• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £8m to attract shoppers back to the high street by developing new and innovative solutions for retailing, service provision, logistics and travel management.

  • Programme: SBRI

  • Award: Up to £8m

  • Opens: 13 Jan 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 26 Feb 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 05 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Re-imagining the high street

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available.



The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £8m in an SBRI competition to encourage new ways of attracting people back to UK high streets. 
This competition seeks to develop new technology enabled solutions that can address the challenges facing the high street by exploring innovative approaches to retailing, service provision, logistics and travel management. 
Up to £2m is available for feasibility studies in phase 1 of the competition, and up to a further £6m is available in a second phase to further develop successful phase 1 projects. 
SBRI competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. Successful organisations will attract a 100% funded development contract of up to £100k in phase 1, and up to £1.2m in phase 2. We expect phase 1 projects to last six months and phase 2 projects to last 24 months. 
We expect applicants may wish to bring in other organisations as sub-contractors in order to address some of the complex and diverse challenges facing the high street.
The competition opens on 13 January 2014. The deadline for registration is noon on 26 February 2014 and the deadline for applications for phase 1 of the competition is noon on 5 March 2014. A briefing webinar will be held on 20 January 2014.


A thriving high street is essential to the success of our towns and cities. A diverse range of shops and services conveniently located together, with a strong local flavour, should be attractive to customers. In recent years, changing consumer behaviour, e-commerce, out- of-centre shopping and leisure developments, and inconvenient or inadequate parking provision/travel management, have had a big impact on the high street. 
Town centre vacancy rates in the UK have doubled between 2011 and 2013, and shoppers now spend more than 50% of their outlay away from the high street. Whilst combined sales through physical stores in town centres and out-of- town retail parks have remained constant over the last five years, online sales have increased by 222% or £18.5bn. The movement of private sector jobs and public services away from city centres decreases footfall within them and reduces the size of the market for high street retailers. 
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operations, speed, convenience, range of goods, ease of parking and lack of congestion of out-of-town and online shopping are more attractive to consumers than the benefits of the high street. Therefore, new solutions in services, retailing, logistics, and traffic management are required to allow towns and cities to regenerate their high streets. We need solutions that mix the virtual and physical in new ways to overcome congestion problems around many older high streets, and to offer genuinely new and attractive shopping, service and leisure experiences. 


This competition seeks innovative technology enabled solutions that can address the challenges facing the UK high street, by exploring new approaches to retailing, service provision, logistics and travel management. 

Retail/service provision 

Retail and service provision may include: 
  • new technologies that combine both physical and virtual shopping to create a hybrid ‘clicks and bricks' high street 
  • a ‘networked' high street that matches people's time and skills against local needs 
  • applications that connect a system's users (consumers, tourists, businesses, local authorities) in ways that are simple to use, secure and sustainable 
  • new kinds of data use – methods for capturing intelligence about a city's high street (for example travel, parking, footfall, spend patterns, geographic distribution of business types, socio- economic analysis of consumers) 
  • new or improved methods of retailing and service provision that enhance consumer experience through targeted deals, easier travel options and streamlined/integrated information provision and social media. 

Logistics/travel management 

Proposals that aim to improve the movement of goods and people to and from the high street, and the efficiency of the supply chain, may include: 
  • consolidation systems for distribution centres 
  • demand-based technologies for timed distribution 
  • the development of applications that use timetables, service and location 
  • development of more accurate positioning systems 
  • communication systems for the seamless movement of goods and people to and from high streets 
  • travel management – real-time parking availability and booking options. 
Proposals that tackle a specific problem, such as congestion or parking in high streets, must show how this will attract users back to the high street. The aim of the competition is the development of solutions that will enable regeneration of the high street, not ones that will provide the answer to specific infrastructure problems. 

SBRI and funding allocation

The SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector to solve specific problems. 
The public sector is able to find innovative solutions by reaching out to organisations from different sectors, including small and emerging businesses. SBRI also provides applicants with a transparent, competitive and reliable source of early-stage funding. 
SBRI competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized businesses, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focus on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation. Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated 
from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting authority. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development. 
This competition will be in two phases; an initial feasibility study (phase 1), to enable an applicant to develop a proposed solution for a specific high street situation, followed by an implementation and testing phase (phase 2), to allow a small number of solutions to be tested at scale. 
We will invest up to £2m in phase 1 projects that meet the challenges outlined in the scope above. We expect the value of contracts to be up to a maximum of £100K, and projects should last six months. Participants must provide a short publishable report on their findings. We will bring together the participants, both online and through an event, to explore learning and share thinking from the studies, and will commission a report on the key findings. 
We will invest up to £6m in phase 2 of the competition. We expect the value of contracts to be up to a maximum of £1.2m. Companies will have 24 months to deliver their implementation trials. Key performance indicators for impact on the high street will be agreed as part of the competition process and monitored by the Technology Strategy Board for up to five years from the start of the trial. Knowledge and capabilities from different industries and sectors may be needed to tackle the challenges of the high street, and we welcome applicants identifying other organisations they will bring into the project as sub-contractors for both phases. We expect applicants for phase 2 also to identify one or more UK high streets with which they will be working. It is not necessary for the high street to be identified in the phase 1 application. 

Application process

This competition opens on 13 January 2014. The deadline for registration is noon on 26 February 2014 and the deadline for applications is noon on 5 March 2014
A briefing WEBINAR for applicants will be held on 20 January 2014, to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Register for the WEBINAR
Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this WEBINAR. 

Key dates

Phase 1

  • Competition opens: 13 January 2014
  • Briefing session: 20 January 2014
  • Deadline for registration: 26 February 2014, noon
  • Deadline for applications: 05 March 2014, noon
  • Contracts awarded: 16 May 2014
  • Projects begin: 16 June 2014

Phase 2

  • Phase 2 competition opens: February 2015
  • Deadline for applications: Early April 2015
  • Contracts awarded: Early June 2015
  • Phase 2 projects begin: Early July 2015 

Further Information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications. 
For more information about SBRI see www.innovateuk.org/-/sbri 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public. 
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.