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TWI Orbit Platform Enhancements for Improved User Experience

Wed, 20 March, 2024

Since TWI launched its online collaboration and networking platform Orbit in early 2023, we have been working behind the scenes to bring our users an ever evolving experience, and make it as easy as possible for you to find those all-important opportunities for new potential projects and technological / industrial partners.

At Orbit’s core, at any one time, are rolling details of over 100 UK and European Union (EU) grant funding competitions (also known as ‘calls’) for which competitive project proposals from technology-based consortia are sought. These offer a route to enabling collaborative, industry-focused research and development (R&D) – in conjunction with TWI Innovation Centres, TWI Industrial Member and Innovation Network Subscriber companies, and SMEs with complementary skills and experience to your own – through competitive proposal activities.

As a user of Orbit you may have noticed some changes, over time, to both how you are able to navigate the platform and the depth of content provided. However if you are not a regular Orbit visitor, the following is a summary of the most notable improvements to temp you back onto the platform, as well as being a reminder for more frequent users!

Orbit Funding Opportunities page

Orbit’s funding competition pages are where you can search for upcoming, relevant opportunities for your company or organisation. Funding calls are published in date order by most recent and include details such as: the funding topic; competition scope and aims; maximum project value; and the deadline to express interest to TWI’s Technology Innovation Management (TIM) team, who manages the end-to-end project proposal process, supporting key stages such as ideation, consortium member recruitment and development of project finances.

As an Orbit user, when drilling down into any particular funding call webpage, you will now also be presented with a list of ‘Similar funding opportunities’. This gives you the option of looking at, and comparing, alternative grant competitions rather than focusing in on your initial thinking straightaway. Exposure to a wider range of calls information will also enable you to stay abreast of which topics UK and European, as well as farther afield, governments most want to target funding at.

Orbit Discussions page

Orbit’s discussion forum, where you can post your own, and reply to other users’, questions and comments in real-time is now more information-rich. As such, it is the ideal place to start generating engagement when you have identified a potentially suitable grant funding competition for your company or organisation’s new technology concept or R&D ambition. The addition of ‘Expertise offer’ and ‘Expertise request’ buttons allows you to highlight particular technologies and industries you would like to join collaborative project proposals for, as well as those you are seeking partners with experience in, with a view to joining forces with them. You can now also provide forum users with more detailed information when writing a message, via the new PDF document upload facility.

Orbit About Us page

Specific terms and acronyms are used liberally by funding bodies and programmes such as Innovate UK and Horizon Europe, and being able to understand the ones used most frequently is beneficial in understanding the funding landscape. Therefore, we have created a ‘Glossary’ of the most notable ones on the About Us page, where you can also find an explanation of some of the TWI acronyms used across Orbit.

Orbit platform-wide updates

Other enhancements to Orbit include retention of information on TWI events that have already taken place, under the new heading of ‘Past events'. This is useful, for example, if you notice an event you would have liked to attend but missed it, in which case there may subsequently be a recording of it available, or you could reach out to us for related information. Site-wide we have: increased the size of ‘action buttons’ so you can click through to, or request, information without having to spend time on scanning to make your next move; and made the ‘Member type’ drop-down menu in the Network area, which enables you to search companies and organisations listed on Orbit by different categories, clearer by streamlining the terminology and use of acronyms.

Increased access for TWI Industrial Member and TWI Innovation Network Subscriber companies

Last but not least, we have raised the number of registered user accounts per company / organisation to 5 rather than 3, thereby helping to cascade potential collaborative project opportunities more widely amongst colleagues who may be looking for grant funding and/or working on joint activities in the same space.

Jacinthe Nourrit, Senior Innovation Project Leader, TIM, who manages the Orbit platform said “Since Orbit launched last year it has gone from strength-to-strength – and we now have users spread across the UK, 21 different European countries and further afield in regions including America, Asia and Africa – who collectively represent a mix of TWI Innovation Centres, leading universities, TWI Industrial Members and TWI Innovation Network Subscribers, and R&D orientated SMEs. We are also rigorous in our commitment to publishing the latest funding calls information in a single point of access. Therefore, if you are seeking a way to accelerate your technology innovation, creating a user profile on Orbit is a great starting point!”

Head over to Orbit and start exploring new opportunities today!

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