Design Foundations: Repairability

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2m for people centred and systemic design projects to inform and de-risk future R&D activity.

Opportunity Details


Registration Opens


Registration Closes



Your project’s total costs must be between £40,000 and £80,000. Your total project costs will be 100% funded.


Innovate UK

Share this opportunity

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in innovation projects that use design methods.

Eligible organisations can apply for funding to use people centred and systemic design methods to:

  • improve existing innovative ideas
  • generate new ideas in response to a known need or opportunity
  • identify new opportunities to innovate and plan how to respond to them

The aim of this competition is to help businesses adopt people-centric and systemic design principles to lay the foundations for innovative ideas with the potential to deliver significant benefits. These can be ideas for new or significantly improved products, services, places, or business models.

All proposed projects must look at the need or opportunity from the perspective of the people involved. This is to ensure that proposed solutions are more desirable, beneficial and more likely to be adopted or to result in desirable behaviour change.

We encourage applicants to work with design experts to get the best results and to develop their own understanding and capabilities, even if they have not previously used such design processes or expertise.

  • To lead a project your organisation must:

    • be a UK registered business of any size or a charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
    • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

    Lead organisations must agree to contribute up to two days in support of Innovate UK activities to promote the use of design in business innovation, or to help us improve our products and services. This activity could include, for example, taking part in interviews, supporting the creation of case studies, or contributing to seminars or showcases. You will not be required to share confidential information or intellectual property.

    To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered:

    • business of any size
    • academic institution
    • charity
    • not-for-profit
    • public sector organisation
    • research and technology organisation (RTO)

    Your project team must include appropriate expertise in design. Lead organisations without this capability are encouraged to work with designers as project partners or subcontractors.

    A business of any size, charity, not-for-profit or public sector organisation can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications.

  • Your project must:

    • have total costs of between £40,000 and £80,000
    • your grant request must match your total project costs
    • last between 3 months and 6 months
    • carry out its project work in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
    • start on 1 June 2024
    • end by 30 November 2024
  • The aim of this competition is to help businesses adopt people-centric and systemic design principles to lay the foundations for innovative ideas with the potential to deliver significant benefits. These can be ideas for new or significantly improved products, services, places, or business models.

    The focus of this competition is repairability, or Design for Repair (DfR), which is a design philosophy that aims to make products and services more easily repairable.

    Your proposal must fall within one or more of the following categories:

    • Modularity and Accessibility: simplify the repair process and ensure that critical parts are not buried deep within the design
    • Standardisation and Compatibility: compatibility in all aspects including, industry standards and interoperability with other systems
    • Design for Durability: prioritise the use of high quality components and to ensure long-lasting value thorough testing
    • Extended Lifecycles and Lifecycle Assessment: consider adaptability to changing and emerging technologies, and support for legacy systems, evaluate environmental and societal impact for informed design decisions
    • Eco-Design and Circularity: promote sustainability, recyclability and reusability using design principles such as cradle-to-cradle (C2C) and biomimicry
    • Design for Resilience: increase resilience to external shocks and unexpected challenges, for example economic downturns and supply chain disruptions

    In all cases, projects must explore opportunities and ideas from the perspective of the people who will be involved with or affected by them. Their experiences, motivations and behaviour must be allowed to shape the challenge and ideas to make sure that:

    • the most important and valuable problems and opportunities are being addressed
    • proposed solutions are more desirable, equitable and beneficial
    • new ideas are more likely to be adopted or promote positive changes in behaviour
  • Your project must include activities to identify and involve relevant stakeholders sufficiently early and at appropriate points throughout the project. Your team must reflect the characteristics, culture and lived experiences of the people they are designing for or take steps to bring those perspectives into the project in a meaningful way.

    Any prototyping activity within your project must:

    • focus primarily on making discoveries about the quality of experience, the likelihood of the idea being adopted or its potential to promote positive changes in behaviour
    • be as quick and low cost as possible, and aim for the lowest level of fidelity or functionality necessary to get the required feedback
    • be used to share ideas and make discoveries early in the design process, so they can be acted on before it becomes prohibitively expensive or time consuming to do so

    Successful applicants are encouraged to respond to feedback and new discoveries made during the research and design process. This might include abandoning or rethinking their original ideas and changing the focus of planned R&D activity. Innovate UK will consider well-justified project change requests submitted via a project’s allocated monitoring service provider.

    Applications are encouraged from organisations that have not previously used people-centred or systemic design processes or expertise. We encourage applicants to work with design experts as partners or subcontractors to get the best results and to develop their own understanding and design capabilities.

  • The theme is repairability and is open to be applied in any product, service, place and business model, across all sectors.

    Repairability is signifying an embedded and iterative optimisation looking toward change with long term benefits.


    We are not funding projects that:

    • are a one time or occasional repair
    • are the design of experiments, policies or research methodologies
    • do not follow best practice, people and planet centred design methods and principles as described in the competition scope
    • focus on the final finish or specification of an idea where fundamental design decisions have already been made, for example, where new customer feedback or discoveries will have little influence on the design outcome
    • seek only to validate technical feasibility or progress the technology readiness level of an idea, rather than improving the quality of the experience or its benefits for people or the planet
    • are likely to be harmful to people or the planet

    We will also not fund projects that are proposals to create prototypes or demonstrators, in cases where:

    • the prototype requires a majority of the project cost or time to build
    • they are to be made fully functional
    • they are at considerable effort or cost
    • partial or simulated functionality would suffice
    • they are intended primarily to test technical feasibility or performance rather than the customer experience and benefits
    • they will only be shared with stakeholders late in the project, for example, with no time allowed to make changes in response to feedback
  • Innovate UK held a competition briefing on Wednesday 1 November: click here to watch the recording.

    We are also hosting Q&A drop-in calls for anyone interested in applying for the competition. It is an opportunity to discuss the scope of your project, understand the eligibility requirements, and be informed about Innovate UK KTN’s Design in Innovation Platform where you can network and get access to the best Design practice techniques.

    Please note that this drop-in session is for Design Foundations only and we wouldn’t be able to answer any questions related to other grand funding opportunities.

    The drop-in calls will be every Friday from 11.00 – 12.30 starting the 24th November running to the 15th December. Link to join.

    If you would like help to find a project partner, please contact Innovate UK KTN’s Design team.


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.