Overview

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.

Scope

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.

At completion, Innovate UK expect projects to deliver a well-informed and viable design concept for an innovative product, service or business model, along with actionable next steps for development and towards commercialisation.

The new designs may be for either business-to-business or business-to-consumer applications. Where possible, the new design should enable reuse or product life-extension approaches over recycling. Design and investigation of new business models and consideration of driving behaviour change are also encouraged. If the focus of your project is ‘Design for Recycling’ then the outcome must be compatible with existing recycling infrastructure and technology.

Applicants should clearly describe where revenue generation and growth will occur in the UK as a result of the innovation and its exploitation. The benefits of the new approach should be quantified as far as possible, and any assumptions regarding market size and environmental impacts described and justified.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects across:

  • sectors, including but not limited to packaging, transport, construction, healthcare, agriculture and consumer products;
  • design disciplines including but not limited to industrial, product, user experience (UX) and service design (all with a human-centred approach)

Eligibility

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • claim funding by entering their costs into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) during the application

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Businesses can work alone or in collaboration with project partners.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business/academic institution/charity/not-for-profit/public sector organisation/research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited by the lead organisation

The lead and at least one other organisation (if a collaboration) must claim funding by entering their costs into Innovation Funding Service during the application.

Project Costs

Up to £800,000 has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £20,000 and £80,000
  • start by 1 January 2021 and end by 30 June 2021
  • last between 3 and 6 months

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request.

Exclusions

Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • develop a novel product or component which is single-use
  • involve the production of any kind of fuel or direct energy generation from plastic waste
  • create any form of ‘Design for Recycling’ guidance

 

Interested in applying for this competition?

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