Innovate UK seeks ways to transform aviation with technology

Innovate UK is seeking new systems and technologies to transform the aviation industry under a new competitive process.

Citing flying taxis, drones, small electric aircraft, vertical take-off and landing vehicles, and autonomous aircraft as some of the innovations that could transform aviation and broader transportation, Innovate UK said new tech, as well as new business models, will be needed to allow these new elements to use existing spaces such as airports.

As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Future Flight Challenge, the innovation agency is looking to provide a share of its funding of up to £30m to projects that develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems for new electric and autonomous aircraft.

According to the agency, potential candidates would likely be developing, and be able to demonstrate, integrated aviation systems that allow drones, urban aircraft or electric regional aircraft to fly in and out of airports, airspace, and rural and urban areas.

Examples of areas such projects could focus on include air traffic management and unmanned traffic management systems, digital infrastructure to support future flight, autonomy, digital and communications systems, security systems and vehicle technologies enabling integration to new aviation systems.

The competition has two strands. Strand 1 will support smaller, fast-track initiatives led by a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) working with at least another business, research or public organisation or charity. In this strand, projects will range in size between £150,000 and £500,000 and to last between 6 and 18 months.

Strand 2 will be aimed at larger consortia undertaking “more ambitious projects”. Businesses of any size can take part, including at least one SME as a project partner. Projects are expected to range in size between £500,000 and £10m and to last between 6 and 18 months

The closing date for applications on both strands is 1 July 2020.

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