Scaling Out For Impact (SOFI-2)

This opportunity is now closed. However this competition forms part of an collaborative programme which will enable UK and South Africa SMMEs to form partnerships as cohorts within the food, energy and water nexus to deliver research and development innovation projects that address improved accessibility across the food, energy and water nexus. 

Opportunity Details


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Up to £500,000 has been allocated to fund ten collaborative projects, up to approximately £50,000 per project. The UK partner for each project will receive up to £25,000.


Innovate UK

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This Scaling Out for Impact (SOFI-2) second iteration is being delivered in partnership by Innovate UK in partnership with South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) with up to £500k total investment for UK/SA collaborative R&D projects to improve access to food, energy and water to have far reaching impact for communities.

While the programme is focused on four selected provinces in South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape), the intention is for knowledge and technology to be shared and applicable across both the UK and South Africa.

The programme aims to accelerate the development and deployment of affordable, accessible innovative solutions around last mile delivery of the food, energy and water nexus through UK-South African partnerships. The primary focus is on scaling out impact of these solutions by ensuring wide reach to have far reaching impact for communities.

The programme is designed to support a cohort of UK and South African innovative Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) through a structured process to collaborate and develop locally scalable and affordable innovations. The cohort will comprise of roughly 50 SMMEs – 25 of whom will be from the UK and 25 will be from South Africa – who will be identified through focused efforts in both countries and will go through a selection process.

What’s on offer:

SMMEs selected onto the programme will be supported to form partnerships that will be eligible to apply for collaborative project funding. This funding is available only to programme participants who come together and form collaborative projects comprising of at least one UK and one South African SMME. The funding is made available to test, develop and deploy their innovations with communities, with the aim of demonstrating potential impact and scalability of the innovations locally in South Africa.

With the right support and connections to existing knowledge and expertise both in the UK and in South Africa (including potential collaboration partners), the innovators / SMMEs can:

  • co-create new solutions to development challenges identified by communities in South Africa
  • co-create appropriate business models thus generating new economic activity in South Africa and, potentially, beyond
  • help build capacity for innovation and enterprise development

Up to £500,000 has been allocated to fund ten collaborative projects, up to approximately £50,000 per project, through this programme. Of the total funding available to each collaborative project, the funding has been allocated such that the UK SMME partner is eligible to receive up to a maximum of £25,000 and the SA SMME partner is eligible to receive up to a maximum of ZAR500,000. Funding will be in the form of a grant for each chosen collaborative project and will be disbursed by Innovate UK and TIA respectively.

Once you have registered your interest, the team will assess your eligibility and send you the stage 2 registration form if you are selected.

  • We are looking for interested UK based innovative SMMEs to be part of the UK cohort on the programme.  We hope to select a maximum of 25 UK based innovative SMMEs who meet the eligibility criteria as described below.

    • Focus on improving accessibility of food, energy or water.
    • Propose an innovative technology solution or business model that is feasible, reliable and with tested proof of concept.
    • Ability and willingness to work collaboratively with at least one South African partner.
    • The funding mechanism is on a reimbursement basis which therefore requires the organisation to have sufficient funds to implement a project deployment before being reimbursed.
    • Willingness to travel to South Africa and spend up to a week in-country at minimum in March 2024
    • Dedicate the time and resource required to participate in the programme.
    • UK registered.
    • Technology Readiness Level 4+ (we are not looking for ideas but for existing solutions that have a proof of concept at minimum that has been tested, ideally outside a lab setting)
    • Relevance to the food, energy and water nexus
  • We are not funding projects that are:

    • below Technology Readiness Level 4
    • applications which would have no impact on the accessibility of food, energy or water in rural South Africa.
    • unable to fund a project implementation up front.
  • Applications close: 25th Feb – 5pm

    Selection period: 5th – 15th March

    Onboarding: 25th March

    SA Trip for UK SMMEs: TBC – second half of April


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