to 1-2-1 mentoring and testbeds. The companies will also have the opportunity to apply and pitch for the £75,000 in grant funding by Techstart Ventures.

At the end of the 16 week period, having created a proposal for a solution to address the specific business challenge identified by Seagate or the generic open challenge, participants will take part in a Demo Day in May 2024 to present this PoC to industry experts and peers.

The applications will be judged by a panel, and the winner of the £75,000 will be announced.

Applications close at 23:59 on 3rd December 2023.

Benefits and support

The Manufacturing Innovation Challenge offers the following benefits to Northern Ireland companies:

Training across the advanced digital technology stack

Training in photonics, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, their industrial application, use cases and market potential.

Access to expertise

Global experts in photonics, the internet of things (IoT) and data science

Innovation workshops

Training in innovation methodologies and tools, as well as business challenge and opportunity mapping.

Peer and industry networking

Networking and learning opportunities from peers in the same and similar fields

Who should apply?

This offering is designed for manufacturing startups, small and medium enterprises and corporates based in Northern Ireland.

It will be of relevance to those with an interest in learning about, adopting or expanding the use of advanced digital technologies to address specific business challenges.

The initiative would also be of benefit to companies adjacent to manufacturing – for example, supply chain, logistics.

Please note that the programme requires at a minimum the attendance of two people per company at each session).

Why get involved?

  • Participants will gain unique access to 5G and Immersive testbed facilities to help them build and test proof of concepts
  • Work with technologists in smart technologies including, 5G, internet of things (IoT), A.I  and Photonics.
  • Working alongside facilitators in innovation practice, showcasing innovation principles and methodologies.
  • Networking opportunities with peers, potential collaborators and funders.
  • Participants will have 4 months of support to develop a PoC and the potential to trial with a potential future customer.
  • On completion of the programme, the participating Startups/SMEs will have the chance to apply for £75,000, funded by Techstart Ventures to continue to develop the PoC.

The time commitment for participants will be up to 40 hours over the 16 weeks (Jan 2024 – April 2024).

This will include attending masterclasses, innovation support and 1-2-1 mentoring from technologists. The programme will be hybrid, with physical access to testbeds required.

Participation in the initiative is free and funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund.

Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they meet De minimis state aid rules for receipt of the additional grant funding of £75,000 from Techstart Ventures.

Applications close 3rd December 2023.

Ready to apply?

Please note you will have to create an account to complete your application.

FutureScope is delivered by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology.