Design Exchange Partnerships: design the green transition

Apply for funding to develop design-based solutions for specific net zero and climate crisis challenges facing UK coastal and island communities.

Opportunity Details


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The full economic cost of your project can be up to £40,000, plus a 5 to 10% non-academic partner organisation contribution. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

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You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for AHRC funding.

We are particularly keen to receive applications from multidisciplinary design researchers, especially those in the early stages of their career.

Your project could focus on:

  • decarbonisation
  • environmental sustainability
  • climate mitigation
  • the circular economy
  • the reduction of waste.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £40,000, plus a 5 to 10% non-academic partner organisation contribution. AHRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Researchers and supervisors must be based at a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-eligible research organisation or independent research organisation.

Non-academic partners must be either a:

  • micro or small and medium-sized enterprise-sized, UK registered business, charity or not-for-profit
  • similarly sized department of a public sector organisation

This first full round will focus on the specific net zero+ and climate emergency challenges faced by the UK’s island and coastal communities.

A range of different types of design intervention can be supported, from product or service level innovation through to strategic, systems-level design thinking.

Individual project objectives might be:

  • the design of an everyday product from sustainable materials
  • devising a new form of service delivery that supports the business’s growth while reducing its overall carbon footprint
  • identifying user needs for low carbon products and services
  • the development of roadmaps towards circular business models.

The project should demonstrate human-centred design research processes. You can include activities to:

  • identify high-value innovation opportunities and define what makes a desirable, fit-for-purpose solution
  • create ideas for new or significantly improved products or services
  • test and improve ideas by using fast, low-cost visuals, prototypes or simulations
  • clearly communicate ideas ready for further investment and research and development activity.


You should aim to start your project no later than 1 February 2023 and end your project no later than 31 January 2024.

Projects will be funded at 80% full economic cost (FEC) with a minimum non-academic partner contribution of 10% of FEC (5% for micro organisations, defined in the Department for International Trade small and medium-sized enterprises action plan (PDF, 289KB). Part of this contribution can be in kind, up to 5% of FEC.

Programme launch workshop

In support of applications to this opportunity, Future Observatory will host a programme launch workshop in September 2022. This is facilitated by the commissioning team at AHRC alongside Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and its expert network of Knowledge Transfer Advisers.

This will provide an opportunity to hear more about the aims of the programme and to ask questions of the commissioning team.

You will be able to:

  • identify whether the scheme is a good fit for your project or partnership
  • hear more about the opportunities and common pitfalls of academic, industry or public sector collaborations
  • receive in-depth guidance on the application process.

A recording of this event will be hosted on Future Observatory’s website and linked on the application portal.

Application development surgeries

In October, we will be running a series of application development surgeries. These will provide an opportunity for you to talk through your proposed project and partnership in 15 minute private sessions with KTN and AHRC representatives and receive pre-application feedback and suggestions.

Although these events will be beneficial in addressing any queries and uncertainties you may have, it is not compulsory and will not form part of the assessment process.


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