Innovation Fund: First call for small-scale projects

person holding a green plantThe Innovation Fund, a new European funding stream, has launched its first call for small-scale, clean-tech projects. It has €100 million available and is also offering project development assistance for up to 20 rejected proposals. In line with the Innovation Fund’s wider objectives, the call aims to advance Europe’s transition towards climate neutrality.


The competition is open to projects with total capital costs between €2.5 and €7.5 million. Grants will cover 60% of a project’s total expenditure. The evaluators will consider the following award criteria: greenhouse gas emission avoidance, degree of innovation, project maturity, scalability, and cost-efficiency.

All projects should take place within an EU Member State, the only exceptions being Norway and Iceland. This has important implications for UK applicants; any project located in the UK will only be eligible for funding if the EU and UK reach an agreement.


Grants are available for innovative small-scale projects that are ready for market. For example, eligible projects may focus on making the first sale of new technology to pioneer customers. There are several eligible sectors within which your project can fall: renewables, energy-intensive, industries and substitute products, carbon capture and storage, energy storage. However, the call specifically encourages three key activities: products that substitute carbon-intensive ones, net carbon removal innovations, and direct air capture.

To be eligible for project development assistance, rejected proposals must meet the minimum requirements under the degree of innovation and greenhouse gas emissions criteria, and obtain at least half of the points available for project maturity. Additionally, the evaluators must believe project development assistance will help improve a project’s maturity.

For more information on the small-scale project call, visit the European Commission website. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a consultation. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter to receive grant funding news direct to your inbox.

Innovate UK announces funding to remove air pollutants from homes

Organisations can apply for a share of £3 million to develop an innovation that will remove harmful air pollutants from homes. The competition is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funded by UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund. It is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition, with a decision to proceed with phase 2 dependent on the outcomes from this phase. Please note that only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply for funding in phase 2.

The competition aims to safeguard the health of occupants, particularly young or vulnerable people. It tackles a pressing issue, as poor air quality is the top environmental risk to public health in the UK. Research has found that human exposure to these emerging air pollutants occurs increasingly indoors, and particularly at home.


To address the challenge of poor air quality in domestic environments, this competition will support research and development for affordable domestic products or services. Eligible projects must protect the health of occupants by removing at least one harmful household pollutant from the air.

In this phase, R&D contracts will be awarded to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed solution. Therefore, your proposal must:

  • Demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed innovation.
  • Develop the plan and lay the foundations to deliver in phase 2.
  • Establish collaborations and agreements which will enable testing of the innovation in a real-world setting as part of phase 2.

The focus of phase 2 will be to test and evaluate a prototype of the solution in a real-world environment and develop a plan for commercial exploitation.


Projects can last up to three months; they should start by 1st April 2021 and end by 1st July 2021. To lead a project, you can be an organisation of any size. Innovate UK will only award contracts to single legal entities in this competition; however, you can work with other organisations if there is a justifiable reason to employ subcontractors. A total of up to £300,000 is allocated to phase 1. Innovate UK expects to fund up to 6 projects, with each feasibility study R&D contract worth up to £50,000. If phase 2 goes ahead, up to £900,000 will be allocated for each contract.

This competition opens on 23rd November 2020 and will close on 13th January 2021. For more information, please visit the competition page. To discuss an application with one of our expert advisers, please contact us today.

Are you still looking for the right grant funding opportunity? If so, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter to receive the latest competitions directly to your inbox.

£2 million available for sustainable plastic packaging projects

Innovate UK is investing up to £2 million in early-stage projects through the Future Plastic Packaging Solutions competition. This forms part of the wider Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, which aims to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain and reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the environment.


This competition will support feasibility studies and industrial research projects that address widely known problems related to plastic packaging. Innovate UK aims to fund projects with either direct or indirect commercial outcomes for the partners.  Additionally, proposals should explain how their innovation addresses one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets.

Projects must deliver one or more of the following:

  • a more circular plastic packaging value chain, with reduced environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions and improved recyclability
  • improved understanding of effective communication techniques to increase recycling rates and uptake of re-use/refill business models
  • more consistent data and increased knowledge relevant to the supply chain.

You can find more information on in-scope projects, including specific themes, here.


Projects can last up to 18 months, starting by 1st June 2021 and ending by 30th November 2022. To lead a project or work alone, your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size, charity, non-government body or not-for-profit. It must carry out its project work in the UK and intend to exploit its results from or in the UK. If you are planning to work collaboratively, you can find the full eligibility criteria here.

To find out more, visit the ISCF Future Plastic Packaging Solutions competition page. Alternatively, if you'd like to discuss your project with one of our expert advisers, please contact us today.

Are you still looking for the right grant funding opportunity? If so, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter today to receive the latest competitions directly to your inbox.

European Green Deal: €1 billion available for innovative projects

One of the European Commission’s top priorities is to tackle climate change and make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. As a result, the Commission has launched a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that respond to the climate crisis. Funded by Horizon 2020, the European Green Deal Call aims to drive Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.

Due to the urgency of the challenges it addresses, the Green Deal Call aims for clear, discernible results in the short to medium-term, but with a perspective of long-term change. Therefore, there are fewer, but more targeted, larger and visible actions. The focus is on rapid scalability, dissemination, and uptake.


The projects funded under this call must deliver results with tangible benefits in ten areas. Firstly, there are eight thematic areas reflecting the key work streams of the European Green Deal:

  1. Increasing climate ambition
  2. Clean, affordable and secure energy
  3. Industry for a clean and circular economy
  4. Energy and resource efficient buildings
  5. Sustainable and smart mobility
  6. Farm to fork
  7. Biodiversity and ecosystems
  8. Zero-pollution, toxic-free environments

Secondly, there are two horizontal areas: strengthening knowledge and empowering citizens. They offer a longer-term perspective in achieving the transformations set out in the European Green Deal.

Furthermore, we are pleased to confirm that UK scientists, researchers, and businesses are eligible to apply for this funding. UKRI has confirmed that projects will receive funding for the lifetime of Green Deal projects, even if they continue beyond 31st December 2020 (when the UK’s period of transition out of the EU ends).

The closing date for applications is 26th January 2021, with selected projects expected to start in autumn 2021. For our assistance in putting together a competitive proposal, contact us today.