5G enabled road and rail transport trials in the West Midlands, round 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £2.5 million to support the development of 5G enabled transport innovations. This funding is from West Midlands 5G, working in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the West Midlands Combined Authority through Transport for West Midlands. Innovate UK is managing the competition process.


This funding is available for innovative projects that develop a new service or product. These must improve road and rail operational efficiency, provide better-connected transport, or improve traveller experience. Furthermore, your project should include 3 months of user or product testing in your chosen location in the West Midlands using the live 5G environment.

Projects must focus on products or services in one or more of the following areas:

  • Movement of things – freight and logistics.
  • Movement of people – public transport, economic recovery, and traveller confidence following Covid-19.
  • Road operation and management.

Your project proposal should also demonstrate how 5G is essential to developing your new service or product. Alternatively, it can show how 5G offers a significant enhancement compared to current mobile communications.


Your project must:

  • Only claim up to £500,000 in grant funding.
  • Be up to 12 months in length.
  • Start by 15 March 2021 and end by 21 March 2022.

You must consult with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) if the transport monitoring and control system needs to integrate with physical road or rail networks, or requires data. In these cases, you must also ask TfWM to provide a letter of support for your project.

To confirm 5G functionality is available for your project in the West Midlands, you must also consult with a mobile network operator (Vodafone, O2, BT or 3). Additionally, a public or private communications network provider or a communications integrator should be included as a partner or sub-contractor in your consortium.

This competition closes on 2nd December 2020. For our help in putting together a competitive proposal, please contact us. To stay up to date on the latest grant funding opportunities, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter today.

Return of Innovate UK's Smart Grants

From Friday 28th August, UK registered organisations can apply to Innovate UK’s Smart Grants competition. £25 million is available for disruptive R&D innovations that have the potential to significantly impact the UK economy.

Light bulb in speech bubbleScope

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy. This includes the creative industries, science or engineering, and the arts, design and media. Projects can overlap with the grand challenge areas, although Innovate UK is also keen to support projects in other areas.

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing, innovative and/or disruptive and ambitious idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays, etc) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
  • clear, considerable potential to significantly impact the UK economy and/or productivity in a positive way
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions.

Your application must include at least one SME. They can be the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner. The project must start no later than 1 May 2021 and end no later than 31 May 2024.

Your project must also follow specific rules based on its duration:

  1. Projects with durations between 6 and 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.
  2. Project durations between 19 months and 36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. They must be collaborative projects.

RedKnight Consultancy has significant experience in supporting applications for Innovate UK Smart Grants. You can view one of our most recent success stories here. For our assistance in putting together a competitive proposal, please contact us today.

Sort and segregate nuclear waste: phase 1

Nuclear waste signs on fence urging cautionThis is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Organisations can apply for a share of £3.9 million, including VAT, to develop an autonomous, integrated toolkit to sort and segregate nuclear waste. The aim is to reduce the level of waste requiring disposal, thereby increasing productivity, reducing costs, and improving safety.

Eligible projects will reduce waste by prioritising its recycling over its disposal, as well as reduce the number of waste sorting and segregation processes carried out by humans. Additionally, all projects should increase productivity and be scalable and transferable.

Applications must address all of the following:

  • detect the type and intensity of the radioactivity present using existing technology or off-the-shelf equipment
  • determine the composition, size, shape, and surface area of the material
  • sort and segregate the waste by radioactive classification and material type
  • remotely move the waste from a specific area, process it and then pack it into the appropriate container (for example, skips, drums, boxes or bags) ensuring the space used is optimised
  • collect and analyse data and images, and retain accurate records

This is Phase 1 of a 2-phase competition:

Phase 1: Research and Development contracts, feasibility study (this competition)
  • Up to £600,000, including VAT, is available for Phase 1.
  • Projects will last up to 3 months.
  • You must produce a technical feasibility study for an innovative and integrative solution to the problem.
Phase 2: Research and Development contracts, prototype development and testing
  • Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to take part in phase 2.
  • Up to £900,000, including VAT, will be allocated for each contract for up to 15 months.
  • You must develop and demonstrate a full-scale prototype in a non-radioactive environment.

This competition runs from 17th August - 11th November. For more information, please visit Innovate UK. If you think that you may be eligible for funding, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

ISCF Transforming foundation industries: Building a resilient recovery

£8 million in grant funding is available for projects supporting the recovery and growth of the UK’s foundation industries. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and Innovate UK. The competition aims to support an innovation-led recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and protect the UK’s foundation industries innovation capability.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects. However, all projects must:

  • help the UK’s foundation industries remain globally competitive and become more environmentally sustainable
  • indicate how the innovation helps meet the needs of business and/or industry as it emerges from Covid-19 pandemic and aids rapid recovery
  • demonstrate that the business has the capability to deliver the project

Specific themes

Projects must focus on resource or energy efficiency in the foundation industries and can focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • establish long-term viability of domestic supply chains
  • new markets
  • new business models
  • new products and services
  • new processes

Projects cannot focus on fuel switching or technologies for the capture of emissions, such as carbon capture and storage.

What is the ISCF?

The ISCF is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, the long-term plan to raise productivity and earning power in the UK. They aim to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over 4 years, strengthening UK science and business. Since the ISCF launched in 2016, it has supported 1820 organisations. Funding has been awarded to projects all over the country – could yours be next?

This competition closes on 4th November 2020. If you think that you may be eligible for funding, contact us today to arrange a free consultation. Alternatively, you can find more information on this competition here.

Sustainable Innovation Fund: Round 2

Sustainable growth - tree growing out of a pile of coinsRound 2 of the Sustainable Innovation Fund is now open for applications. Through Innovate UK, £26m is available for new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19. The health pandemic has affected research and development across all sectors. Therefore, this competition aims to help all sectors of the UK rebuild, grow, and create new opportunities.


Your proposal must show evidence of key challenges caused by Covid-19 and how your project can help solve them. Innovate UK is looking to fund a portfolio of projects across a variety of technologies, markets, regions, technological maturities, and research categories. Specifically, your project can focus on themes including:

  • decarbonisation, circular economy and/or biodiversity
  • climate change and environmental sustainability
  • geographic or regionally targeted innovation
  • innovation that is aimed at commercial or residential users
  • innovations that work across more than one sector
  • follow-on international opportunities that help the UK lead the world

This is round 2 of a potential 3, with the third scheduled to open in September. For round 2, proposals can only be from a single business. This means no more than one partner receiving grant funding on the application. However, subcontractors are allowed.

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. De minimis aid provides public funding up to 100% of eligible costs. Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £100,000. Furthermore, your project must be ready to start by 1 November 2020 and last between 3 and 6 months.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund: Round 2 closes on the 2nd September 2020. You can find further information regarding eligibility, scope, and how to apply here. For our help in putting together a competitive proposal in a short timeframe, please contact us today.


Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain competitions

Manufacturing factory, view from above. Innovate UK is running two competitions to drive digital innovation in UK manufacturing supply chains. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). Eligible projects will help the UK manufacturing industry adopt digital technologies to become more productive and competitive.

The use of digital technologies can help companies rethink and restructure how they design and operate their supply chains. Customers' needs are changing fast. Furthermore, there are problems with the availability of supplies. This means that supply chains need to adapt and become more effective, flexible, resilient, and sustainable.

This competition comprises of two strands running at the same time: feasibility studies and industrial research. Please review the scope of each to ensure you are applying to the most appropriate strand for your project.


Eligible projects will investigate a problem that a specific supply chain is experiencing and develop ideas for digital technology solutions. For example:

  • real-time tracking of products throughout the supply chain using digital technologies such as low-cost sensors, NFC (near field communication), real-time data capture and data analytics
  • improved track and trace capabilities to help companies optimise inventory management and/or establish clear and accurate demand signals to help them eliminate waste

Your project must focus either on supply chain design or supply chain execution, comprising any one of the following:

  • improve and optimise existing supply chain networks
  • re-design or re-engineer existing supply chain networks
  • design new supply chain networks both for new products and processes

Your project must be across a supply chain, not just focused within one organisation or within one supplier.


Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £3 million
  • apply for total grant funding of no more than 50% of your total eligible costs
  • start by 1 April 2021
  • last up to 24 months

In this competition all projects awarded funding must upload evidence for each expenditure with every claim made. These might include invoices, timesheets, receipts or spreadsheets for capital usage.

If you’d like to know more, contact RedKnight today to arrange a free consultation with one of our grant funding specialists.

IETF: £30m available for energy efficiency and decarbonisation studies

Energy saving light bulb and tree growing on stacks of coins on nature background.

The Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) is a crucial part of the Government’s strategy for tackling climate change and reaching Net Zero by 2050. It aims to help businesses with high energy use to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions through investing in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies.

The UK Government announced £315 million of funding in the 2018 Budget, available up until 2024. BEIS will manage the IETF for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with £289 million to invest over 2 phases. Phase 1 is now open for applications, with up to £30 million available for feasibility, engineering studies and deployment across two strands.


Strand 1: IETF deployment of energy efficiency technologies in industry

In this strand, projects must undertake a feasibility or an engineering study (experimental development) to develop either an energy efficiency or a deep decarbonisation project that enables possible subsequent deployment.

This strand of the competition aims to:

  • help industrial companies build a pipeline of future deployment projects by supporting feasibility and engineering studies (experimental development)
  • reduce the costs and risks of either industrial energy efficiency or decarbonisation technologies
Strand 2: IETF industrial energy efficiency and decarbonisation studies

In Strand 2, projects must deploy technologies to improve the energy efficiency of industrial processes. Your project must only be possible because of this funding.

Example technologies include:

  • improved process control
  • more efficient heat exchange
  • more efficient drying
  • energy recovery from waste heat
  • energy recovery from waste pressure
  • resource process optimisation

This competition closes on the 28th October. If you are interested in applying, please contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

Agri-tech catalyst round 10

From Monday 20th July, UK-registered organisations can apply for funding through round 10 of the Agri-tech Catalyst. A share of up to £2.5m is available to work on agri-tech and food chain innovations in Africa.

This competition aims to increase the pace of innovation in the development of agricultural and food systems in Africa. Eligible projects will result in more use of innovations by farmers and food systems organisations, such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers.

The competition is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). It has three strands running at the same time:

  1. Early-stage feasibility studies
  2. Mid-stage industrial research
  3. Late-stage experimental development

If you are unsure, RedKnight Consultancy can help you decide which strand to apply for.


There are many opportunities and challenges for food systems. Therefore, Innovate UK are looking to fund a range of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities research categories, and different strands of the competition. Your proposal must show the potential to have a positive impact on poverty through the uptake of agricultural and food systems technology and innovation.

You can choose from one or more of the following areas:

  • primary crop and livestock production, including aquaculture
  • non-food uses of crops, excluding ornamentals
  • challenges in food processing, distribution or storage, and value addition (such as through a change in the physical state or form of the product)
  • improving the availability and accessibility of safe, healthy and nutritious foods

Your project's innovations must be sustainable in the context of environmental challenges, including climate change and resource scarcity. Furthermore, they should minimise negative effects such as pollution and food waste, and promote safe, healthy, and nutritious diets.

For further details on eligibility, scope, and how to apply, please visit Innovate UK. If you think that you might be eligible for Agri-tech Catalyst funding, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

Biomedical Catalyst relaunches with £30 million

microbiologist working with sample in biomedical laboratory

The latest round of Innovate UK's Biomedical Catalyst will soon open for applications. From Monday 27th July, UK-registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £30 million to develop a product or process that provides an innovative solution to a health and care challenge. Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £4 million.


This competition combines the early and late-stage strands of the Biomedical Catalyst. The aim of an early-stage award is to create a data package that is sufficient to support the testing of your product or process in a clinical setting. Meanwhile, the late-stage award will test a well-developed concept and show its effectiveness. Projects can focus on any health and care sector or discipline. However, they must be aligned to one of the following innovation areas:

  • medical technologies and devices
  • stratified healthcare
  • advanced therapies (gene and cell therapies)
  • digital health
  • drug discovery
  • diagnostics

Applications that support innovation in the following areas are particularly welcomed: child health technologies, innovations that support clinical trials in the UK, and biomedical innovations that combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

What is the Biomedical Catalyst?

The Biomedical Catalyst was developed in 2012 to achieve three key objectives:

  1. Deliver growth to the UK life sciences sector.
  2. Deliver innovative life sciences products and services into healthcare more quickly and effectively.
  3. Provide support to academic and commercially-led research and development.

A recent report by Ipsos MORI found that the Biomedical Catalyst has successfully met its objectives. Key findings include that the Biomedical Catalyst has offered strong value for money, increased companies' R&D investment by 93%, and increased employment by 11 to 15 percent over 3 to 5 years. Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association, welcomed the announcement of additional funding:

"The Biomedical Catalyst has provided entrepeneurs and SMEs access to crucial capital to grow and scale. This is a key part of the Government's efforts to ensure the UK is resilient to future threats to public health, as well as supporting the development of new life-changing medical treatments, diagnostics and devices."

This competition closes on the 7th October 2020. If you'd like to apply, get in touch with RedKnight today to arrange a free consultation.

£200m available to help innovative companies bounce back

A new £200m Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of COVID-19 keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive. This funding, delivered through Innovate UK, forms part of a wider £750m package of grants and loans announced in April to support innovative firms.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help power the UK’s economic recovery and develop new sustainable opportunities for businesses in any sector. It will also help the UK to meet its ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.

The funding will support a variety of projects, including the development of ground-breaking medical technologies, as well as new technologies to make homes and offices more energy efficient. The fund is also available to smart sustainability-focused projects aimed at establishing more “climate-positive” behaviours.

Following the launch, the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma said:
"Today I am urging businesses in all parts of the UK to come forward and pitch their state-of-the-art ideas to us, so we can work together to power the UK’s economic recovery."
Two exciting opportunities have now opened as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund:

Sustainable Innovation Fund: round 1

  • UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £55m to fund new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19.
  • Competition closes: 29th July 2020

Sustainable Innovation Fund: SBRI phase 1

  • Organisations can apply for a share of up to £10 million to help UK businesses and the public sector recover from COVID-19 in a sustainable manner.
  • Competition closes: 5th August 2020

If you think you may be eligible for one of the above opportunities, you can apply now through Innovate UK. For our help in putting together a competitive proposal, please contact us today.