Welsh Government and the SBRI Centre of Excellence will fund organisations to develop new products or services focus on better lives closer to home

9th November 2020


SBRIs enable the public sector to connect with innovative ideas from businesses, providing new solutions to specific challenges.

They help public bodies engage with organisations from different sectors and small and emerging businesses. New technical solutions can be demonstrated through accelerated technology development, whilst risk is reduced through a phased development and a transparent, competitive, reliable source of early-stage funding.

Competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market. SBRIs are particularly well-suited to small and medium-sized businesses because they operate under pre-commercial procurement contracts and on fixed timescales. Projects are 100% funded and focus on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation. Suppliers are selected by open competition and organisations retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use made available to the contracting authorities.


The COVID-19 outbreak has deeply affected communities, society and individuals, whether the effects are on physical or mental health, economic impact, loss of jobs and income, living standards and the increased pressure on medical and social services.

To aid a recovery, Welsh Government and the SBRI Centre of Excellence will fund organisations to develop new products or services that will support our long term health and wellbeing with a focus on better lives closer to home. Your solution must help communities, businesses or the public sector adapt to the ongoing threats of COVID-19 and progress priorities contained in the Welsh Government Prosperity for All: Economic Action Plan

Applications are invited to deliver rapid feasibility study research and development (R&D) projects, with funding available up to £50,000, including VAT. With an envelope of £250k, we expect to fund up to 5 projects in total (or more if budget permits) and the successful projects must commence delivery in January 2021 and complete by end of March 2021.


The impact of COVID-19 compounds existing inequalities and the looming economic downturn from coronavirus will fall most heavily on those areas already facing economic difficulties, the valleys towns and coastal communities within Wales. Within the top 20 most economically fragile towns in the UK, 10 of these are within Wales – it is vital that we take action to support those communities, with a focus on better lives closer to home, with increased access to jobs fit for the future and improved standards of living.

Better Lives Closer to Home Challenge

The Welsh Government wants to identify and support projects that will support better lives closer to home and align with the following key themes:

  • Build Back Green – Enabling businesses and communities to adapt to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 with a focus on a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Wales. We are looking for solutions that enable people to continue to work closer to home, considering accessibility and safety whilst maintaining a sense of community and connection. Examples might be enabling communities to support a circular economy, reducing waste or increasing the efficient use of existing resources, or alternative uses for buildings, or addressing high levels of traffic or industrial emissions.
  • Sustainability and security of supply chains – Supporting place-based and needs-led business supply chains that secure jobs and safeguard against further supply chain disruptions so that our communities have access to healthy food or decrease food poverty, especially those exploring low-carbon or carbon-neutral methods with a focus on affordability and continuity of supply. This may include innovative growing methods, reducing/repurposing of waste and logistics.
  • Supporting mental and physical wellbeing for all generations – New products and services addressing mental health, access to care, or the resilience of communities. Projects might tackle greater access to resources in the community which support greater wellbeing, or increase the accessibility of active travel; solutions that may reduce the impact of winter confinement on individuals’ physical and mental wellbeing. Others might increase access to cultural experiences, supporting the creative industries so severely impacted by COVID-19, and ensuring our communities continue to value the arts, culture and natural environment that Wales is so well-known for.

The key focus will be on demonstrating feasibility, affordability and scalability of solutions that can be delivered at pace. We are looking to test new and emerging innovations via small-scale trials, creating an evidence base for further development and scale, considering affordability and practicality.

To lead a project, you can be an organisation of any size but must be able to work in Wales/with Welsh lead customers under prevailing COVID restrictions at the time of award. Academic institutions and registered charities can apply but must demonstrate a route to market, including a plan to commercialise the results.

Contracts will be awarded to individual organisations but you can sub-contract specific tasks that benefit the overall project. Ideally, subcontractors will have particular insight into the identified challenge area or clean growth agenda or be sector specialists or relevant academic institutions. Any subcontracted work is the responsibility of the main contractor.

Your organisation must work with identified potential future customers, throughout Phases 1 and 2. The potential customer can be a public sector organisation looking to tackle such a challenge but they must be based in Wales. Challenge applications should detail how you will work together to understand requirements and explore the feasibility of your proposal.


Innovative solutions could:

  • Accelerate the adoption of emerging digital and smart technology to support the mental wellbeing of people within their communities;
  • Accelerate decarbonisation, reducing the impact of emissions on health;
  • Increase access and security of vital products and services, especially to affordable and sustainable food, tackling the impacts of food poverty;
  • Support quality jobs closer to home, reducing unemployment or the need to commute;
  • Develop a place-based solution, showing an awareness of existing strengths within communities and outlining how the project will build on those strengths;
  • Encourage long term behavioural change, enabling people to play an active role in their own wellbeing


We are not looking to fund projects which:

  • Do not meet the requirements outlined in the scope
  • Do not engage with potential future customers to understand needs
  • Cannot be undertaken within the working restrictions of COVID-19
  • Do not address how any potentially negative outcomes would be managed
  • Do not evidence how a proposal will generate positive economic or societal impact
  • Duplicates existing innovation, or work in progress by others


  • Open date: 4th November 2020
  • Briefing event: 12th November 2020
  • Deadline date for applications: 12:00 Noon GMT 27th November 2020
  • Meet and greet with suppliers’: 7th December 2020
  • Decision Release: 11th December 2020
  • Phase 1 contracts awarded and feedback provided: 11th December 2020
  • Feedback: 14th December 2020
  • Projects commence: 4th January 2021
  • Projects complete: 29th March 2021

* Applications will be reviewed by Welsh and UK Government, Public Health Wales, NHS Wales, SBRI Centre

** Dates subject to change

***To view this Challenge in Welsh please contact SBRI.COE@wales.nhs.uk

Briefing Event

Please follow the link below and register your interest for the virtual Briefing Event held on 12th November 2020 at 10am-11am: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/en/events/sbri-better-lives-closer-to-home/


Applications are invited to deliver rapid feasibility study research and development (R&D) projects, with funding available up to £50,000, including VAT. With an envelope of £250k, we expect to fund up to 5 projects in total (or more if budget permits) and the successful projects must commence delivery in January 2021 and complete by end of March 2021.


  • Click +Create your idea here
  • Complete every section (A – I) of your submission
  • Submit your idea prior to the deadline 12:00 Noon GMT 27th November 2020

Please ensure you follow the guidance underneath each of the questions.

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