Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will invest up to £800,000 to fund early-stage, human-centred design projects through the Audience of the Future Challenge Fund (AotF).

The aim of this competition is to support early-stage projects to generate ideas that meet customer needs, using research and human-centred design principles.

Your proposal must deliver well-defined, user-validated ideas ready for further technical research and development (R&D) and discover insights about the problem space, consumer motivations and behaviours.

Projects must include activities or work packages that:

  • discover customer perceptions, motivations, and behaviour
  • define the problem statement and pinpoint the characteristics necessary to make any solution desirable and fit for purpose
  • deliver clearly communicated ideas that have been validated through fast, low-cost prototyping and user-testing and are ready for further technical R&D

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £50,000
  • start by 1 January 2022
  • end by 31 March 2022
  • last between 2 and 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) if you want to work on the project alone, or a business of any size working with at least one UK registered SME partner. Only SMEs can work alone on projects, and collaborations must include at least one SME.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not-for-profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications. If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

This competition is for early-stage projects that use customer research to generate ideas that meet customer needs. Fast, low-cost prototyping and user testing of those ideas is also within scope.

Your project must deliver well-defined, user-validated ideas ready for further technical research and development (R&D).You must aim to discover insights about the problem space, consumer motivations and behaviours.

Your project must use established human-centred design principles in developing your idea. for example, the Design Council’s ‘double diamond’ process.

Projects must include activities or work packages that:

  • discover customer perceptions, motivations, and behaviour
  • define the problem statement and pinpoint the characteristics necessary to make any solution desirable and fit for purpose
  • deliver clearly communicated ideas that have been validated through fast, low-cost prototyping and user-testing and are ready for further technical R&D

We will fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of themes, technologies and potential markets.

Specific themes

Projects must explore innovation opportunities in one or more of the following themes:

Designing for Net Zero

  • behaviour-change, by exploring new ways of living and working in cities, homes, and offices
  • storytelling, using the power of creativity to tell different stories about environmental impact and net zero
  • world-building, using extended reality (XR) to imagine different futures through which to engage multiple-actors

Design for Build Back Better

  • new products, services, or experiences, that support live venues and performance spaces, in the creation and delivery of immersive content
  • methods, processes and adaptations, for hybrid revenue streams post Covid-19
  • products, services, or technologies, which support distributed audiences and multichannel revenue models
  • content delivery systems, that allow audiences to feel connected and part of a shared community experience

Design for Cross Sector Immersive Projects

  • enable the development of new products and services by applying immersive and associated technologies developed for the creative industries and then applied in other industrial sectors
  • you can include but are not limited to, design prototyping studies for products, services and experiences in healthcare, education, mobility, transport, energy, or manufacturing

An online briefing event will be held at 2pm on Wednesday 1st September: click here for the joining link for the Zoom webinar.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Asha Easton at KTN.