Learn about our funding programme

Funding is available to all organisations and industrial partners across all regions of the UK.

SMDH - Funding Page Graphic (2)

We offer three different funding opportunities based on the needs of your company.

Lighthouses - aims to develop already proven digital products and processes into readily accessible solutions which meet the needs of manufacturing SMEs. Grant funding of up to £315,000 per project. This call is currently closed.

Virtual Testbeds - aims to provide financial support and opportunities  to bring pre-existing testbeds to the SMDH community and enable SMEs to utilise them.  Grant funding of up to £100,000 per project. This call is currently closed.

Rapid Demonstrators - aims to support SMEs with sensor installation, data analysis or similar to enable levelling-up the opportunities for SMEs to exceed and expand. Grant funding of up to £50,000 per project. This call is currently closed.


We aim to fund projects that will support SMEs to embark on a smart manufacturing journey

Where is funding available

Funding is available to all organisations and industrial partners across all regions of the UK.

What funding is available?

Grant funding of between £5,000 and £315,000 will be provided, subject to project type.

What is the funding for?

To enable you to develop your concept into a market ready solution for deployment and dissemination to SMEs.

What should the project achieve?

Projects should develop transformational and disruptive solutions, processes, or services, that will support Manufacturing SMEs on their smart manufacturing journey.

Who should it benefit?

All solutions, processes or services must be readily usable by an SME without risking business disruption or incurring significant cost.

Who is it for?

We are open to any industrial or professional sector organisation which can provide skills, support or solutions for manufacturing SMEs.


Funding clarification

What is The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub?

 The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub (SMDH) is a project funded through Innovate UK to support small and medium-sized manufacturers to become more competitive by harnessing the power of data.


Digital solutions and expert guidance are available to companies through the hub, allowing them to explore and evaluate their processes, make operational savings, de-risk investments and become more digital savvy.

What happens after I complete the form?

Once you have registered your details at the bottom of this page, the full application form will be sent to you with details on how to submit your completed application.

Who is the funding open to?

Funding is available to all organisations and industrial partners across all regions of the UK.

What is the purpose of the funding?

As we embrace the digital manufacturing revolution, it is vital manufacturers across the UK can capitalise on the productivity and growth gains that come with adopting the latest data-led digital technologies.

What if I have a question about funding?

If you have a question about the funding that is not answered on this website please feel free to contact

How does an applicant provide financial information to demonstrate eligibility?

DIF Project Managers will review information on Companies House as part of the project due diligence.  An analytical review of financial statements will be completed and assessed in line with Innovate UK due diligence requirements.

Can you develop software?

There can be a level of software development, but this should not form a substantive part of a Lighthouse project.  If a project is purely software development then it's unlikely to meet the specification requirements of a Lighthouse. Applicants can contact the SMDH team to discuss this further.

Is there a minimum project size for a Lighthouse?

The call has been designed to allow for differing project sizes.  Rapid Demonstrator projects can secure up to £50k; Virtual Manufacturing Testbeds can secure up to £100k.  We anticipate Lighthouse projects to be larger projects.  Lighthouse projects need to be working with a multiple number of clients and able to build a rich data set from benchmarking, analytics and predictions can be developed. 

How do we understand the MDEP compliance requirements?

Data should be made available in an open file format or in a format whose specification is publicly available, as described in the Challenge Brief. Currently we can accept data as bulk uploads to, via S3 transfer methods or MQTT IoT data ingestion. We can also consider other bespoke data transfer requirements by contacting    

Could you clarify the latest start date for a project?

All projects must be completed by latest, 31st January 2025.  Final draft claims should be submitted within 30 days of project end and all supporting documentation to be submitted, the sooner of, 90 days of project completion or 20th March 2025; otherwise, Ulster University will not be obligated to pay.  The latest project start date will depend on the project term and alignment with these claim dates.

What are the financial statement requirements for applicants?

For Lighthouse and Testbed projects, evidence is required that the resources and staffing are in place to run the project within the timeframe.  Lighthouse and Testbed Consortium projects can include a start-up company, but the project must be led by an established company that has the finances and resources to manage and deliver the project within the timeframe. DIF does have some financial flexibility around the requirement for 3 years of financial statements, but other comparable evidence would have to be submitted.  For example, an unlimited company does not have to publish financial statements, but it would have to provide financial data to satisfy due diligence requirements. If a company does not have 3 years' financial statements but can evidence significant cash reserves together with staff and resources to deliver a project this can be considered.

For Rapid Demonstrator projects applicants may be asked to provide evidence that they have sufficient resources to successfully complete the proposed project within the timeframe.

Do the co-investments have to be incurred with the 12 month project?

Ideally, yes, but the latest would have to be the 31st March 2025 which is the project close date.  Co-Investment will be a target reviewed for any grant claim, and so the total co-investment will have to be evidenced before a final grant payment.  Note that final claims to be made within 90 days of project completion or by 20th March 2025; otherwise Ulster University will not be obligated to pay.

Could the co-investment be partly internally funded and part other IUK grant funded?

The co-investment can be internally funded if the company decides to invest in the project, however other UKRI and/or Innovate UK funding cannot be included as co-investment.  

Could previous investment such as R&D, CNCs, software etc, count towards co-investment?

Retrospective investment cannot be included as co-investment.  Capital costs for purchases made specifically for the project can be included as co-investment. Existing capital can only be included at workshop or laboratory charge out rates.   

Is Lighthouse funding applicable for companies that make products in-house and want to automate the process?

The Rapid Demonstrator Call is best suited to companies that want to automate their manufacturing processes.