The Programme

Delivered by Digital Catapult, as part of the FutureScope cross-technology acceleration programme, the Experiment track allows companies to trial new technologies to experimenting with the art of the possible, this programme aims to provide you with the opportunity to discover and push the limits of your tech capabilities.

This call relates to the FutureScope Manufacturing Innovation Challenge  (“Programme”), which gives the opportunity for startups/SMEs the chance to solve an open challenge (“Open Challenge”) or a manufacturing challenge identified by Seagate Technology (“Seagate Challenge”). The startups/SMEs will work towards building a Proof of Concept (“PoC”) to solve this challenge, with support from Digital Catapult in the form of a 4 month accelerator. The companies will also have the opportunity to apply and win £75,000 grant funding from Techstart Ventures.

The Programme provides tools, techniques, resources and support in various aspects of developing PoCs, in technology areas such as IoT, 5G and photonics. The programme will also include workshops and webinars with 1-2-1 access to innovation teams and technologists across multiple fields such as IoT, 5G, Photonics.

By the end of the 4 month programme, the applicants will have a better idea of building a PoC to solve the Seagate Challenge or the Open Challenge. The programme participants (of either the Open Challenge or the Seagate Challenge) will have the opportunity to apply for and pitch their PoC to win £75,000 in grant funding from Techstart Ventures (“Techstart Ventures Funding”).

Techstart Ventures is a leading investor of seed capital across Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are recognised as a trusted partner to ambitious founders on their journey to success. Please note, the application process for the Techstart Ventures Funding is separate to the Programme application and will be managed solely by Techstart Ventures. An application to the Programme does not constitute an application for the Techstart Ventures Funding. IMPORTANT: The Techstart Ventures Funding is only available to companies registered in Northern Ireland.

The process for awarding the Techstart Ventures Funding will be in the form of arrears, therefore successful applicants will be reimbursed for appropriate expenditure upon submission of proof that the money has been spent in accordance with the letter of offer, which will be managed by Techstart Ventures directly.

The Challenges:

  1. Seagate Challenge

Seagate Technology has been a world leader in data storage and management solutions for 40 years.  The company crafts the datasphere, helping to maximise humanity’s potential by innovating world-class, precision-engineered data management solutions with a focus on sustainable partnerships.  Seagate’s Springtown facility is operational for over 25 years and is recognised as one of the foremost 200mm wafer fabrication plants in the world. The site has grown from an initial charter of world class manufacturing in the first decade of operations to adding development and product launch capabilities in the last ten years. The facility employs over 1,600 staff and continues to develop leading community and academic partnerships.
To ensure that Seagate continues to remain a world leader, Innovation and R&D are integral parts of the manufacturing process. Seagate believes using novel technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Immersive (XR), will be critical for ensuring optimal efficiency and control of manufacturing processes. For this challenge, the focus is on:

  • Using immersive technology to aid the manufacturing process, to create improvements in efficiency, quality and/or health and safety.

Manufacturers are now seeing the benefits that immersive technology can offer in an industrial environment. From design and visualisation, right through to enhanced worker guidance and training during the production process. New and improved ways of using technologies across business lines are constantly being piloted and deployed across the industry.

The projects could explore some of the following areas, this list is illustrative not exhaustive:

  • Use of AR and VR on the assembly line.
  • Design and visualisation of products or processes.
  • New workforce recruitment, training and knowledge retention.
  • Ongoing maintenance, error detection and quality assurance.
  1. Open Challenge

If the Industry Partner led challenges from Seagate Technology do not address your focus or current R&D priorities please apply to the Open Challenge option of this call. We encourage businesses to apply to this call with areas of research and development (R&D) that are relevant for your roadmap.

The following are examples of challenges you may wish to develop a solution for but this list is not intended to be exhaustive:

  • Connect legacy devices/machinery to a 5G network.
  • Improve accessibility and visualisation of manufacturing data.
  • Address questions of sustainability and netzero in the production process.
  • Using a 5G network for asset tracking throughout a manufacturing facility.
  • Predictive maintenance of machinery and tooling using AI.
  • The use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) for carrying goods that can be summoned and tracked.

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 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 and 5G/Future Networks.

The 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 have/will be chosen based on their experience and expertise. The Programme Judges are as follows:

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

 Programme Collaboration Partner Judges: A number of Programme Collaboration Partner Judges, which include Seagate Technology (Ireland) a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands and registered as a foreign company in Northern Ireland with registered number NF003090 with registered branch address: 1 Disc Drive, Londonderry, Springtown Industrial Estate , Northern Ireland, BT48 0BF (“Seagate Technology”), and Techstart Ventures LLP (incorporated in Northern Ireland under company number NC001436 with registered address  3rd Floor 21 Talbot Street, Belfast, County Antrim, BT1 2LD (“Techstart Ventures”) (“Programme Collaboration Partners”), will help judge the applications.

The Programme Partners

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

  • Seagate Technology
  • Techstart Ventures

(“Programme Collaboration Partners”).

During the Programme, the Programme Collaboration Partners may support the Programme through delivery of relevant workshops and hosting office hours.

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 Participation Agreement).


Participants on the Programme will receive the following benefits:

  • Regular interactions with the Digital Catapult team, industry experts, corporate partners and growth coaches to assess, iterate and accelerate their business processes, and expand their network of peers, investors and customers.
  • Diagnostic sessions with their leadership team to determine current technological, manufacturing, commercial and strategic needs.
  • Workshops to develop and improve the understanding of smart technologies and innovation practice.
  • Peer support from other participants on the Programme, sharing learnings and insights gained from the Programme as well as previous expertise.
  • A showcase during which Participants will present to an invited audience of manufacturing stakeholders, partners and industry representatives
  • Access up to 36 hours of support across Nanotechnology, Photonics, Internet of Things, 5G, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Distributed Systems, and Innovation Practice.
  • Upon successful completion of the Project, the opportunity to join the Digital Catapult Alumni Network, which keeps them informed of opportunities and relevant updates from the Digital Catapult, and which provides additional opportunities to engage with Digital Catapult and other Alumni.
  • Opportunity to apply for and win £75,000 in funding awarded by Techstart Ventures to one company.


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

  • Attend a minimum of 10 sessions, held in person. Events are hosted at Ormeau Baths, Belfast, but offsite visits may be organised, which will be held in Northern Ireland.
  • Comply with all relevant health and safety and/or similar instruction notified to you when attending sites during the course of the Programme, including at our Programme Collaboration Partner’s sites.
  • Deliver a demo day presentation and report a roadmap to implement a smart technology within their organisation.
  • Participant agrees to be visibly (name, logo and photograph) associated with the Programme, whilst on 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.
  • Participants agree for photographs to be taken and media to be shared throughout the programme.


4.1 Minimum Requirements

  • Applicants must be working in or adjacent to the UK Manufacturing Sector.
  • Applicants must be eligible to receive a maximum amount of £79,830 (equivalent to €93,069.86) in State Assistance made up of £00 from Digital Catapult for your participation in the Programme and £75,000.00 from TechStart Ventures if successful in your separate application for the Techstart Ventures Funding (see section 8.2 below for further details on State Assistance).
  • 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 have the ability to develop solutions enabled by at least one of the technologies from the Advanced Digital Technology Stack: Artificial Intelligence, Immersive, Internet of Things, Distributed Ledger Technologies and 5G/Future Networks.
  • If you wish to apply for the TechStart Ventures Funding then your company must be registered in Northern Ireland.

4.2 What we’re looking for

This programme is primarily aimed at  Northern Ireland registered Startups/SMEs that can clearly prove how their business is capable of developing a PoC to solve the challenge identified by Seagate Technology.


  • Open Call – Applications Open: 25th September 2023
  • Open Call – Application Deadline: 5th November 2023
  • Judging Complete: 24th November 2023
  • Intended notification of all Applicants: 27 November 2023
  • Intended public announcement of successful Participants: 11th December 2023
  • Programme:
    • Start Date: 24th January 2024
    • End Date: 10th April 2024


6.1 What information should my Progamme application contain?

Applicants must answer all required questions in the full online application form which is hosted on Skipso see section 6.4.

Please note, this application is in reference to the Programme only. The application process for the Techstart Ventures Funding is separate to the Programme application. An application to the Programme does not constitute an application for the Techstart Ventures Funding.


6.2 Who will see my application?

The following people will see your Programme 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 on the Programme.

Programme Collaboration Partner Judges: will see your full application except for your company name and personal information fields.

6.3 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 Programme Partners for the purpose of assessing the Applications and for the provision of benefits to the Participants on the Programme, as set out in these Competition Terms.


6.4 Submitting your Programme application

You must submit your application via the Skipso Platform (“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 [email protected] with the subject ”Manufacturing Innovation Challenge Application Submission”.


6.5  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 [email protected]. If you have specific queries on our use of your Survey data (including a request to delete your Survey data), please contact us at [email protected].


7.1 Qualification

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

7.2 Selection process

All qualifying applications will be reviewed and scored by the Programme Judging panel. The highest ranked Applicants will be accepted onto the Programme.

7.3 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 3 criteria upon which applicants will be assessed:

  • Relevance of Proposed Idea

How is the idea relevant to the challenge.

  • Strength and Originality

The idea presents an innovative solution to the challenge.

  • Team Expertise

The team is equipped with the appropriate technology and business skills, and has a good track record to deliver the proposed solution within 16 weeks.

  • Feasibility and Viability

The idea addresses one of the challenges, is relevant to the programme theme and is feasible within the budget and timescale of the call.

  • Impact and Development Plan

The proposal can demonstrate an ambition for positive impact in the region and is likely to be suitable for further development after the programme.

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.

7.4 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’.

7.5 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.


8.1 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.

8.2 State Assistance

 This Programme has been assessed as potentially providing £79,830 (equivalent to €93,069.86) for Participants.

The breakdown for state aid is as follows,
– Digital Catapult Innovation Programme is £4830.00
– Techstart Grant Funding is £75,000.00

State Assistance provided by Digital Catapult:

Participants are receiving the grant pursuant to Special Drawing Rights (aka minimal financial assistance), or to the extent applicable under the NI 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 a Participant (including any associated companies e.g. subsidiaries), originating from a United Kingdom source, must not exceed £315,000 for GB companies, and €200,000 (approximately £165,000) for Northern Ireland Companies (or any company subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol) in aggregate across the Participant’s current fiscal year (as at the Agreement Date) and the previous two fiscal years.

Before signing the Programme Agreement, Applicants will be asked to sign a declaration confirming that you are eligible to receive the State Assistance.

State Assistance provided by Techstart Ventures

Please note this funding is only available for Northern Ireland incorporated companies.

The Techstart Ventures Funding will either be provided under (i) de minimis aid regulations (please see above section for details) or (ii) by “Aid for Start-Ups” (per Article 22 of European Commission’s General Block Exemption Regulation). If your company meets the following criteria, then State Assistance will be provided through Aid for Start Ups:

  • younger than 5 years old;
  • has less than 50 employees
  • it has not taken over the activity of another enterprise;
  • it has not yet distributed profits; AND
  • it has not been formed through a merger.

all other companies will receive State Assistance by virtue of de minimis regulations.

8.3 Applicants

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

8.4 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.

8.5 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.

8.6 Previous Applications

Catapult reserves the right to either (i) reassess an application from a previous competition (together with information gained from an update meeting), or (ii) accept as a successful applicant an organisation that was previously successful in a previous competition, but whose participation was deferred to a later Programme.

8.7 Personal Data

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

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 the respective privacy policies: Digital Catapult ( https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/legal/privacy-policy/)

8.8 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.

8.9 Participant Programmes

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


9.1 Data Retention

Digital Catapult will store your application and the scoring it has received for the entire duration of the Programme.  If you are a successful Applicant, we shall also store your Application for a period of up to five (5) 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.

9.2 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 on 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.

9.3 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, licenses, 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.

9.4 Disclaimers

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 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.

Nothing in these Competition Terms shall limit or exclude any liability for fraud.

9.5 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.

Digital Catapult and the Applicant agree that they have not relied on any statement,

representation, assurance or warranty (whether made innocently or negligently) that is not set

out in these Competition Terms. Digital Catapult and the Applicant agree that they shall have

no claim for innocent or negligent misrepresentation or negligent misstatement based on any

statement in these Competition Terms.

9.6 Jurisdiction

These Competition Terms are governed by English law.

Any dispute arising out of or in connection with these Competition Terms, including any question regarding their existence, validity or termination, shall be referred to and finally resolved by arbitration under the London Court of International Arbitration Rules, which Rules are deemed to be incorporated by reference into this clause.

The number of arbitrators shall be one.

The seat, or legal place, of arbitration shall be London.

The language to be used in the arbitral proceedings shall be English.

The physical location of the arbitration shall be London, where Digital Catapult is defending proceedings, and either London or Belfast where the Participant is defending proceedings, as elected by the Participant.

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