The pools - fixtures to be subsequently announced - are as follows:
POOL A: Exeter Chiefs, Leinster 'A', Cornish Pirates, Newport, Plymouth Albion, The Thistles
POOL B: Coventry, Bristol Rugby, Heriot's, Munster 'A', Neath, Nottingham
POOL C: Aberavon, Bedford Blues, Llanelli, London Welsh, Moseley, Ulster 'A'
POOL D: Ayr, Birmingham & Solihull, Cardiff, Doncaster Knights, Pontypridd, Rotherham Titans
Fixtures will be played over five weekends during the Investec Challenge Series and RBS 6 Nations windows with semi-finals and finals on April 24 and May 15 respectively.
Irish Rugby Football Union Director of Rugby Eddie Wigglesworth said: "From an Irish perspective we welcome the introduction of the British & Irish Cup which will provide a very competitive professional game structure to meet the needs of our emerging contracted players.
"The teams involved are well known rugby entities in their own right and, in conjunction with our existing internal structures, will ensure that this group of contracted professionals have the necessary professional game exposure to meet the increasingly competitive demands at Magners League and Heineken Cup levels.
"It also provides a unique cross border game opportunity for Irish coaches and referees.
"Overall, the British & Irish Cup introduces a more structured approach to the existing Ireland provincial 'A' game programme in each province.
"Next season this competition when combined with the existing 'A' interprovincial series will deliver the same number of games as agreed last year, with only the semi-final and finals additional games.
"Games will take place over the extended weekends (Thursday to Sunday) and will not conflict at any point in the season with the AIB League weekends or the latter stages of the AIB Cup.
"The Irish rugby scene, in the context of our neighbours, is small but very dynamic and thankfully very productive player-wise.
"We need this additional professional game opportunity to augment the existing provincial Academy and Development player structure and also need a very strong domestic league.
"The AIB League represents the top level of our domestic game and professional player involvement in the AIB League is important to both the clubs and our professional structure.
"We believe this more structured approach can alleviate many of the current interface issues in the coming seasons."
-12 English Championship clubs (Bedford, Birmingham & Solihull, Bristol Rugby, Cornish Pirates, Coventry, Doncaster Knights, Exeter Chiefs, London Welsh, Moseley, Nottingham, Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans)
- Top 6 Welsh Principality Premiership clubs (Aberavon, Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport and Pontypridd)
- 3 Irish provinces (Munster 'A', Leinster 'A' and Ulster 'A')
- 3 Scottish teams - top two finishers in Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership Division 1 (champions Ayr and runners-up Heriot's) and the Scottish Thistles, a team drawn from Edinburgh and Glasgow and members of Scottish Rugby's National Academy
- Four pools of six teams playing once (5 matches)
- Pools based on travel/geography with the aim of maximising local interest and minimising cost to teams and supporters
- 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for either a) scoring 4 or more tries or b) losing by 7 points or less
- Pool matches scheduled for November 7 and 28, February 13, February 27, March 13 (NB: These are non AIB League-fixture weekends)
- Pool winners progress to the knock-out stages
Semi-finals and final
- Four pool winners progress to semi-finals and final
- Semi-finals scheduled for April 24, final for May 15