Terms of reference

Call for project proposals

01 May 2017

 Download the Terms of Reference (PDF) | Download Company Application Form


Renewable Engine is an exciting cross-border Research and Innovation ‘R&I’ project aimed at facilitating direct knowledge transfer and technology development in the Renewable Energy and Advanced Manufacturing sectors through the provision of industrial research support and technology development grants to companies. The project will be implemented across the eligible region of Northern Ireland, Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland. The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match funding provided by the Department for the Economy and Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

Approximately €6.1 million has been offered under the INTERREG VA programme to encourage the creation of new and further developed existing cross-border R&I partnerships to collaborate to increase the level of research and innovation competence and activity across the programme area in a strategic way that contributes towards the development of a more competitive, high value-added economy. Renewable Engine will develop an internationally recognised cross-border research ‘supercluster’ involving four research institutes with specialist knowledge in Renewable Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies. Led by South West College, Renewable Engine operates across a network of research institutes including Queens University Belfast, Institute of Technology Sligo and the University of Strathclyde’s High-Value Manufacturing Catapult. Collectively, this network has significant academic resources and research facilities which will be utilised to produce leading edge academic research while also supporting companies to access world-class equipment, expertise and collaborative R&I opportunities. The project will also co- ordinate an International Board of Renewable Energy Stakeholders to drive innovative forward- looking applied industrial research and initiate policy dialogue.

Project Partners

1. South West College (Lead Partner)
2. IT Sligo
3. Queens University Belfast
4. Advanced Forming Research Centre, University of Strathclyde
5. Manufacturing NI
6. Action Renewables
7. Mid- Ulster Council

Aim of the Renewable Engine Project

• ‘Renewable Engine’ will allow for the creation of a unique cross-border R&I ‘supercluster’ involving internationally recognised partners in the area of renewable energy and advanced manufacturing

• Develop an internationally recognised cross-border research supercluster in Renewable Energy and Advanced Manufacturing technologies involving 4 research institutes to bridge the gap between public and private R&I.
• ‘Renewable Engine’ will facilitate direct knowledge transfer, technology development and innovation in 8 companies in the Renewable Energy Sector through the provision of R&I support and technology development grants.
• Develop a novel programme of applied industrial research, based on identified need leading to 57 years of research activity at PhD level and above.
• Co-ordinate an international board of renewable energy stakeholders to drive innovative forward-looking applied industrial research and initiate policy dialogue.
• Increase the knowledge and awareness within industry in the cross-border region of R&I infrastructure in the Renewable Energy sector.

Open Innovation Call

The aim of the call is to help businesses develop new products, processes and services with commercial and research potential. Proposals should demonstrate disruptive and/or cutting-edge innovations. Businesses should demonstrate evidence-based ambition and potential for return on investment, growth and scale-up, preferably with access to global markets.

The Call Scope

The call will be open to businesses of any size, working individually or collaboratively with other industry partners. The call will be open to the best business-led, innovative or disruptive ideas or concepts. These can be drawn from any technology, engineering or industrial area but must focus on the Renewable Engine programme themes relating to advanced manufacturing for the renewable energy sector.

To be in scope, a proposal must:
• demonstrate transformational or disruptive, market-led innovation leading to novel, new products, processes or services or bring about a significant improvement in existing products, processes or services.
• articulate a clear, anticipated growth and commercialisation impact for the business(es) with considerable, demonstrable potential to lead to a significant return on investment (ROI)
• priority will be given to proposals that are likely to lead to sustainable gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export-led business growth.
We will not support proposals that:
• do not address the competition scope
• projects that do not focus on Industrial Research
• do not identify the size and potential of the market the research might address
• cannot present evidence that their idea or concept has the potential to lead to significant ROI, growth and scale-up of the business


Project details and funding

The project will seek to support a minimum of 8 industrial research projects. It is expected that each project will be assigned at least 1PhD student who will work on the project on a full-time basis with full academic support from the project partners.

We have also allocated up to €350,000 to directly support innovation projects in this open call.
Successful applicants to the open Innovation Call can attract funding towards their eligible project costs via an additional application round. The percentage of costs that we will pay will vary depending on the on the type of research being carried out and size and type of organisation involved. Total eligible project costs should range from €25,000 to €100,000 depending on the type of R&D to be undertaken.

Proposed projects should last between 36 and 48 months.

An applicant can only submit one project application as lead partner. If more than one application is submitted, only the first application will be considered for assessment.

Definition of cross-border collaboration

What is collaboration?
In all projects, there must be:
• at least two collaborators
• a business-led consortium, which will involve both business and the research base
• evidence of effective collaboration – we would expect to see the structure and rationale of the collaboration described in the application.
• Evidence of cross-border collaboration – we would expect to see evidence of how project work will involve cross border collaboration which will involve both business and the research base

Call process

For this call, the Renewable Engine project will adopt a portfolio approach. This is to make sure that the strategic criteria described in the call brief, is met for all projects considered to be above the quality threshold.
• submitted applications will be reviewed to make sure that they are in scope for the competition

• only applications that meet the scope of the competition will be selected for assessment

• applications in scope will be assessed by the renewable Engine project board

• assessors will score applications consistently and in line with scoring matrices. They will provide written feedback for each marked question
• applications will be ranked in descending order. Applications are scored over a quality threshold to build a portfolio of projects that:
• are high quality

• reflect a range as described in the scope

• target opportunities across a range of renewable energy technologies, themes and priorities

• demonstrate sufficient innovation, potential return on investment and degree of technical risk

• demonstrate value for money, include the potential impact of the project relative to its cost, and the cost of other projects under consideration
• the lead applicant will be notified of the funding decision

• all applications in scope for the competition will receive assessor feedback. In addition, those projects scoring over a quality threshold will receive additional feedback from the review. The extra feedback will cover why the application was or was not funded.

Submission of applications

This call for proposals is organised according to a one-step procedure:
Step 1 – Applicants have to submit an application providing an outline of the proposed project.
The application goes beyond a mere expression of interest, i.e. applicants need to present a comprehensive picture of the project’s intended change and result. This picture is the solid basis of the further development of the project.

Application process

To apply:

• the lead applicant must register

• read the guidance for applicants for this call

• attend the briefing events for potential applicants in person or by webinar (optional but recommended) and/or be able to demonstrate sufficient/suitable engagement with project partners in order to sufficiently develop the project scope for the purposes of PhD research
• submit paper and/or electronic application We will not accept late submissions. All deadlines are at midday. Each application is confidential.


Project Selection

All project proposals are assessed against Eligibility and Quality assessment criteria. The Renewable Engine Project Board will assess the quality of applications and select the projects that will be supported. The Project Board will meet at the end of June 2017. The applicants will be notified of the decision of the Project Board after this meeting.

Deadline for Submission

Project proposals for this call must be submitted at the latest by Wednesday 31st May 2017, 12.00 (midday) GMT. Late applications will not be accepted.

Applications should be submitted to: Renewable Engine Call for Proposals, InnoTech Centre, South West College, Cookstown Campus, Burn Road, Cookstown, Northern Ireland, BT80 8DN. Or via  mail to: innotechcentre@swc.ac.uk

How to get assistance

The Renewable Engine Project Partners (SWC, QUB, IT Sligo, AMRC) will provide applicants with continuous assistance during project development.


Dr. John Harrison

SWC InnoTech Centre, Burn Road, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, BT80 8DN




Dr. Peter Martin

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Ashby Building, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5AH




Prof. Suresh Pillai

Institute of Technology Sligo, Ash Lane, Sligo, F91 YW50, Ireland



Dr. Dorothy Evans

Advanced Forming Research Centre, 85 Inchinnan Drive, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, PA4 9LJ




Download Expression of Interest Form for Application