Component recognition and tracking

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside a large UK company. This business is looking to engage innovators and innovative companies that can help them solve a significant challenge they are trying to overcome in relation to a key productivity issue. The Challenge Owner will engage with the suppliers of innovation to support development, if necessary, to better suit the application. The organisation’s facilities are situated throughout the UK and activities take place across the world. As part of their operations the business needs to keep track of assets and equipment that are regularly transferred between locations.


Challenge opens


Challenge closes




As part of operational activities, it is often necessary to relocate large numbers of pieces of equipment and associated tools, for replacement or maintenance. Parts range in size from those that are easily carried by hand by a single person, e.g. pumps, valves, wrenches, flexible hoses etc., to those that require machinery to lift, such as control cabinets and generators.  Although primarily undertaken in the UK, such activity can be required anywhere in the world.

In order not to misplace those objects and so as to reduce wastage due to unnecessary duplication, it is critical that the movements and whereabouts of each asset is recorded and stored securely. Objects are moved by a number of different means, including fork-lift, crane and manual handling. All objects must pass through designated entry/exit points. 

Due to the harsh environments and robust handling that many parts experience, solutions that involve the addition of ‘tags’ (QR codes, RFID tags) have proven not to be sufficiently reliable. The time and associated cost of adding new tags each time a piece of equipment is moved is prohibitive.  It is therefore necessary to implement a system that does not rely on adding devices to parts or equipment.


  1. Improved inventory management
  2. Reduced time to access parts
  3. Reduced duplication

The challenge owner is actively looking for solutions that will;

  1. Detect objects in motion
  2. Identify objects in different orientations
  3. Timestamp and geo-locate movements

Whilst not limiting the technologies from solution providers, it is expected that solutions would consider innovations from some of the following areas:  

  • Machine-vision specialists
  • CCTV suppliers
  • Security service solution providers
  • Artificial intelligence software providers
  • Machine learning innovators
  • 3-D scanning 
  • LIDAR imaging
  • Motion capture, animation
  • VR/AR
  • Wearable device manufacturers

The challenge owner will not consider solutions that involve: 

  • Only RFID tags
  • Only QR codes or bar codes

Rewards and benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the Challenger. The package may also include:

  • Support from the Catapult networks and the KTN
  • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot 
  • Technical support
  • Invitation to attend or present at KTN or Catapult events
  • A potential business collaboration
  • Investor introductions (if investment is required)
  • Support if any innovate or similar competitions are relevant.

Functional requirements

  • Must work in a range of lighting conditions
  • Must be easily dismountable for re-deployment to other locations

Technical characteristics

  • Must work without human supervision
  • Able to recognise a wide range of objects and flag anomalies
  • Self-learning capability

Operating conditions

  • Ambient light or artificial light
  • Capable of being operated remotely across multiple locations.  
  • Indoors or outside
  • All weather conditions and temperatures (-10oC to +50oC)

Deployment timescale

  • Launch of the Competition: 11th of May 2020
  • Deadline for applications: 10th of July 2020
  • Selection and notification of finalists: 24th of July 2020
  • There is need for this solution as soon as possible, however, for the right solution or offering they are happy to work with an early stage innovator or concept stage demonstrator

Cost requirement and market opportunity

  • Costs will be proportional to deployability
  • For the right product, the solution could be used across the clients portfolio and wider
  • This challenge offers a multi year development opportunity for the right solution

Eligibility and assessment criteria

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, startups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base

Applications will be assessed on:

  • Relevance to the topic
  • Innovative nature of the subject
  • Coherence of the proposed business model
  • Feasibility/ economic viability
  • Development potential
  • Maturity of project/solution
  • Ability to launch project quickly/Ease of implementation
  • Price/quality ratio
  • Suitability for the UK and European Market

IP and potential commercial route

  • Existing background IP associated with a potential solution will remain with Solution Provider(s). Where any new IP generation is envisaged, it will be subject to the mutual IP agreement of the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Any commercial deployment of transferred solution or newly developed solution, through licensing, joint venture, partnership or direct investment, will be subject to the commercial agreement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger.
  • Where necessary, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) may be signed to uphold confidentiality in the engagement between the Solution Provider(s) and Innovation Challenger. (This would be expected to be after company selection, it is suggested that details of IP be not disclosed, Focus on the outcomes of the technology proposed).
  • Innovate UK and KTN do not take any share of IP ownership or enter into commercial venture through the iX programme.

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