Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is working with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to invest up to £2 million in feasibility studies for innovation in the dissemination and application of resilient time, frequency and synchronisation (TFS).

The key areas for development are:

  • distribution
  • trust, assurance and security
  • resilience

The aim of this competition is to:

  • support and enable business-led innovation across the UK supply chain in resilient TFS for the development of products, services and end user applications
  • develop a TFS ecosystem and capability for relevant industries and critical national infrastructure
  • disrupt and create new markets to improve the provision of TFS

Your proposal must deliver a feasibility study for an innovative development and demonstrate a route to market.

This is the first of two associated competitions funded from the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) as part of the National Timing Centre programme, led by NPL. The total programme budget for funding business-led innovation is £6.7 million. The second competition will offer the opportunity for demonstration projects.

This call is for feasibility projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research. You can include some market research in your project but not exclusively.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £250,000
  • end by 31 May 2022
  • last between 4 and 6 months

Projects can start from 1 October 2021.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

Academic institutions and research organisations cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered business, research organisation, research and technology organisation (RTO), academic institution, public sector organisation or charity, and work and exploit the results in the UK.

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading an application, they can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

The aim of this competition is to:

  • support and enable industry-led innovation across the UK supply chain in resilient time, frequency, and synchronisation (TFS), for the development of products, services, and end user applications
  • develop a TFS ecosystem and capability for relevant industries and critical national infrastructure
  • disrupt and create new markets to improve the provision of TFS

Your project must deliver a feasibility study for an innovative development and demonstrate a route to market.

Projects must be focused on one or more of these development areas relating to the dissemination of TFS:

  • products
  • services
  • protocols and algorithms
  • standards

We are looking for your projects to be scalable, geographically or across applications.

Your project should lead to the following types of impact for the UK:

  • economic, including new revenue, cost savings, other economic impacts
  • national capability in TFS

During the project, NPL can provide up to 12 hours of free consultancy and free access to highly accurate and traceable time and frequency signals from four locations in the south-east of England. These include an experimental test facility and validation and characterisation capabilities.

Example sectors include but are not limited to, telecommunications, energy, autonomy, finance, smart factories, sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT), broadcast, health, space, and transport including rail, road, aviation, maritime.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

Distribution

Your project must enable end users to have access to improved time or frequency signals.

You must include one or more of the following:

  • dissemination to multiple users
  • scalability
  • accessibility (geography)
  • ubiquity and availability, including rural and GNSS denied locations

For example, developments could include scalability to users at the edge of networks or to those currently without access.

Trust, assurance and security

Your project must contribute to the trust, assurance and security of time or frequency signals from the source to the end user (or a defined subset of this path).

You must include one or more of the following:

  • integrity
  • accuracy (absolute time value at the end user compared to the traceable source)
  • confidence in end-to-end transmission
  • validation

This could, for example, relate to audit and certification of time signals at various levels of accuracy or signal integrity when transferring time signals over distances and mediums. Algorithms and protocols, especially those that increase the integrity of timing signals, are also in scope.

Resilience

Your project must contribute to the resilience of the time dissemination supply chain in one or more of the following:

  • availability (continuity of signal)
  • redundancy and holdover
  • alerting and monitoring

An online briefing event will be held from 10am to 5pm on Tuesday 20th April 2021: click here to register to attend.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact KTN’s Bob Cockshott, KTM for Position, Navigation and Timing.