Accelerated Knowledge Transfer 3 (AKT3) 2024: Circular Fashion

UK registered academic institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £1m for innovation projects with businesses or not-for-profits.

Opportunity Details


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The maximum grant will be £35,000 per project. The Knowledge Base will be the sole grant recipient. The Business Partner must contribute 10% (minimum) of the total project costs in cash.


Innovate UK

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The Innovate UK Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) scheme will support a Knowledge Base partner, in working with their Business Partner, to deliver a short, rapid and targeted intervention. This intervention will accelerate the evaluation or development of an innovation project or concept, with the potential for a significant impact for the Business Partner.

Projects must be in the thematic area of circular fashion.

The Knowledge Base partner must be eligible to register to participate in the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme but does not have to be registered with KTP.

Each Innovate UK AKT project will establish a new partnership or consolidate an existing collaboration between the Knowledge Base and the Business Partner through knowledge exchange activity. The application must be submitted by the Knowledge Base partner but will be developed in partnership with the Business Partner. The Knowledge Base will be the sole grant recipient.

If you are a business and do not yet have a relationship with a knowledge base partner, contact your local knowledge base to discuss this opportunity in more detail.

  • Each Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) project is a partnership between a:

    • UK knowledge base, acting as lead organisation and submitting the application
    • UK registered business or not for profit organisation

    Business partners cannot work alone. They must develop the project with a UK knowledge base who can provide the right skills to meet the knowledge gap within the business.

    We encourage business partners to approach knowledge bases directly to discuss the suitability of AKT for their specific circumstances.

    To collaborate with a knowledge base, the business partner must:

    • be a UK registered business or not for profit organisation
    • have four or more full time equivalent employees
    • complete the application form in partnership with the knowledge base partner
    • provide the knowledge base with evidence of their ability to financially support their contribution
    • be able to host the associate and provide them with supervisory support

    The knowledge base partner must lead the project and must:

    • be a UK registered higher education (HE) or further education (FE) institution, research technology organisation (RTO) or Catapult
    • invite one UK registered business, not for profit organisation into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) application
    • provide a minimum of 0.25 days per week of supervision to the project
    • not have ownership of 50% or more of the business partner or a controlling interest through a shareholder agreement
    • ensure that none of the proposed academic team are directors, consultants or otherwise engaged by the business or group
  • Projects must run for two, three or four months only. The maximum grant will be £35,000 per project. The Business Partner must contribute 10% (minimum) of the total project costs in cash. There is no upper limit to the cash contribution of the business.

    Your application must be for a specific innovation project in the thematic area of circular fashion.

    Projects can be for any kind of project and must show:

    • why the business needs this Accelerated Knowledge Transfer (AKT) project
    • how the project will accelerate access to Knowledge Base expertise and evaluate or develop an innovative idea for the Business Partner
    • how it will stimulate demand within the Business Partner to deliver further innovations and accelerate delivery through partnership with the UK’s Knowledge Base

    AKTs are typically advertised on a full-time basis. The Associate role will be supported through project costs of up to 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE), for the duration of the project. The Associate role can be delivered by a maximum of 2 people. The Associate role can be delivered virtually; however, applications should demonstrate how the project team will work and communicate effectively as a team. All academic supervision must be delivered weekly.

  • AKT projects will seek to de-risk innovation and support the transition for scalable circular and sustainable solutions within fashion’s supply chain to meet Net Zero Targets before 2050.

    Within the context of AKT, projects may explore:

    • transparency and accountability of carbon footprint: reducing the environmental impact, design interventions, sourcing, and production of garments, decarbonising
    • sustainable manufacturing and design interventions for circularity and improved efficiency and output. For example, ground-breaking circularity-minded processes to support sustainable manufacturing for example, minimising use of water and solvents during production to less dependency on virgin materials and resources improved efficiencies, nature positive
    • addressing scope three emissions: emissions that businesses are indirectly responsible for through the actions of suppliers, distributors, and use of its products by consumers, tend to account for the largest proportion of an organisation’s carbon footprint
    • use of AI: efficient agile supply chains, enabling traceability in the supply chain (visibility across all tiers of manufacturing), to better demand planning transforming how shoppers find and buy clothes
    • transformative technologies and materials for example, to supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), on demand production to zero waste to supply chains of the future

    This is not an exhaustive list. Other challenge areas that address fundamental issues within the fashion and textile industry that need resolving are welcome.

    We are not funding projects that:

    • are not innovative and are not addressing an industry challenge
    • will have a negative impact on the environment
    • do not economically benefit the UK’s fashion and textile industry
  • Innovate UK will hold a briefing on 1 July: a recording will be made available afterwards, details to follow.

    If you would like help to find a knowledge base partner, contact Innovate UK Business Connect’s Knowledge Transfer Advisers for help with this.

    If you are a knowledge base partner and would like to find a business to apply with, contact Innovate UK Business Connect’s Materials team.


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