Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £1 million in circular economy innovation projects.

This funding forms part of the UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme (NICER), enabling SMEs to engage with and benefit from access to expertise at five research centres via collaborative research and development (CR&D) activities.

The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development that address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy.

Your proposal must demonstrate how you will create a step-change in the adoption of circular economy approaches.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000
  • start no earlier than 1 April 2022
  • end by 31 March 2023
  • last between 9 and 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must either include at least one of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres as a project partner, or include a letter of support from one of the centres. The letters must demonstrate alignment of the proposed activities to one or more Centres’ aims and objectives.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) business. A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications. An academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or RTO can collaborate on any number of applications (but not lead).

The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development projects that address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy.

Your project must demonstrate how you will create a step-change in the adoption of circular economy approaches.

The broad spectrum of circular economy approaches will be in scope, for example:

  • repair
  • reuse
  • remanufacture
  • recycle
  • regeneration

Projects are particularly encouraged that focus on retaining the maximum amount of value in a product or system.

We aim to fund projects with direct or indirect commercial outcomes for the partners. For example, a project to improve understanding where the outputs would be made freely available to build the knowledge base of the broader NICER programme, would be in scope.

Your project can focus on one or more of the following examples:

  • piloting the introduction of a circular economy business model
  • development or improvement of products and processes to enable remanufacturing, repair and retention of value
  • increasing understanding and exploitation of material flow data in a defined place (for example; city, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), cluster, region)
  • scaling-up of credible circular economy feasibility studies
  • evaluating whether proposed circular economy approaches are more sustainable when considering broader life cycle thinking

Other focus areas that clearly address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy are welcomed.

Your project must align with at least one of the resource flows covered by the Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres:

An online briefing event will be held at 10am on Monday 18th October: click here to register to attend.