To make it easier to navigate the funding landscape, KTN have pulled together the latest open relevant funding calls for the manufacturing and materials sectors into one place.  Find out more details about each below, or if you wish to find out more about further funding opportunities then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Manufacturing and Materials teams. Last updated: 15th January 2020.

See our Covid-19 funding round-up for all Covid-related funding calls.

ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs

Now extended to End of May 2021

The aim of the HVM Catapult Made Smarter Smart Factory Innovation Hubs pilot will be to allow businesses to test quick-fire projects and early-stage technologies in a safe, industry-like environment with expert support.

The Made Smarter offering, delivered by the HVM (High Value Manufacturing) Catapult, will consist of sixteen physical and virtual hubs, giving businesses from sectors like food and drink, pharmaceuticals or aerospace an opportunity to see how they can address live business problems using industrial digital technologies.. Watch the recording of the Concepts & Collaboration Building workshop webinar here.

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Made Smarter Technology Accelerator – Digital Catapult

Delivered by Digital Catapult, funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, as part of the national Made Smarter movement, Made Smarter Technology Accelerator is a national programme, set to fast forward and shape the UK’s technology innovation for the UK’s industrial sector.

Made Smarter Technology Accelerator will see the UK’s pioneering technology innovation community join forces with some of the UK’s leading medium and large industrial businesses, to answer some of the sectors most prevalent challenges. The unique acceleration programme provides the funding (up to £20k per team for prototyping and a further £100k for minimum viable products) and a platform to produce industry transforming prototypes, proofs of concepts and minimum viable products in order to drive productivity, digitalisation and innovation to push forward the fourth industrial revolution.

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Innovate UK Smart Grants: November 2020

Opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from Innovate UK to deliver disruptive R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy. Project costs £25k-£2m. Apply by 20th Jan 2021.

Click here for full details.


Digital Catalyst

An initiative by Autodesk’s “Future of British Manufacturing” program, the Digital Catalyst matches SMEs with a digital manufacturing specialist from a leading university to run potential digital transformation projects. The projects need to impact the way you design or make your products and you need to be a UK based design or manufacturing business. This is an ongoing program with no specific deadline. For more information, click here.


ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging: Future Plastic Packaging Solutions Competition

Competition closes: Wednesday 20 January 2021 11:00am

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme for early-stage projects.

The Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products. Its goals are to deliver cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies and industrial research that addresses widely known problems in relation to plastic packaging for consumer products.

You must explain how you are innovating to address one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets. The benefits of the new approach must be quantified in terms of the Pact targets where possible. Any environmental impacts must be described and justified.

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

3rd Nov – Online briefing event: watch back the recording

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ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging: Demonstrators (Expression of Interest)

Opens in February 2021 – £16m fund. Grants from £1m up to a maximum grant of potentially £12m.
For ambitious, large scale Demonstration Projects which are business led and collaborative.

All projects must:
• support the UK to deliver one or more of the UK Plastic Pact targets
• clearly explain how they would reduce the UK plastic packaging system’s overall environmental impact
• utilise innovation in design, technology, processes, business models, supply chains or data for plastic packaging

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ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging: Business-led Research & Development (BLR&D)

Opens in March 2021 – £8m fund – grants between £200k and £4m
For Research and Development Projects which are Business-Led.

All projects must:
• support the UK to deliver one or more of the UK Plastic Pact targets
• clearly explain how they would reduce the UK plastic packaging system’s overall environmental impact

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Measurement for Recovery

NPL (National Physical Laboratory) and its partner National Measurement Laboratories are committed to supporting the UK Government’s plans for economic recovery by providing specialist measurement advice and short-term projects to companies at no charge. NPL’s leadership of the M4R programme is just one of the many ways it is supporting the national effort and responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

What is the Measurement for Recovery (M4R) programme?

World-leading measurement solutions are critical to business and government, accelerating research and innovation, improving quality of life and enabling trade. Measurement for Recovery helps solve analysis or measurement issues that cannot be resolved using standard technologies and techniques. Our aim is to help boost resilience and competitiveness by bringing together the UK’s top scientists and facilities with companies, to address problems in innovative ways.

Find out more here. Open until end Dec 2020.


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Current KTP period: Opens: 02/11/20; Close date: 27.01.20 (after this the next round will be available immediately, so don’t rush your application unnecessarily)

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)  links your organisation with one of the UK’s world-class knowledge bases (a university or research organisation) to power strategic innovation projects, embed expertise and drive commercial growth. needed to develop it, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership may be the answer. It creates a dynamic three-way collaboration – between a business or not for profit organisation, a UK university or research organisation, and a suitably qualified graduate – to help realise a strategic innovation project, bring about transformative change and embed new capability.

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Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Just like our highly effective KTP programme, Management KTPs (MKTPs) create a dynamic 3-way partnership between your company, a team of academic experts and a skilled graduate. The focus of a MKTP is specifically on increasing effectiveness and improving results through better management practices.

These have the same funding deadlines as KTPs – click here for full details.


ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries: large collaborative R&D projects

Competition closes: Wednesday 10 March 2021 11:00am

nnovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £8 million for collaborative cross-sector, research and development projects.

The aim of this competition is to improve the productivity and competitiveness of foundation industry companies and supply chains, by funding cross-sector collaborative research and development projects.

Your project must work on resource and energy efficiency challenges common to 2 or more of the foundation industries.

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Henry Royce Institute: SME Equipment Access Scheme

The Royce SME Equipment Access Scheme (formerly the Materials Accelerator Token Scheme) is open to UK-based SMEs, spin-outs and start-ups and offers subsidised facilities access, perfect for businesses seeking solutions to materials analysis obstacles.

The scheme is designed to:

  • overcome cost barriers and derisk experimental materials-based R&D
  • help pave the way for future collaborations with Royce

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Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund

The UK Government announced £315m of funding in the 2018 Annual Budget to support businesses with high energy use to transition to a low carbon future and to cut their bills and emissions through increased energy efficiency. The Scottish Government will administer a separate fund over a similar timeframe. In September 2020, Scotland’s Programme for Government announced that £34m would be made available over the next five years, an additional £8m to the anticipated budget transfer from UK Government, to support Scotland’s manufacturing base.

The SIETF consists of two competitions, and will award match-funding for:

  • Deployment of mature energy efficiency technologies that improve industrial process energy efficiency and reduce energy demand.
  • Feasibility and engineering studies for projects deploying mature energy efficiency technologies or deep decarbonisation technologies. These technical and economic assessments of potential projects reduce risks and provide more accurate cost estimates, enabling decision-makers to make informed investment choices.

Briefing event – Dec 15th, 11;00 – 12:30

For details of the recording, e-mail

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Smarter Choices

Smarter Choices forms part of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Energy Innovation Programme. It has been awarded funding through the Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE) competition which offers up to £6 million of funding for innovative solutions that reduce transaction costs and encourage the take up of energy efficiency by SMEs in the commercial sectors.

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KTN’s Innovation Exchange

KTN’s Innovation Exchange is helping several organisations search for innovative solutions to real-world challenges. The challengers range from Artemis Technologies who is looking for battery systems for a zero-emission passenger ferry to the Department for International Trade who is collaborating with Indian city authorities to find improve waste management practices.

The advantage of the Innovation Exchange is that it allows organisations to tap into KTN’s diverse network to find novel solutions to industry challenges, often from outside their traditional sector. It is a mechanism to allow challengers to break sectoral barriers and access market-ready solutions.

Innovators get the opportunity to work with large corporates, often on a commercial basis, via a short application form, presenting their ideas. The challenge owner selects the ideas that are of best fit for solving their challenge and then looks to collaborate further.

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Circular Economy Fund (WRAP Cymru)

This £6.5m fund will offer grants to businesses of any size seeking capital investment funding to increase their use of recycled materials in manufactured products, components or packaging. WRAP Cymru will administer the fund on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Organisations of any size, which are operating in Wales, may apply for a capital grant to invest in infrastructure and equipment for eligible circular activities. Small Scale grants are now available from £6,000 to €200,000 (the maximum de minimis threshold) and Large Scale grants are available from €200,000 to £750,000.

Click here to find out more (applications assessed quarterly). Changes have been made to the fund in response to Covid-19, and a webinar outlining these was held on 21st May – recording available here.



Qu4lity is the biggest European project dedicated to Autonomous Qu4lity (AQ) and Zero Defect Manufacturing (ZDM) in the Industry 4.0.

Qu4lity will demonstrate, in a realistic, measurable and replicable way an open, certifiable and highly standardised, SME-friendly and transformative shared data-driven ZDM product and service model for Factory 4.0 through 14 pilot lines.

Qu4lity will also demonstrate how European industry can build unique and highly tailored ZDM strategies and competitive advantages through an orchestrated open platform ecosystem, ZDM atomized components and digital enablers across all phases of product and process lifecycle. The main goal is to build an autonomous quality model to meet the Industry 4.0 ZDM challenges.

Qu4lity has started the 1st of January of 2019 and will last 39 months.

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Made Smarter North West pilot

The Made Smarter programme is designed to support manufacturers, engineers, makers and creators with facilities or operations in Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region to grow through adoption of new technologies. The Made Smarter pilot can help you understand which new industrial technology application is right for your operations and help you to develop a strategy for implementation that fits in with your core business needs.

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Bounce Back Loan Scheme

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) provides financial support to businesses across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and that can benefit from £50,000 or less in finance.

The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees. Please note that as of 2 November, the Government has announced that the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) will be extended until 31 January 2021.

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Opportunity: Clean Growth UK

Through its three university hubs, Clean Growth UK provides and brokers support focused on developing innovations, commercialising ideas, and securing funding for businesses on a mission to protect the planet for future generations.

Clean Growth UK offer in-house support, as well as connecting you with innovation and growth support available through other organisations. All in-house support is either free or part-funded.

To work with Clean Growth UK, you must be a member. Membership is free, and you get access to a suite of downloadable business resources, a regular newsletter highlighting the latest regional green business opportunities and the opportunity to apply for free and part-funded support.

Find out more and join for free here



Zero Waste Scotland Circular Economy Investment Fund

The Circular Economy Investment Fund is a funding opportunity for small and medium sized businesses and organisations in Scotland working in all business and social economy sectors.  Zero Waste Scotland are investing up to £18 in grant funding for businesses;

  • Exploring markets for new circular economy products
  • Development and adoption of innovative business models for new circular economy products and services
  • Development and uptake of innovative technologies, products and services to support a circular economy

Read More (applications ongoing, 30 day turnaround, projects can run until June 2023)

KTN’s sector teams are experts in navigating the funding landscape. If you need any guidance regarding the opportunities above or you would like help finding other funding opportunities please contact our Manufacturing and Materials teams.

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