Sustainable Innovation Fund round 1 - frequently asked questions

Posted on: 20/07/2020

Two opportunities are currently available as part of Innovate UK‘s £191m Sustainable Innovation Fund, a fund to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

  • SBRI competition – closes 5 August – this is looking to fund showcase projects that will help UK businesses and/or the public sector recover from the economic impact of the Coronavirus by supporting the R&D activities that will make new sustainable products and services available to the market.
  • Round 1 Temporary Framework competition – closes 29 July – this is looking to fund R&D across all sectors, to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic. Proposals must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and must consider the impact project has on climate change and/or environmental sustainability.

These two competitions are part of a series that will be run over the next few months – for details click here. To help you understand more about the differences between the two competitions that are currently live and help you decide which is the most appropriate for you to apply to, we have produced some FAQs in partnership with Innovate UK.


What do you mean by sustainability?

The UK Government has made a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. By encouraging a clean growth led the recovery from the economic impact of the Coronavirus the UK looks to support sustainable growth, continuing progress toward this net-zero target whilst creating jobs and growing the economy.


Can subcontractors be more than 30% project cost? Do subcontractors need to be in the UK?

In SBRI subcontractors can represent more than 30% of total project costs, however, if individual sub-contractors are undertaking a large amount of the project work, assessors might question why they aren’t leading the overall project. Sub-contractors can be from outside of the UK but the inclusion of any sub-contractor must be justified to reflect why they are best suited to participate, and how they represent value for money to the project.

For Rounds 1, 2 and 3 the subcontracting costs should be appropriate for the work being done and always clearly justified and explained. A large number of UK businesses are struggling to find opportunities you would need a very strong argument for using overseas subcontractors.


Can you have multiple Innovate UK grants? (eg follow-on grants, grants for different projects, can you submit more than one application for different projects into the same competition?)

You can submit other applicants alongside an SBRI, round 1, 2 or 3 application and even submit several different applications to the different competitions. but you should content yourself that you have the capacity to deliver all of the projects concurrently if you are fortunate enough to win them. Innovate UK won’t fund businesses to conduct the same work in different projects.


Do the projects have to be based in the UK? Can you work with international collaborators?

Your projects need to be aimed at helping UK businesses and/ or the UK public sector recover from the economic impact of the Coronavirus.

For SBRI, any organisation in the EU Economic Area can apply to this call. You do not need to base your work in the UK, but you must demonstrate how it will specifically help UK businesses and/ or the public sector.

For Round 1, 2 and 3 the work must be done in the UK and only UK-registered organisations can be funded. You can work with international collaborators, but they will not be funded by Innovate UK.


Where can I access the briefing slides and recordings?

The video recording of both SBRI and Temporary Framework briefing event is available here.


Can I resubmit a previous application? I have been told I can’t resubmit an application more than once unless it is materially different. What do you mean by “materially different”?

You can submit an idea you have previously submitted to these competitions, but to be successful you would need to clearly demonstrate how the R&D activities you conduct will result in you bringing a product or service to market which will address the challenge outlined in the briefs.

A “materially different” application is one that has significant changes from its previous submission that might alter its outputs, costs or time.


Where can the match funding come from?

SBRI does not require match funding. Lead organisations can recover 100% of their eligible costs, without profit.

For Round 1, 2 and 3 the match funding [CT1] can come from any legitimate source, such as investors, personal savings, bank loans friends, and family.


Can a charity apply? Community Interest Company? Not-for-profit company?

For SBRI any organisation of any size in the EU Economic Area can apply, but you will need to convince assessors that you have not only the capacity and capability to conduct the R&D work, but also the intention and ability to bring the resulting product successfully to market.

For Round 1, 2 and 3 the lead applicant must be a business, and the requirement for an SME is specific to each round so it’s important to read the eligibility criteria on each brief carefully.

Not for profits and Community Interest Companies can be classed as either business or research organisation, depending on what type of research they’re doing: economic (the output generates something that leads to monetary gain) or non-economic.


Do I need to apply for the first round of competitions, in order to apply for further rounds?

For SBRI, you need to apply for Phase 1 to be considered for Phase 2.

For Round 1,2 and 3 you do not need to have applied for previous rounds.


For detailed information about both competitions, links to the briefings and an online FAQ session, click here.

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