Opportunity for SMEs to develop innovations through AI and data science

In 2023, we are running a pilot programme targeted at SMEs who are looking to tackle problems related to the Grand challenges set out in the government’s AI strategy. The programme is designed to bolster the data-challenge ecosystem and create a diversity of projects and challenges that data science and AI can be applied to. Having these explored through a Turing Data Study Group (DSG) , and then followed by the Turing Internship Network (TIN) programme, it will encourage multiple novel approaches to be developed.

The programme should support your business develop a new tool, product or process, or improve an existing one, utilising data science and AI. Your business needs to have some experience in data science (though not necessarily with machine learning or AI). The programme will provide you with the structure, skills and talent to work towards solving your problem, enabling you to better deliver for your clients and customers.

To find out more about the programme, you can join our event on 1 February, or view the pilot programme brochure here.

Apply Now via our online application form or download our PDF application form.


There will be two parts to this pilot programme: a Data Study Group (DSG) followed by an internship opportunity through our Turing Internship Network (TIN). This journey is designed for more focused activities to be streamlined to create more robust value chain for businesses.  



We are inviting UK-based SMEs to apply who want to develop a new tool, product or process, or want to improve an existing one. We are looking at SMEs who fall into the following category:  

  • At least 5, but under 250 employees, and either has a turnover of less than 50 million EUR or a balance sheet total less than 43 million EUR 

For the purpose of this programme, we are only open to SMEs who are headquartered in the UK.  

Application and timeline

As a first step, please submit your Challenge Proposal through this form. Deadline for Challenge Proposal application is 17:00, 19 February 2023. 

Your initial application does not have to be perfect. We’re looking for good ideas and ambition. At our Challenge Scoping Workshop on 1 March 2023, our researchers will work with you to refine and shape the challenge for a final submission.

A breakdown of the programme timeline are as follows: 

  • 14:30, 1 February 2023: Information Session on the programme
  • 17:00, 19 February 2023: Challenge Proposal application closes 
  • 1 March 2023: Challenge Scoping Workshop  
  • 29 March 2023: Final application closes 
  • 12 April 2023: Successful applicants notified  

For successful applicants: 

  • 11 – 15 September 2023: DSG event
  • October – December 2023: Recruitment of interns 
  • January – July 2023: Internship period

Data requirements

Due to the nature of our programme, SMEs must have data-sets that are ready in terms of data quality. This means: 

  • Data is collated, clean, with no missing gaps. The data is completed with full data dictionary and anonymised if necessary 
  • Data is highly appropriate and relevant to the challenge question 
  • Unstructured data / data lakes curated to contain only necessary information so that participants are not overwhelmed by information 
  • Data has been anonymised to high degree of certainty (if containing sensitive information); data subjects / owners have consented to data being used 
  • Very few missing observations (if any) and overall reliable data Have existing data science skills within their team to take forward ideas to further stages of their business. 

They must also have existing data science skills within their team to take forward ideas to further stages of their business. 

Issues your application should tackle

The challenges proposed in the application must align with the high priorities in the National AI strategy, which is to stimulate the development and adoption of AI technologies in high-potential, low-AI maturity sectors. They must also align with the following Grand Challenges set by the Office for Science and Technology Strategy, these are:  

  • Sustainable environment. An environmentally sustainable and resilient UK, delivering on Net Zero and contributing to a globally sustainable natural environment and doing so through innovation and green growth. 
  • Health and life sciences. Leading the world in health and life sciences businesses, helping citizens enjoy better physical and mental health, preventing disease and improving global health. 
  • National security and defence, including space. Strengthening security and defence at home and overseas, modernising our armed forces and tackling transnational security challenges. 
  • A digitally and data driven economy. Driving growth and security through digital technologies that generate productivity across the whole economy. 

As an SME applicant, you must not already be receiving subsidy of more than £315,000 over three years. See the Statutory Guidance on the Subsidy Control Act for more information.  

About the Data Study Group (DSG) 

The format of the DSG is challenge-driven and exploratory. If your application is successful, you will act as a Challenge Owner to present a challenge, where you will then work with a Principal Investigator for 6 months to prepare your data sets, before taking part in a 1-week collaborative research event with data scientists and AI researchers from around the UK.  

The DSG is planned to take part virtually, however there is a possibility for it to be a hybrid event. Selected SMEs will be notified closer to the date.  

About the Turing Internship Network (TIN) 

Challenge Owners who have taken part in the DSG will be invited to discuss how outputs can be taken further with a dedicated intern. The intern will be chosen from the pool of researchers who took part in the DSG. The dedicated intern will then work with the business for 3-6 months to scope a co-developed research concept into more viable solutions.  

For selected SMEs, your participation in both the DSG and the TIN will be free of charge. Our funding will cover: administration from the Turing in delivering the DSG event, any potential travel and sustenance related to the DSG event, advertising job descriptions for the TIN, and salary paid for the intern. 

About the Turing

The Alan Turing Institute is the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. Our mission is to make great leaps in data science and artificial intelligence research in order to change the world for the better.  

We have three ambitious goals: 

  • Advance world-class research and apply it to real-world problems
  • Train the leaders of the future
  • Lead the public conversation


As there are two parts to this pilot - the DSG followed by the TIN – we want to make SME applicants aware that there are different expectations for these two stages: The DSG is designed for SMEs to open more pathways and insights, and therefore this is an exploratory step to implement research to further understand a challenge. At this stage it is not expected that any foreground IP to be produced, which is why the follow-on internship stage (TIN) is important as a continuation of the programme. The intern from the TIN stage will take results produced from the DSG to refine and develop it in a way that it is tailored to a business’s roadmap, which will help the business produce more deployable and potentially commercial products and/or processes. The pilot is designed to help provide world-class R&D skills at the start, and hence any IP that comes out after the lifetime of the project will help the business have a much more competitive edge in the market.  

By joining the Turing on this 14-month journey, we also expect that SMEs propose challenges that are long-term with potential commercial routes in mind, and not short-term problems that can be solved through consultancy.  

If you have any questions, please send through to [email protected]

We look forward to receiving your applications.