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The PIVOT cross-sector innovation programme

Developing industry's technologies and innovations for crossover applications in new growth markets

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Does your organisation have a technology, product, process or service that is mature or is being developed in the supply chain of one industry sector (e.g. medical, rail, motorsport, any other . . .) that could be developed into a product or service for the aerospace and aviation industries (especially -- but not only -- ideas to make aerospace and aviation greener)? Making that happen is the idea behind the PIVOT pilot.

The PIVOT pilot is part of the West Midlands Innovation Programme, run by the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority. If it is successful the PIVOT model may be applied to "crossover technologies" between any clusters.

The concept behind PIVOT is explained from a regional economic development viewpoint by Midlands Aerospace Alliance Chief Executive Dr Andrew Mair in this blog for the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands:

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Introducing PIVOT -- supply chains innovate to PIVOT to new markets

PIVOT is a programme to accelerate cross-industry innovation in West Midlands supply chains. It is doing this by mobilising the expertise of regional clusters to identify and stimulate supply chain companies to diversify their business portfolios by developing their technologies and innovations ready to address business and technology challenges that are being faced in new, emerging or simply different markets (it’s the switch that is the pivot, we call the technologies being applied to another sector "crossover technologies"). PIVOT builds on a model that has already proved successful in the aerospace industry of supporting a significant portfolio of distinct technology development projects, and applies it to demand-led innovations that cross sector boundaries.

Cross-industry technology exploitation already occurs, of course – but it tends to be piecemeal and sporadic. PIVOT will make the process more systematic. It will benefit the regional economy by developing technologies and innovations that can be commercialised to generate business revenue and jobs, and it will contribute to weaving a richer, more innovative and more resilient regional economic fabric.

PIVOT concept

PIVOT in a nutshell


PIVOT programme pilot

PIVOT is about supply chains in regional clusters working together to help companies take technologies and innovations from one industry and develop them so they can be commercial exploited in another market. The PIVOT programme pilot is supporting the development of technologies and innovations from other sectors that can contribute to the aerospace and aviation sectors (with a special interest in contributing to the greening of aerospace and aviation).

The pilot is being run by the Midlands Aerospace Alliance to give opportunities, funding and expert support to companies across all regional supply chains which may be in a position to help address critical aerospace and aviation challenges. It is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s West Midlands Innovation Programme.

What PIVOT provides

  • the R&D grant funding thanks to the WMCA’s Innovation Programme
  • the aerospace technology, engineering and innovation expertise to guide you
  • the customer/end-user advice about demand to steer you thanks to leading regional aerospace firms
  • the support to pull your project closer to the aviation and aerospace markets

What organisations PIVOT can support

  • must be led by a supply chain company located in the WMCA 3-LEP geography (Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry & Warwickshire); knowledge base bodies (universities, Catapults . . .) can be involved but not lead
  • not restricted to SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises): but if your company is larger you will need to make a case for why the subsidy is needed, and we won’t be funding very large companies.
  • may already operate in more than one industry including aerospace and aviation, it’s the transfer across sectors of the technology or innovation that matters
  • can draw on expertise and partners from other places (not all spend need be in the WMCA area; we welcome collaborative projects

Some nuts and bolts

  • PIVOT grants cover 50% of eligible spend for SMEs or 40% for non-SMEs. The maximum grant is expected to range from £40k to £75k per project. So for an SME, for example, the total project budget might be £80k to £150k. See Innovate UK on what constitutes eligible spend (click here).
  • PIVOT pilot projects could be up to 12 months long. The pilot is currently funding 3 projects.
  • there was a single two-stage bidding round comprised of a brief outline application followed by invitations to full application during May and June 2021

Project design (we guided applicants on this)

  • must be to develop a technology or innovation that is new to aerospace and aviation markets
  • must be “industrial research” (middle TRL (Technology Readiness Level), applying GBER R&D&I rules on matched funding); essentially, you can receive funding and use your staff time to match it.
  • we required some indication there is a market opportunity (e.g. market intelligence, or support of an end user).

Key stages of the programme

  • Call Announced
  • Virtual briefings held
  • Deadline to submit outline proposal
  • Projects selected to proceed to full proposal stage
  • Deadline for full proposal stage
  • Project proposal presented to expert panel
  • Grant funding awarded
  • Projects delivered until end

For more information

Contact: info@midlandsaerospace.org.uk

P.S. If you think you’ve seen PIVOT before, when the concept was originally developed we called it CITEC.