The Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) Challenge fund will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £1.5 million in innovation projects. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).


The aim of this competition is to improve the competitiveness of our Foundation Industry sector by helping it to become more environmentally sustainable.

Your project must address the resource productivity or energy performance opportunities of the sector and its supply chains.

Your project must focus on the development of new:

  • markets
  • business models
  • products and services manufactured by the sector
  • products and services created by suppliers to the sector
  • processes

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

  • energy costs and optimisation such as heat or energy recovery and reuse
  • process measurement, optimisation and digitisation, such as sensor technology or digital tools
  • waste recycling, utilisation and symbiosis, such as reuse of waste or industrial symbiosis

This list is not exhaustive, and other technologies or projects that clearly fall within scope of the Challenge will be welcomed.


Interested in applying for this competition?

Book a 30-minute consultation

Our team are available to discuss your innovative business, your project ideas and how we can help you to write a successful application for this Grant Funding opportunity.

Use the calendar to select and book a consultation with one of our experts, at a time that’s convenient for you.


Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £75,000 and £250,000
  • start on 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 January 2023
  • last from 3 months to 12 months
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project’s duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with UK registered businesses, academic institutions, research organisations, not-for-profits, or research and technology organisations (RTOs)
  • involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business
  • academic institution
  • research organisation
  • not-for-profit
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

Funding Costs

Up to £1.5 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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 feasibility studies and 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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • focus on fuel switching or greenhouse gas capture technology
  • do not focus on foundation industries and their immediate supply chains
  • respond only to the skills needs of foundation industries
  • are capital or infrastructure projects
  • have total eligible project costs of below £75,000 or above £250,000
  • dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

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