SME Collaborative Research Programme
GUIDANCE NOTES FOR APPLICANTS
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SCoRe application form A1 (pdf)
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SCoRe application form A2 (word)
What is SCORE?
The SCORE programme is designed to support R&D projects jointly undertaken between public sector research bodies (such as Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), Research Institutes, NHS Trusts) and Scottish SMEs. Under this scheme, an SME or group of SMEs with a specific technical problem or need can assign a significant part of the required scientific and technological research to a public sector research body.
The key objectives for the new programme are:
- to increase the competitiveness of SMEs through support for product or process development;
- to encourage increased co-operation and the creation of new linkages between enterprises and research organisations;
- to help effect wealth creation from the science base; and
- to provide a framework for collaborative research projects involving SMEs across a wide range of sectors.
Financial support is available at 50% of eligible project costs to eligible partnerships in order to undertake an R&D project, up to a maximum grant of 35,000 per project. The research base partner(s) must incur and defray at least 40% of the total eligible costs for research and innovation-related activities of the project and it is expected that they will receive 100% of their total eligible costs.
Who is Eligible?
For a partnership to be eligible for support, it must contain, at least:
- one Scottish-based SME; and
- one public sector research body (e.g. Higher Education Institute (HEI), Research Institute or NHS Trust).
The lead partner on the SCORE project should be a Scottish-based SME and the offer of grant will be made to the lead partner. The SCORE Programme uses the EC definition of a small or medium-sized enterprise, given below, in order to determine eligibility for the scheme.
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
- Fewer than 250 employees
- Annual turnover not exceeding €40 million, or
- Annual balance sheet total not exceeding €27 million
- Fewer than 50 employees
- Annual turnover not exceeding €7 million, or
- Annual balance sheet total not exceeding €5 million
Independent Enterprise - less than 25% of capital is owned by one enterprise, or jointly by several enterprises outwith the SME definition. This may be exceeded, in some circumstances, where an enterprise is held by a public investment corporation, venture capital company or institutional investors; or where it is not possible to determine who holds the capital.
It is expected that public sector research partners will, in the main, be located in Scotland. Other organisations may participate in projects in order to fulfil specific roles, if required by the core partners, although they will not qualify to receive grant support as a lead partner. A number of public sector research organisations are establishing spin-off companies to secure commercial exploitation of research work and these companies would be eligible to participate in the scheme.
What Type of Projects can be Funded?
Most technologies are eligible but defence projects cannot be assisted, nor can projects which are affected by state aid restrictions. Certain industry sectors have restrictions on state aid for R&D under the provisions of the Treaty of Rome (Articles 92 and 93). The industries affected include coal and steel, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, synthetic fibres, shipbuilding, motor vehicles and transport, and food and drink manufacturing. You should contact the SCORE Programme Executive if you are uncertain whether these restrictions could affect your project.
The programme will provide funding for pre-competitive development activities in R&D. The definition of which is as follows:
"the implementation of the results of industrial research for the development of new, altered or improved products, processes or services, including the creation of a pre-production prototype which could not be used commercially. It can also include the conceptual formulation and design of products, processes or services and initial demonstration or pilot projects providing that they cannot be converted or used for industrial applications or commercial exploitation. It does not include the routine or periodic changes made to products, production lines, manufacturing processes, even if such changes may represent improvements".
Fundamental research activities will not be supported under the scheme.
To be eligible for support projects must be a minimum duration of 6 months and maximum of 18 months.
What are the Evaluation Criteria?
Grant awards will be made at the discretion of the Scottish Executive. The appraisal procedure will be conducted with due regard for commercial confidentiality.
All projects must meet the minimum eligibility criteria of:
- partnership containing at least one Scottish-based SME and one public sector research body
- innovative pre-competitive research towards an identified commercial goal.
In addition, all projects must demonstrate that they meet the following assessment criteria:
SME Benefit and Involvement
Projects must clearly be for the benefit of the SME participants, meet an identified business need and show a genuine involvement of all partners. An indication of this can be given by the level of financial support by each partner and by a statement of the relevance of the projects to the SME partner(s) business plans.
The proposal must identify the market or economic need for the project and state clearly how the results will be exploited. Any existing market information will be advantageous and proposals should state how this market knowledge will be extended (either within the project or alongside it).
Projects must be pre-competitive and therefore the results should not generate commercial income during the project lifetime.
Projects must show a reasonable level of innovation and proposals should demonstrate the merits of each of the partners involved in the project and their abilities to undertake the proposed work. Each partner should have a clearly defined role. In addition to the main partners, any other organisation can be included provided their role is justified and the project can still be shown to be for the benefit of the SME partner(s).
Need for Grant Support
Applicants must demonstrate additionality i.e. that the proposed project would not have gone ahead without the grant, or would have gone ahead on a significantly longer timescale, on a smaller scale or have been of a significantly lower quality. A project will not receive support from this programme if it has already been funded using other public funds or where the project has started prior to approval of grant assistance.
Account will also be taken of the wider impact or implications of projects to society e.g. factors such as environmental impact.
How to Apply
Your fully completed application should include:
1) The completed application form A1 - this should be completed by the lead partner on the project in consultation with collaborating partners. This form contains the basic information relating to your consortium and project and is used as a quick check on the eligibility and suitability of your project.
2) A completed application form A2 for each partner (including the lead partner).
All sections of both forms (A1 & A2) should be completed (apart from Section 1c of Form A2 which should be completed by SME participants only and Section 2b which should be completed by the lead partner only) and the form signed and dated by an authorised signatory.
3) A detailed project proposal (including a full breakdown of eligible project costs) - see "What should the Project Proposal Include?" for guidance on how this should be presented and the type of project information required.
4) The last two years' audited accounts for company partners - if these are more than 6 months old at the date of application, you must also supply your unaudited or management accounts.
Prior to any payment of grant:
5) Collaboration agreement signed by all partners - the collaboration agreement formalises "who supplies what" to the project, "who does what" during the project, and "who owns what" at the end of the project. The collaboration agreement should also set out the partners' plans for the ownership, protection and exploitation of intellectual property. Until a collaboration agreement has been signed by all participants and returned to the Programme Executive, grant payments cannot be made.
What should the Project Proposal Include?
The description should be prepared jointly and agreed by all project partners. The total length should be approx. 10 pages and should include the following:
1. Project Background (approx. 3 pages)
1.1 Project Objectives
- What is the motivation for the project, especially from the point of view of the SME partners?
- What will be the specific technical outcome (e.g. a new product/process, overcoming a technical problem)?
- What are the partnership's objectives in doing this project?
1.2 State of the Art and Degree of Innovation
- What existing knowledge is available as an input to the project - either from the partnership or others?
- What is the innovative aspect of the work to be done?
- Give the estimated time to market and state any further development work that will need to be done once the project is completed to achieve exploitation.
1.4 Need for Grant Support
- What is the technical risk associated with carrying out this work?
- Why is grant support justified rather than commercial finance?
- Give details of other sources of finance sought for the project and outcome.
2. Project Description (approx. 4 pages)
2.1 Project Work Programme
- Describe the general technical approach to be adopted and the main problems to be solved.
- Identify the main tasks or work packages to be completed and then for each task, state the starting point, the expected achievements and deliverables, the technical work to be done, when and by whom.
- Provide a Gantt chart covering the period of the project.
- Provide a table summarising the project deliverables with associated timings.
2.2 Project Management
- Detail the arrangements that will be in place
to manage the project. This should include the relevant experience of the project manager, the management structure, methods of reporting, monitoring progress and resolving difficulties.
3. Commercial Potential & Exploitation (approx. 2 pages)
3.1 Market Need and Economic Justification
- How is the project relevant to the industrial sector(s)?
- How will the results impact on the market?
- What is the total size of the potential market?
- Refer to any market surveys of relevance.
3.2 Exploitation and IPR
- State the background intellectual property or know how that is to be brought to the project by the partners.
- Indicate the exploitable results of the project.
- State how they will be protected and exploited.
4. Details of the Partnership (approx. 1 page and 1/ 2 page per partner)
4.1 Structure of the Partnership
- Give an overview of the consortium, indicating the role of each partner and the reason for including them in the partnership.
4.2 Individual Partner Description
- For each partner, state their motivation for participating in the project and their role in the research project.
- For research base partners, describe the relevant experience and ability to do the research work.
- For SME or other partners, state the business benefit that the project is expected to bring and show how they will support the work of the research base partner(s).
5. Detailed Breakdown of Project Costs (see guidance below)
What Project Costs are Eligible?
Projects will be funded at 50% of net total eligible project costs (of which an element may be classed as de minimus aid). Total eligible project costs are not usually expected to exceed 70,000.
Match funding for the project should be provided by the SME partner(s). Project costs will be split between partners, depending on the work tasks to be done. However, it is expected that a reasonable proportion of the costs (at least 40%) will be incurred and defrayed by the public sector research body.
Note: No business partner in the consortium will receive grant payment in excess of 50% of their contribution to eligible project costs.
Use the table of costs provided in Section 7 of Application Form A1 as a guide to which costs are eligible, but also list any other costs which you feel should be considered. Contributions in-kind are not eligible for funding under the SCORE Programme as all costs included in the estimates must actually be incurred and defrayed by the project consortium.
Eligible costs must be directly attributable to the specific project supported and can include:
- Pay of personnel costs include researchers, technicians and other supporting staff employed solely on the research activity. You should state the staff cost rates and estimate the pay of personnel working on the project and the amount of time each person is likely to spend on project activities. Where staff are also engaged in non-project related work only the portion of staff costs directly attributable to the project should be provided. The names of project personnel should be given, where known;
- Additional overheads incurred directly as a result of the research activity. Applicants should provide a full breakdown of overhead figures to show how they are made up. Reasonable overheads are allowable, but unusually high costs will need justification;
- The cost of materials required for the project purchased from third parties;
- The cost of consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the research activity, including the research, technical knowledge and patents etc bought from outside sources (i.e. from outwith the consortium partners). Details should be provided;
- Training costs specific to the project are eligible. This may include training to enable staff to carry out specific project-related tasks;
- For SMEs only, the costs associated with the protection of intellectual property arising from the project;
- Market assessment (but not market research or marketing) to ensure that the intended outcomes of your project will continue to meet the identified market need;
- Capital equipment and tooling costs are allowable only to the extent that they are needed for the project. Grant will be paid on the depreciation which occurs on the equipment during the project lifetime. The depreciation is the amount defrayed minus the estimated value at the end of the project. Unless otherwise agreed, IT equipment should be depreciated over 36 months and all other equipment over
For example, if a computer purchased for 2,000 is included within the eligible project costs for an 18-month project, the amount eligible for grant is 1,000. The calculation being:
(Purchase Price (2,000) x Project Duration
(18 months)) ÷ Depreciation period of equipment (36 months for IT)
If equipment is being leased or acquired on hire purchase, do not include interest or service charges in the amount claimed.
The following costs are not eligible for support under SCORE:
- VAT (unless your business is not registered for VAT);
- interest, hire purchase interest and any associated service charges arising from hire purchase, leasing and credit arrangements, bad debts, marketing costs;
- advertising and entertaining;
- profit earned by a subsidiary or related enterprise or person(s) in providing materials, sub-contracting, consultancy or trials/testing under the project;
- inflation and contingency allowances expressed as an arbitrary overall addition to eligible project costs;
- continuing training or training costs related to sales or distribution of the developed product or process;
- the cost of printing operating, service and maintenance manuals;
- product/process marketing and sales costs;
- free-of-charge work (in-kind contributions), materials or services;
- labour costs of trainees and graduates, where supported financially by other public bodies;
- the cost of licensing-in background intellectual property when the intellectual property is being licensed from a subsidiary or related enterprise or person(s);
- work undertaken before the start of the project and after the end of the project (as defined in the letter of offer).
What is the Project Appraisal Process?
Upon receipt, all applications will be checked by the Programme Executive to ensure that they have been completed correctly and that projects and partnerships fully meet the eligibility criteria for the SCORE Programme.
The appraisal process is streamlined and applications from eligible consortia can be submitted for consideration at any time. Applications will be assessed by the Scottish Executive Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department (SEETLLD) against the scheme criteria for support and a decision will be given within 20 working days of receipt of fully completed applications.
What if your Application is Successful?
If your project is successful in gaining SCORE funding, we will send a formal offer of grant support, to the designated signatory of the lead SME partner, specifying the amount of grant offered and other general conditions. The lead partner must accept these conditions before work on the project can commence.
The consortium can start work on the date specified in the formal offer of grant support. Please note that any work carried out in advance of this date will not be eligible for support under SCORE.
Information from Sections 1-6 of Application Form A1 may be published at this stage.
Once projects commence the lead partner will be required to submit quarterly progress reports and claims for payment. Each project will be assigned a Project Monitoring Officer from the Department who will make occasional visits to oversee progress on the project.
Please send completed applications to:
The SCORE Programme Manager
Enterprise, Transport & Lifelong Learning Department
5 Cadogan Street
Tel: 0141 242 5559
For electronic copies of this document you can visit our website on: www.scotland.gov.uk/innovationgrants
For general enquiries and further information about the SCORE Programme please contact the SCORE Programme Executive, details as above.