£12m of RDI funding available for UK service industries transformation

Featuring Richard Wadman | 12th June, 2018

On 7 June 2018, I was forwarded details of the latest funding competition launch under the Industrial Challenge Fund, with the covering text, “An interesting one for you guys Richard”.


On looking at the competition details, I would have to interpret “interesting” along the lines of the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”, as UK Research and Innovation has up to £12 million to invest in projects that look at ways of applying artificial intelligence (AI) and data technologies to improve service industries. They are focusing on three specific sectors:

  • accountancy
  • insurance
  • legal services

The funding is part of “next-generation services challenge, a £20 million fund to develop novel products and services that will transform the UK’s services industries” and specifically in this announcement it is stated:

  • Industries such as accountancy, insurance and legal services face competition from overseas. There are also challenges including identifying and preventing fraud, meeting audit requirements, assessing risk and reviewing large quantities of text.
  • Projects should show how they would address challenges that could delay or adversely impact adoption. This includes issues of ethics, privacy, bias and transparency.
  • Themes they are particularly interested in include machine-supported decision-making, human concepts such as reasonableness and justice in AI, and combining social science with science and engineering.

The Competitions

There are two competitions in this area which I have sought to summarise below:

Large consortia projects Small projects
Opens 18 June 2018 18 June 2018
Deadline 15 August 2018 (mid-day) 15 August 2018 (mid-day)
Projects to be led by Business, charity, public sector organisation or a research organisation Business
Projects to include SME SME
Projects must cover More than one of the target service areas and include regulators, users, service providers and technology providers
Total project costs and maximum intervention rate £2m to £4m (70%) Up to £400k (projects with a cost > £200k must be collaborative)
Projects to last (max) Up to 2.5 years One to two years
Projects to start and finish 1 December 2018; 31 March 2021
More details Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (large consortia strand) Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (small projects strand)

Next steps

As indicated above, more details on each of the competitions can be found via the links, or via the announcement itself.

If you feel you have a project that fits the criteria but you need a research organisation, for example, to collaborate with, please contact me and I will see if the gentleman who forwarded the announcement (he works for a local university) has any contacts who can assist.

Industrial Challenge Fund

As noted at the beginning of my blog post, this competition is part of the Industrial Challenge Fund – expect many more blog posts on this over the next few months, and I understand my colleague Andrew James is working on a couple of innovation themed breakfast briefings that I am sure will mention/heavily feature the Industrial Challenge Fund.

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