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Manufacturing and Materials Funding Round-Up

Posted on 10/01/2020

Find out about the latest funding calls which are relevant to the Manufacturing and Materials sectors. Last updated 3rd July 2020.

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.

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

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Current KTP period opened on 7th May, and closes on 15th July 2020 (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.

The first round of these has now closed – visit to be kept informed about future MKTPs.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund: round 1 (temporary framework)

An investment of up to £55m to fund single and collaborative research and development projects to help organisations across the economy recover from Covid-19 in a clean and resilient way.

Must include at least one SME
Round 2 – De Minimis (opening July 2020)
Projects to consider Covid-19 recovery in a way that has a positive impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability
Projects up to £500k, £175k per organisation, 3 and 9 months
Closes: 29th July
An online briefing event was held on 3rd July and a link to the recording is here. You can also view KTN’s informal Q&A session here.

Find out more

Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 1, advancing PEMD supply chain

Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 to UK industry, Driving the Electric Revolution (part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund) is investing up to £5 million in innovation projects that will support the UK’s continued push towards net zero carbon.

This is part of a larger effort to catalyse the green economic recovery in transport, energy and industrial sectors.

In this strand, up to £5 million will be invested in business-led innovation projects that enable UK supply chain and manufacturing capability growth in power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD). Projects will facilitate future improvements in productivity, capacity, quality or efficiency.

Closing date 29th July 2020. For more information, click here.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund: SBRI Phase 1

Larger clean-tech projects of up to £3m that are pathfinders to the UK’s net-zero ambitions.

Phase 1: Research and development contracts, feasibility study

Phase 2 (open to Phase 1 participants only): up to £3m, Research and development contracts, prototype development and testing

Work with identified potential future customers to: 1) ‘build back better’ from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic; 2) help deliver on the government’s Clean Growth Strategy and net zero ambition
Projects up to £60,000, including VAT (Phase 1)
Closes: 5th August

Find out more

ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries Hub pre-announcement

Opening date: 08 July 2020
Closing date: 03 September 2020 at 17:00

The Transforming Foundation Industries ISCF Challenge will be investing up to £4.7m in a Research and Innovation Hub which will be delivered by EPSRC on behalf of UKRI. The aim of this Challenge is to enable the foundation industries (made of six separate sectors: metal, glass, ceramics, paper, cement and chemicals) to work together to address their common challenges of competitiveness and sustainability. The Research and Innovation Hub call is a cross-Council opportunity that aims to fund a new cross-sector and multi-disciplinary research centre for the ‘ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries’ programme that will work to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models within the Foundation Industries.

UKRI in collaboration with the KTN will hold a webinar and online networking event for this call on the 9th of July. Registration details can be found here.

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UK Circular Plastics Flagship Projects Competition

Closing date: 6 August, 2020 – 13:00

WRAP, working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation, is pleased to be delivering this £1.4 million grant programme. This competition was advertised in December 2018. Awards were made during 2019 and we are now pleased to announce the successful awards. The overall aim of the programme is to support the delivery of the UK Government’s target of achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042 and the objectives of The UK Plastics Pact.

Round 2 – Refill Infrastructure Grant – new opportunity June 2020
This new £475,000 scheme is open to applicants looking to trial and pilot new interventions that will implement refill infrastructure within an existing or new supply chain. WRAP is inviting Expressions of Interest from eligible applicants with project proposals that have strong commercial potential to reduce the use of single use primary plastic packaging. Projects should also offer significant opportunity to challenge and change the status quo, by changing the way retailers and their associated supply chain partners manage and design their supply chains in order to incorporate new refill options for their customers.

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EUREKA GlobalStars Japan

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million to develop innovative proposals with Japan and other EUREKA participating members. Your project must focus on industrial research. Projects should result in a new product, industrial process or service, be innovative and involve a technological risk.

Closing date 10th September 2020. For more information, click here.

Designing sustainable plastic solutions

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £800,000 to fund early-stage, human-centred design projects to reduce the harm that plastics have on our environment and to therefore increase productivity and growth of the UK economy. This funding is from the Plastic Research and Innovation Fund.

This aim of this competition is to help businesses to create designs for innovative goods, services or business models that will result in less persistent plastic waste entering our environment. This should be achieved by them obtaining a better understanding of relevant customer and user behaviours.

This competition aims to stimulate innovation in design to reduce persistent plastic waste from landfill or entering the environment.

Your project should follow established human-centred research and design principles. It could involve working with new or existing partners, in new ways, and it must involve hands-on customer/user research as a means of informing and testing novel ideas. These ideas could include the radical re-design of existing goods, services or business models, or the design of entirely new ones which serve an existing need in a way that doesn’t rely on single-use plastic.

Here the term ‘design’ is understood broadly to include all necessary disciplines to arrive at a new design specification, and could include contributions from engineering, materials science, service design, circular design and systems thinking.


For more information, click here. Closing date: 16th September 2020.

Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, feasibility studies

UK registered businesses can apply for funding towards feasibility studies into digital technologies to transform supply chains in UK manufacturing. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Projects must help UK manufacturing supply chains develop digital technologies to become more efficient, productive, flexible, resilient. These must encourage the use of digital approaches to better integrate and optimise the performance of supply chains.

A series of workshops are being organised to explore the opportunities for using digital solutions to improve and re-engineer existing manufacturing supply chains, design new supply chain solutions and to help collaborators develop their applications for the Manufacturing Made Smarter supply chain competition.

10th July : Pharma

16th July : General

21st July : Food & Drink

31st July : Aerospace & Automotive

Register for the workshops here

A briefing event will take place on 14 July to discuss the scope of the competition.  Register here

Competition Details

Opens: Monday 6 July
Closes: Wednesday 7 October

More information here

EUREKA GlobalStars Singapore CRD – Round 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1m to develop innovative proposals with Singapore and other EUREKA participating members. Projects are expected to result in a new product, industrial process or service, be innovative, involve a technological risk, and have high market potential in the participating countries.

Closing date 15th October 2020. For more details, click here.

Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) industrial energy efficiency

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £30 million for grants to carry out feasibility and engineering studies into energy efficiency and decarbonisation.

To develop either an energy efficiency or a deep decarbonisation project that enables possible subsequent deployment
Business-led and must operate at the manufacturing site or data centre
At least £100k (experimental development, up to 24 months) or £60k (feasibility, up to 12 months)
Close: 28th October
Briefing Webinar: 14th & 20th July – Register here

Find out more

IETF deployment of energy efficiency technologies in industry

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £30 million for grants for energy efficiency projects that reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions.

Your project must focus on the deployment of technology that has been proven to work through successful operations and/or is qualified through test and demonstration. The technology must improve the energy efficiency of an industrial process or processes. At the end of the project, you must have installed and begun to operate (or be ready to operate) the energy efficiency technology.
Business-led and must operate at the manufacturing site or data centre
Minimum total grant funding of £250,000
Close: 28th October
Briefing Webinar: 14th & 20th July – Register here

Find out more

ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries: Building a resilient recovery

Projects to support recovery and growth from Covid-19 through innovations that improve the productivity and sustainability of the UK’s foundation industry
Single industry applicants and cross-sector collaborations
Projects up to £1 million
Open: 3rd August. Close: 4th November
Briefing Webinar: (details available soon)
Do not hesitate to contact Robert Quarshie and Ajay Kapadia for further information and KTN support.

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing is a £5.1M project to support the implementation of product and process development, and the introduction of technology to the SME manufacturing sector, in the NE LEP area. The project is part funded by ERDF (£2.6M) and the University of Sunderland, who are investing £2.5M and managing the delivery of this project. This is ongoing until December 2020.

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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.

STFC Bridging for Innovators (B4I) programme

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is a multidisciplinary research organisation that funds and operates a number of large science facilities offering research and development access to commercial users. Through these facilities, and their expert staff, they can provide access to advanced experimental and computational tools to address challenges and opportunities in manufacturing and materials. Their £8 million Bridging for Innovators (B4I) programme is specifically designed to help companies overcome difficult product, manufacturing or process performance issues by providing access to advanced analytical technologies, supporting expertise and capabilities through STFC’s large scale science facilities located around the UK. The competition runs until April 2021, with applications being assessed as they come in.

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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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Designing sustainable plastic solutions

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £800,000 to fund early-stage, human-centred design projects to reduce the harm that plastics have on our environment and to therefore increase productivity and growth of the UK economy. This funding is from the Plastic Research and Innovation Fund.

This aim of this competition is to help businesses to create designs for innovative goods, services or business models that will result in less persistent plastic waste entering our environment. This should be achieved by them obtaining a better understanding of relevant customer and user behaviours.

View the webinar recording here.

Read more



Repurposing of manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment

Proposals for innovation actions targeted under this topic should address the re-orientation and repurposing of production capacities to meet the urgent needs of our societies for vital medical supplies and equipment.

The scope covers:

  • The repurposing, adaptation and ramp-up of production lines to quickly adjust to new and urgent production needs, notably medical equipment (e.g. personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators), diagnostic technologies already deployed based on advanced materials and/or biotechnologies, as well as service systems and automated systems of disinfection,
  • Demonstrate flexibility models for the supply chain for the repurposing of production lines and proper risk management in case of disruption of supply chains (or other necessary means for enabling production, such as energy feedstock),
  • Automation technologies that are less dependent on work force present in factories, certification/calibration/accreditation of production lines that have been repurposed or restarted after a shutdown,
  • Qualification of operators/technicians for new/repurposed production lines.

This focus area addresses any manufacturer able to deliver demonstrators of a flexible 48-hour industrial response capability at scale, to cope with sudden spikes in demand of strategic products (for instance medical equipment such as PPE, respirators), for requalification or release of production lines. Open Innovation Testbeds, laboratories, other technology infrastructures and maker communities may in particular be relevant. The modular solutions for a faster or repurposed production need to be integrated into the appropriate value chains. Also, projects can develop collaborative solutions, such as supply back-up squads, cooperatives, joint adaptations, industrial conversion and technology sharing.

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The Clean Growth Fund

The government is launching a new effort to support green start-up companies across the UK, joint-funding a £40 million venture capital fund to supercharge the development of next generation clean, low-carbon technologies.

The Clean Growth Fund will contribute towards the UK’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050 and will be accessible to UK-based companies driving green technology across the power, transport, waste, and building energy efficiency sectors. Potential examples of projects the fund could support include:

  • energy storage and smart grid systems to bolster resilience in the power system
  • renewable heating and ventilation technologies across homes and commercial buildings
  • bio-fuels and bio-energy systems

With £20 million of government investment matched pound for pound by CCLA, one of the UK’s largest charity fund managers, the fund could reach £100 million by Autumn 2021 through private sector fundraising.

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SUSTAIN's First Call for Feasibility Studies

Closing date: 13th July 2020

The SUSTAIN Future Steel Manufacturing Hub is initially offering funding for three feasibility studies to conduct novel research which aligns with the Hub’s two Grand Challenges: Carbon Neutral Iron and Steelmaking and Smart Steel Processing.

The SUSTAIN Future Steel Manufacturing Research Hub is looking for research projects are aligned to and compliments our current research program. We would like to attract new partners to the project with this call for applications and have potential to lead to further collaborations and future funding bids.

This first call is open to UK academics eligible to receive EPSRC funding and is our primary mechanism to introduce new academic collaborators and develop additional research spokes.

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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.

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Scottish Enterprise: Research and development (R&D) grants

If your company is looking to research and develop a new product, process or service – or significantly improve an existing one – Scottish Enterprise R&D grants can offer a range of support for your project. Your project must be new and innovative – something that your company hasn’t done before. It could be something you’re working on independently or with a commercial partner, or you could be carrying out technical work as part of a collaboration.

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ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries Network Plus

UKRI will shortly be inviting proposals for an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Transforming Foundation Industries Network Plus Grant.

The UK’s Foundation Industries (comprised of Glass, Metals, Cement, Ceramics, Bulk Chemicals and Paper), produce 75% of all the materials in our economy and are vital for the UK’s manufacturing and construction industries. Together, the foundation industries are worth £52Bn to the UK economy and produce 28 million tonnes of materials per year, accounting for circa 10% of the UK total CO2 emissions.

The Network Plus will provide academic leadership across the sectors and organise networking activities such as workshops, events and communications, to build sustained engagement and collaboration. We expect the successful grant to play a strategic role in bringing together relevant participants that cross disciplinary boundaries and stakeholder groups (particularly those from business and industry).  In addition, the leadership and management team will also administer a devolved budget for small projects, encouraging applications from both within and beyond the network membership.

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Energy Catalyst Round 8

Opens: June 2020

The next round of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme is due to launch in June 2020. Up to £20 million will be available to support businesses to develop highly innovative, sustainable energy technologies and business models, which are accelerating the clean energy transition in developing and emerging economies. A particular focus is on addressing the clean energy access challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa and South/South East Asia.

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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.