The COVID-19 outbreak has deeply affected communities, society and individuals, whether the effects are on physical or mental health, economic impact, loss of jobs and income, living standards and the increased pressure on medical and social services.

To aid a recovery, Welsh Government and the SBRI Centre of Excellence will fund organisations to develop new products or services that will support our long term health and wellbeing with a focus on better lives closer to home. Your solution must help communities, businesses or the public sector adapt to the ongoing threats of COVID-19 and progress priorities contained in the Welsh Government Prosperity for All: Economic Action Plan.

Applications are invited to deliver rapid feasibility study research and development (R&D) projects, with funding available up to £50,000, including VAT. With an envelope of £250k, we expect to fund up to 5 projects in total (or more if budget permits) and the successful projects must commence delivery in January 2021 and complete by end of March 2021.

The Welsh Government wants to identify and support projects that will support better lives closer to home and align with the following key themes:

  • Build Back Green – Enabling businesses and communities to adapt to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 with a focus on a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Wales. We are looking for solutions that enable people to continue to work closer to home, considering accessibility and safety whilst maintaining a sense of community and connection. Examples might be enabling communities to support a circular economy, reducing waste or increasing the efficient use of existing resources, or alternative uses for buildings, or addressing high levels of traffic or industrial emissions.
  • Sustainability and security of supply chains – Supporting place-based and needs-led business supply chains that secure jobs and safeguard against further supply chain disruptions so that our communities have access to healthy food or decrease food poverty, especially those exploring low-carbon or carbon-neutral methods with a focus on affordability and continuity of supply. This may include innovative growing methods, reducing/repurposing of waste and logistics.
  • Supporting mental and physical wellbeing for all generations – New products and services addressing mental health, access to care, or the resilience of communities. Projects might tackle greater access to resources in the community which support greater wellbeing, or increase the accessibility of active travel; solutions that may reduce the impact of winter confinement on individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing. Others might increase access to cultural experiences, supporting the creative industries so severely impacted by COVID-19, and ensuring our communities continue to value the arts, culture and natural environment that Wales is so well-known for.

The key focus will be on demonstrating feasibility, affordability and scalability of solutions that can be delivered at pace. We are looking to test new and emerging innovations via small-scale trials, creating an evidence base for further development and scale, considering affordability and practicality.

To lead a project, you can be an organisation of any size but must be able to work in Wales/with Welsh lead customers under prevailing COVID restrictions at the time of award. Academic institutions and registered charities can apply but must demonstrate a route to market, including a plan to commercialise the results.

Your organisation must work with identified potential future customers, throughout Phases 1 and 2. The potential customer can be a public sector organisation looking to tackle such a challenge but they must be based in Wales. Challenge applications should detail how you will work together to understand requirements and explore the feasibility of your proposal.

Innovative solutions could:

  • Accelerate the adoption of emerging digital and smart technology to support the mental wellbeing of people within their communities;
  • Accelerate decarbonisation, reducing the impact of emissions on health;
  • Increase access and security of vital products and services, especially to affordable and sustainable food, tackling the impacts of food poverty;
  • Support quality jobs closer to home, reducing unemployment or the need to commute;
  • Develop a place-based solution, showing an awareness of existing strengths within communities and outlining how the project will build on those strengths;
  • Encourage long term behavioural change, enabling people to play an active role in their own wellbeing
  • Open date: 4th November 2020
  • Briefing event: 12th November 2020
  • Deadline date for applications: 12:00 Noon GMT 27th November 2020
  • Meet and greet with suppliers’: 7th December 2020
  • Decision Release: 11th December 2020
  • Phase 1 contracts awarded and feedback provided: 11th December 2020
  • Feedback: 14th December 2020
  • Projects commence: 4th January 2021
  • Projects complete: 29th March 2021

To register your interest for the virtual Briefing Event held on 12th November 2020 at 10am-11am, click here.