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.

Energy Catalyst Round 8: Clean Energy Access

Solar panels - a clean energy source - pictured in a field with blue sky above. Organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million to develop and demonstrate innovative solutions for clean, affordable, and secure energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or South East Asia. The competition aims to support highly innovative, market-focused energy solutions in any technology or sector.

Your project must encourage the development of products and services that help one or more of the specified countries to access secure, low cost, and low carbon energy. Projects must be targeted at people, public services, and local enterprises who are unable to afford or access existing solutions, or who lack the time or expertise to successfully use those solutions.

This competition has three strands, which are dependent on the stage your project is at:

  1. Early-stage for feasibility studies (this strand)
  2. Mid-stage for industrial research
  3. Late-stage for experimental development

The Energy Catalyst Programme is open to any energy technology from any sector. However, to be in scope for round 8 your project must address the following 3 subjects: energy access, the energy 'trilemma', and gender and social inclusion. For example, your project could focus on:

  • making new solutions more affordable.
  • integrating technologies in new systems or business models to help unlock finance and deployment.
  • developing technologies or partnership business models that address other barriers to deployment.
  • unlocking under-served market segments that existing solutions are not reaching at scale.

This competition closes on 16th September 2020. For further details on eligibility, scope, and how to apply, please visit the competition page.

Interested in applying? Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

BEIS Funding Allocations 2020-2021

BEIS 2020-21 Funding Allocations reveal a huge boost for UK research and innovation.

The Chancellor’s 2020 Budget included ambitious plans to increase public research and development (R&D) investment to £22 billion by 2024. This is the largest and fastest ever expansion of funding for research and innovation, taking direct support for R&D to 0.8% of GDP. It places the UK among the top quarter of OECD nations.

The Government remains committed to meeting this goal, despite the uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is moving forward with its plans, confirming allocations of the R&D budget for 2020-2021. As a first step towards meeting this ambition, £10.36 billion of funding is being allocated to BEIS programmes and partner organisations this financial year.

The funding includes:

  • investment in world-leading science and advanced mathematics
  • investment in Net Zero technologies in the energy, automotive and aerospace sectors
  • support to immediate efforts to respond to COVID-19, including sponsoring efforts to manufacture and trial a vaccine
  • investment to secure and maintain the essential talent and infrastructure needed to deliver cutting-edge research.

In short, funding for public sector research establishments will enable the UK to be at the forefront of fusion energy technology. It will also deliver world-leading meteorological and climate science, develop cutting-edge quantum measurement techniques, and capitalise on the UK’s space capabilities. In a move aimed at creating stability during the pandemic, BEIS is providing further support to R&D intensive businesses and higher education institutions.

If you're interested in viewing the full list of R&D allocations for this financial year, click here. Alternatively, to discuss funding opportunities with one of our specialist advisers, please contact us today.

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Two new competitions to decarbonise UK industry

The UK Government aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. However, some of the UK’s most economically active and industrially intensive areas are also some of the largest producers of carbon emissions, with around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions being produced by industry. For this reason, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has launched two competitions in a new Industrial Decarbonisation challenge.

The Industrial Decarbonisation challenge will commit £170 million towards deploying technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen networks in industrial clusters, supporting the Industrial Clusters Mission to establish the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040.

Competition 1 – deployment

UK businesses will have the opportunity to apply for a share of up to £1 million to develop plans for decarbonising an industrial cluster. To compete in this Deployment phase 1, applicants will have until 4 December to submit their proposals, which must:

  • have total eligible costs between £60,000 and £200,000
  • be led by a UK business
  • be collaborative
  • last between 3 and 4 months
  • aim to carry out the project work in the UK and exploit the results across other UK industrial clusters

Successful applicants from phase 1 will then compete for phase 2, where up to £131 million will be awarded for projects that will deliver, or support delivery of, significant emissions reductions in a UK industrial cluster by 2030.

Competition 2 - roadmaps

In the roadmaps competition, UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £1 million to prepare plans for their journey to achieving low carbon and net zero industrial clusters. In this competition, applicants will have until 4 December to submit their projects, which must:

  • have total eligible costs between £40,000 and £120,000
  • be carried out by a single organisation or in collaboration – which we encourage
  • demonstrate how it will collaborate within a cluster
  • last between 3 and 4 months
  • be led by a UK registered business of any size, a research organisation, public sector organisation, charity or academic institution
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results in at least one UK industrial cluster

In phase 2 up to £8 million will be awarded for the development of industrial cluster decarbonisation roadmaps for major UK industrial clusters. These must set out how a cluster could be decarbonised to net-zero levels.

More information can either be found on the Innovate UK web page or you can always call us for a FREE consultation!

Innovate UK to launch competition in support to food producers

By 2050, the global demand for food is expected to grow by 60 per cent to meet the needs of an increasing and more demanding population. To do this without causing a devastating impact on the environment producers need to supply what we eat in a more sustainable and efficient way, reducing pollution, minimising waste and improving soil conditions.

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Food Production Challenge has up to £20 million from the fund to invest in large-scale and ambitious projects that help UK food production break out of a traditional land-based model and move towards a sustainable position of net-zero emissions.
The competition will remain open until 22 January 2020 and it will be directed to projects that are either developing new and efficient low-emission food production systems or addressing technological and other bottlenecks holding back state-of-the art systems from supplying consumers.
Areas of work could include indoor growing systems, aquaculture, and new food sources such as insects and fermentation-based systems.

Briefing events will be held in Edinburgh on 8 October 2019 and in Birmingham on 23 October 2019

More information can either be found on the Innovate UK web page or you can always call us for a FREE consultation!