Start date: Monday 15 March 2021
Value: £900,000
Company size: SME
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UK SBS DDaT20361 UKRI Funding Service Beta/Live UX, User Research and Service Design Team

13 Incomplete applications

11 SME, 2 large

18 Completed applications

16 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Monday 7 December 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 14 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 21 December 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
We seek a partnership with a skilled and proven supplier with excellent knowledge of working to GDS standards to provide user research, interaction and service design expertise to supplement our in-house team, in the beta phase. The team size will need to vary over the course of the contract.
Latest start date
Monday 15 March 2021
Expected contract length
1 year with the option to extend for up to 3 months by giving the supplier written notice.
South West England
Organisation the work is for
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Budget range
Up to £900,000 over 12 months with an additional up to maximum £180,000 should UKRI decide to utilise the up to 20% contingency margin to extend the contract as stated in the DOS framework contract.
The total contract value including any extension shall not exceed £1,080,000.00 excluding VAT. However, there is no commitment to spend up to this amount.

We will be hiring in permanent staff over the coming year, so we expect the supplier team to be flexible but reduce in size over time.

About the work

Why the work is being done
UKRI is building a digital funding service to simplify and harmonise the funding process for its 9 councils in order to support research and innovation in the UK. The transformation also includes major simplification and standardisation of funding opportunities with flexibility as UKRI grows to support the needs of the UK Government and its stakeholders.

We are now in the Beta phase with the aim to roll out live services during 2021-2023.
Problem to be solved
The existing legacy system is no longer able to meet user needs and many funding schemes are run off system which means collation of data for evaluating impact is challenging. External applicants may have to learn 9 different application processes in order to apply for grant funding.
UKRI recognises the challenges applicants currently face and wants to simplify its policies and processes allowing applicants to spend more time on conducting research and innovation.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As an applicant, I need
• to apply for and manage my grant funding
• a single, simplified gateway to all UKRI funding

As a research office user,
• I need to oversee, approve, and manage the grant applications submitted by applicants

As a reviewer,
• I need to review, score, and submit feedback on applications

As an internal user, I need to
• Create and manage an opportunity
• Manage applications, peer review, award offers, project setup
• Pay funding and claims
• Manage project assurance
• Evaluate impact of the funding

As UKRI, I need a future proof, secure, integrated platform that represents good value for money.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The Discovery and Alpha phases are complete. In August we successfully deployed a pilot to test the application journey and underlying technical platform. The team will continue to extend the service with the introduction of new features and iterate the service based on user feedback.

The end to end journey involves several stages and serves a number of different external user types.
Existing team
The team is a collaboration of UKRI staff, contractors and other suppliers.

The supplier team will help bolster and support a relatively immature UKRI team which consists of:
• User Research & Design Manager
• 1 user researcher
• 2 interaction designers
• 1 Content designer
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Initially remotely during the impact of COVID-19 then Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 1FL. 2 min walk from Swindon train station.
Working arrangements
We are looking for a supplier who is comfortable doing remote user research, user experience and service design, and can work in a blended, remote team.

Workloads will be managed by the in-house Delivery Manager using Confluence and Jira. Post Covid we expect team members to be in Swindon 3 full working days, 09:00 – 17:00, per week for co-located working. We make extensive use of video conferencing for regular ceremonies.
Security clearance
• Onsite attendance at Polaris House requires basic security disclosure.
• Contractors must sign our standard non-disclosure agreement
• All suppliers must provide proof of GDPR compliance.
• All suppliers must adhere to UKRI’s information security and GDPR policies.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
No additional conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Using an example, demonstrate your team's approach to the user research lifecycle and methodology. (5%)
  • Demonstrate, using an example, how your team has expertise in improving the whole customer journey. (5%)
  • Demonstrate how your team has effectively used the GOV.UK design system as part of an iterative design cycle during a beta phase of a digital service. Please provide an example.(5%)
  • Describe the role your team has played within the context of preparing for and passing beta GDS service assessments. (4%)
  • Demonstrate, using an example, how your team has designed services which meet assisted digital needs. (4%)
  • Demonstrate how your proposed team has effectively worked as part of a multi-disciplinary team during a beta delivery phase. (3%)
  • Demonstrate experience of transferring knowledge to internal staff through the lifecycle of delivery. (2%)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Please use an example to demonstrate how your proposed team have effectively designed services within environments working in a large project with multifaceted suppliers and stakeholders. (1%)
  • Please provide an example to demonstrate how your proposed team have effectively prototyped in code. (1%)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Describe how your proposed team will ensure the successful outcome of this project. (7%)
  • Provide details of the suggested size, shape and make-up of your proposed team, describing how this team structure will maintain the ability to deliver the services throughout the project lifecycle.(6%)
  • Describe how your team will work with UKRI staff and are able to provide full operational control and support of the service upon completion of the work. (6%)
  • Demonstrate how your proposed team will improve the whole customer journey. (6%)
  • Describe how you will ensure that your services will provide UKRI with good value for money for the taxpayer. (5%)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Describe how your proposed team will work successfully with UKRI as part of a remotely distributed multi-disciplinary team. (5%)
  • Demonstrate how your proposed team will deliver in an open, collaborative, agile way according to the principles outlined in the Government Service Design Manual. (5%)
  • Explain, using an example, how your proposed team is able to deliver outcomes, using agile in non-agile environments and how you will manage non-agile stakeholders. (5%)
  • To provide a simple experience for users it sometimes requires significant organisational change. Demonstrate how your proposed team will tackle complex internal and technological challenges to solve this. (5%)
Payment approach
Time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Latest start date
The commencement of the services is scheduled for 15th March 2021 in accordance with the published requirements. However, this is subject to change should there be any delays in the procurement process.
2. Procurement timeframe
The anticipated procurement timeframes are as follows:
25th January 2021 – Notification of shortlisting outcome
1st February 2021 – Written proposal deadline
W/C 8th February 2021 – Presentations
24th February 2021 – Notification of award outcome
3. How suppliers will be evaluated
The evaluation methodology for this procurement will be based on the 0-10 methodology as per below:

Suppliers that fail to score 6 and above in any Essential Skills and Expertise criteria will not be considered for the assessment stage.

Score - Score Prefix Descriptor
0 - The Question is not answered, or the response is completely unacceptable.
2 - Very poor response and not wholly acceptable. Requires major revision to the response to make it acceptable. Only partially answers the requirement, with major deficiencies and little relevant detail proposed.
4. How suppliers will be evaluated
4 - Poor response only partially satisfying the question requirements with deficiencies apparent. Some useful information provided but response falls well short of expectations. Low probability of being a capable supplier.
6 - Response is acceptable but remains basic and could have been expanded upon. Response is sufficient but does not inspire.
8 - Good response which describes their capabilities in detail which provides high levels of assurance consistent with a quality provider. The response includes a full description of techniques and measurements currently employed.
5. How suppliers will be evaluated
10 - Response is exceptional and clearly demonstrates they are capable of meeting the requirement. No significant weaknesses noted. The response is compelling in its description of techniques and measurements currently employed, providing full assurance consistent with a quality provider.
6. Proof of GDPR Compliance
The necessary DP accreditation would be required or evidence that you are "working towards" attaining the official accreditation.
7. Due to a limited character limit within the digital marketplace, please see the additional provided information regarding our requirement:
As secondary tasks, the team will be asked to support the wider transformation programme of work known as “Simpler and Better Funding” in which the Funding Service sits. Other non-digital projects in the programme are benefitting from user research and service design expertise to help with business change.
8. Please can you advise who the incumbent is?
We do not feel that it is appropriate to disclose the name of the incumbent supplier. This information is not essential or required by bidders in order to submit a response to this tender.
Please note that information about previously awarded contracts is available in the public domain.
9. Can you provide details of your systems and apps, which the appointed agency will be working with? Could we get top level access to these?
We use standard tools: Jira, Confluence, Miro, Adobe XD, GDS prototype kit, Survey Monkey, Google Analytics.
We are unable to give any supplier access to our systems prior to contract signature.
10. Accessibility – do you require AAA level standard or is the WCAG AA level adequate?
The system will follow GDS Accessibility Guidelines and Implement WCAG 2.1 AA level compliance for both INTERNAL and EXTERNAL systems as a minimum. However, we are due to review our NFRs in the New Year.
11. Could you please describe your target audience?
Externally, users from other organisations, both business and research (academia). Please see section "who the users are and what they need to do" in the Digital Marketplace procurement description.
12. Do you have an existing panel/database of users for research? or would we need to source participants?
Sourcing of participants is not required.
13. Have you already developed personas?
Yes, personas have already been developed.
14. Could the agency work remotely for the full length of the contract, or would this be considered?
We require the agency to work as part of the co-located team as per the details published. i.e. on site 3 days per week once COVID restrictions are lifted.
15. We have knowledge design system, but no experience. I know this is essential. Would this automatically rule us out?
As per the published essential criteria, the suppliers must demonstrate experience of effectively utilising the principles of the GOV.UK design system as part of an iterative design cycle during a beta phase of a digital service. Therefore, applications failing to meet any essential criteria will not be considered for the assessment stage.
16. You mention a technical platform. What technical platform are you using to build the funding service?
The platform is Open source, modular architecture using AWS, React and Node.Js
17. UR & Design roles are mentioned as existing roles in the team – are there developers in the same team, or do you have a separate team of developers?
The development team members are a combination of UKRI staff and suppliers, procured through a separate procurement engagement.