Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £10 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

All projects must be led by a business and include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Proposals can either be from a single business or a collaboration.

This competition is round 3 of 3.

  • Round 1: temporary framework (closed 29 July 2020)
  • Round 2: de Minimis (closed 2 September 2020)
  • Round 3: temporary framework (this competition)

The cumulative aid that any organisation may receive under the Temporary Framework must not exceed 800,000 euros in total. Any aid provided under de minimis is in addition to this allowance. If you have been awarded a continuity grant or any other funding under the Temporary Framework, then any money awarded through this competition funding will count towards your 800,000 euro limit. If you are unsure if any previous funding fell under the Temporary Framework, please contact the funding body that issued you with your award.

If you wish to carry out R&D activity in the agricultural sector you cannot use your grant to pay primary producers of agricultural products. Some examples of activities of primary producers are: farming, fishing and livestock rearing.

Primary producers of agricultural, fishery and aquaculture, as defined by Regulation No 1308/2013 and Regulation No 1379/2013 of the EU, can participate as a project partner in this competition but cannot claim more than £75,000 per organisation.

Your project

There is no minimum or maximum limit on your total project costs.

Each funded partner can claim up to 80% of their eligible project costs, up to a maximum of £175,000.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) if the lead is not one
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • be able to carry out project work under the current restrictions of COVID-19
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone.

Sole traders are not eligible to apply for this competition.

Under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework your organisation could get up to 80% funding for your eligible project costs, up to a maximum of £175,000 per organisation, regardless of size.

Research organisations working in collaboration undertaking non-economic activity will be funded as follows:

  • universities: 80% of full economic costs
  • all other research organisations: 100% of eligible costs

We will provide up to £50,000 to each grant-claiming organisation as an advance on grant payment 10 working days after the return of a fully-signed grant offer letter (GOL). This will be taken off the first and any subsequent claims.

Your proposal

COVID-19 has affected R&D across all sectors, and the aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

Your proposal must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of COVID-19, including the sudden shortage or availability of finance, and how your project can help solve them.

In addition, your proposal must consider its impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability.

We would also like you to address where necessary equality, diversity and inclusion in relation to your project, the partner organisations and your approach to innovation.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, regions, technological maturities and research categories, including the themes listed below.

Specific themes

Your project can also focus on:

  • 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

Online briefing event

A briefing event will be held online at 1.30pm on 7th September: register here.

Extra help

The Knowledge Transfer Network’s (KTN’s) Good Application Guide aims to help you prepare the best application for Innovate UK competitions. This guide has been produced by KTN to supplement the official Innovate UK guidance for applicants. You can also contact KTN for support in finding project partners and providing independent, objective feedback on your application.

In working towards a more sustainable future, the Horizon tool can help test your strategy, inform commercial decisions and drive new innovation within a sustainable economy. Contact KTN to discuss the big trends and issues in your marketplace.