Net zero living: Pathfinder places

UK registered businesses and local authorities can apply for a share of up to £2 million to plan for a place based demonstration of ways to accelerate progress towards net zero.

Opportunity Details


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Your project’s total grant funding request must be between £50,000 and £75,000.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in innovation projects. These will be for local authorities and businesses to develop detailed local plans for innovative approaches to unlock non-technical systemic barriers to the delivery of net zero targets.

The aim of this competition is to support up to 30 places to develop a plan, with local authorities, to accelerate their transition to net zero. This will be achieved by developing innovative solutions to overcome barriers to implementation.

Your proposal must demonstrate a deep understanding of the opportunities from and non-technical systemic barriers to, delivery of net zero objectives in the area.

You must consider the whole net zero system in your area, including:

  • power
  • heat
  • mobility
  • product manufacture and usage

This must be across domestic, commercial and industrial users, as appropriate for the area. Links to other sectors are also welcome where relevant to the delivery of local net zero targets.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2 phase competition. Successful projects from phase 1 will be invited to apply to a phase 2 competition, for further funding to deliver their phase 1 proposals.

Phase 2 will fund up to 6 Pathfinder places, with up to £8 million per project to deliver your innovative approach to support a fair and equitable transition to net zero in the UK.

Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request between £50,000 and £75,000
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 June 2023
  • last between 1 and 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • demonstrate alignment with current delivery activities within your existing Net Zero Transition Plans or Climate Action Plans
  • be based on existing experience of delivering systems based approaches to net zero
  • be scalable or replicable by other places within the UK
  • have an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy in place for the organisations involved


To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK Local Authority or a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

The term local authority includes, county councils, district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs. Regional collaborations coordinated through bodies such as Combined Authorities are also eligible.

Your project must include eligible partners in its collaboration with a minimum of one local authority and one UK registered business.

We welcome collaborative applications between multiple authorities.

A local authority or business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further single application. If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Specific themes

Your project must:

  • focus on a whole systems approach which considers power, heat, mobility, product manufacture and usage in domestic, commercial and industrial settings, as appropriate for your local area
  • identify and address non-technical systemic barriers, not infrastructure and technical barriers
  • clearly show how the proposal links to your ongoing delivery of your existing net zero plans and development in your area
  • show how you will work to align with other ongoing activities for example in financing and capability provision

Your proposal must address non-technical systemic barriers to delivery including but not limited to:

  • financing
  • capacity, capability and skills
  • consumer engagement and behaviour change
  • policy and regulation
  • system governance
  • common data standards for open source and interoperability
  • ability to influence strategic grid reinforcement


An online briefing event will be held on Monday 31st October, 1.30-3pm: click here to register for a place.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK KTN’s Net Zero Places team.


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