Transport KTN guide to applying to r&d competitions

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Presentation given by Jim Lupton, Transport KTN, to assist applicants of the £5million Digital Railways competition. Useful hints and tips from the horse's mouth on what to do and what not to do in …

Presentation given by Jim Lupton, Transport KTN, to assist applicants of the £5million Digital Railways competition. Useful hints and tips from the horse's mouth on what to do and what not to do in your application form.

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  • 1. KTN Guide to Applicants Jim Lupton Rail Specialist Transport Knowledge Transfer Network ( KTN )enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 2. Accelerating Innovation in Rail (AIR) Competition• The Technology Strategy Board and the rail industry (RSSB), planned to invest £4m to accelerate business innovation in the UK rail industry.• Two-stage competition (EOI and ‘Full Stage’).• Ran from November 2011 to March 2012.• 18 consortia won funding – led by a diverse range of businesses: large and small, household names to lesser known.• In the end TSB and RSSB invested £5m, with matching taking it to £10m in total competition value.• Some very exciting projects.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 3. Context• The following stems from various discussions with people involved in the AIR process.• Experience from a previous competition – not this one!• So, in the event of a conflict, what others say today about the Digital Railway competition takes precedence!• It’s not rocket science!enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 4. Fundamentals• Read the ‘Competition scope’.• Read the ‘Guidance for applicants’.• Read the questions and understand them!• Answer the question! Each question has a purpose – providing the same information in response to several questions does not help the assessor assess your proposal!• Put yourself in the assessor’s position.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 5. The business proposition• Clearly state from the outset "WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO!" Dont think the idea is so commercially confidential that the idea cant be discussed in detail. • Market is clearly understood and the ROI is clearly stated, quantified and realistic. • Evidence and quantification – solid data sources. • Sufficient resolution to be relevant to the project. • Route to market & the funding gap to commercialisation explained.• Be clear on what is being delivered.• Arguably ‘route to market’ is the most important aspect of all the questions – without one how will the innovation bear fruit.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 6. Important questions - Risk• All questions are important because they all present an opportunity for you to distinguish your proposals from the rest.• However, thinking of the risk question: • Innovation is about risk – not the avoidance of risk. • Projects need to understand the risks and how they will be mitigated. Strong risk management strategies need to be shown. • This understanding of risk needs to be conveyed to the assessor through your proposal. • Technical, Commercial, Environmental, Managerial – make sure all are addressed.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 7. Important questions - Impact• All questions are important because they all present an opportunity for you to distinguish your proposals from the rest.• However, thinking of the impact question (environmental, social and economic): • Usually the worst answered. • Possibly why some borderline projects missed funding – a more detailed response would have lifted them into the funding zone. • Simple things like cradle to grave impacts, end of life/reuse, direct and indirect job creation, security of supply, social impact on third world economies. • In other words – show that at least some time has been spent thinking about the wider, longer term consequences of the project.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 8. Important questions - Funding• All questions are important because they all present an opportunity for you to distinguish your proposals from the rest.• However, on the subject of funding and added value: • Demonstrate that the project costs are entirely appropriate. • Demonstrate that the project will significantly increase the industrial partners’ R&D spend during the project and afterwards. • Accuracy is important.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 9. Language• Most industries use their own jargon which is impenetrable to those from outside it.• In AIR there were multiple assessors for each proposal – mainly from within the sector but also from outside it.• Don’t assume prior detailed knowledge for the assessor and avoid industry specific ACRONYMS, especially where there is significant innovation.• If you must use them, define ACRONYMS – it’s very difficult to read and understand sentences where the majority of the words are not words!enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 10. Attention to Detail• The assessors need to understand what the consortium is doing.• The only way they can do that is through the answers you give to the questions.• Be clear in your answers.• Bad grammar and spelling does not present a professional image and diverts the assessor’s attention away from your key messages.• Check your submission thoroughly. Once complete – get somebody else to read it...preferably somebody outside the business and listen to their comments.• Make sure the correct document is uploaded...someone submitted a mother’s letter to the school excusing her daughter’s absence (not AIR).enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 11. Other pointers on content• Number your answers so the assessors can see where one questions ends and the next begins.• Use all of the main sheet, don’t leave big blank spaces – the impression is that you don’t know too much about the subject.• Use diagrams, pictures and charts in the annexes – lots of plain text is depressing; make it clear, easy to read and interesting.• Reference the annexes at the appropriate point in the main application document – don’t leave the assessor to search for info in the annexes.• Reference sources including the publishing date.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 12. Finally• Attending events like these will help.• Check out the official group on _Connect.• Even if consortia didn’t get funding though AIR, it got their innovation on the radar and, in some cases, doors were opened.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 13. enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 14. In conclusion...• Read the question & the supporting information available.• Your answers to the questions are the only way of distinguishing your proposal from the rest of the field.• Attention to detail.• Participate – it’s get your innovation on the radar.• See the guide on _Connect.• Get involved in the Unlocking Innovation Scheme.enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org
  • 15. Thank you Jim Lupton jim.lupton@transportktn.org Transport Knowledge Transfer Network ( KTN )enquires@transportktn.org www.transportktn.org