SBRI: Circular Economy in the Welsh Public Sector

This challenge seeks sustainable innovations to address the use of single-use products in the public sector across Wales.

Opportunity Details


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We are seeking a broad range of projects, from £50,000 for rapid, potentially low-cost demonstrations to up to £400,000 for large scale demonstrators. SBRIs are not subject to subsidy regulations and up to 100% of costs can be funded.


Welsh Government

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Moving to a circular economy is key to the delivery of environmental outcomes. Crucially, it also has the potential to improve economic and social outcomes in Wales and support value-based healthcare and socially responsible procurement. Aligning with Welsh Government’s commitment to reduce our dependency on single-use plastics as quickly as possible, this challenge seeks to deliver sustainable innovations that will address the use of single-use products in the public sector, supporting increased resilience in Welsh supply chains and encouraging green growth and population wellbeing across Wales. Successful applicants, and their public sector partners, will be expected to deliver demonstration and/or scale and spread innovative projects which can evidence the potential benefits, cost effectiveness and sustainability of their solutions.

Typically, SBRI challenges commence with a Phase 1 Feasibility stage. However, for this challenge we are looking for demonstrations and real-world trials and, therefore, will not be supporting a Phase 1. We are seeking to identify and support the delivery of a combination of both Phase 2 & Phase 3 collaborative projects, that can demonstrate the potential and scalability of emerging and near-market solutions:

  • Designing out waste – reimagining products used in the public sector so that they are designed from the outset to enable more effective reuse, minimise waste and reduce whole-life costs
  • Retaining value for reuse – enabling current ‘waste’ to be repurposed, extracting the value and enabling them to be reused within Wales to reduce the use of virgin materials and potentially supporting revenue generation

The key focus will be on demonstrating sustainability of service, affordability and scalability of solutions that can be delivered at pace – doing better but being cash neutral is not sufficient in the current financial climate, so financial viability will be key. We are looking to test emerging/near-to-market innovations via real-world trials and are not seeking early feasibility/research pieces, at this stage. However, we are seeking rigorous evaluations to create an evidence base for further development and potential scale-up across Wales.

If project applications are seeking to build upon previous trials/small-scale testing, applications must clearly articulate how this funding will help accelerate more widespread development, outlining any previous adoption barriers and demonstrating how these will be addressed.

  • Any organisation can submit an application, although it is expected that opportunities presented by SBRI will be particularly attractive for SMEs. SBRI is aimed at organisations working on the development of an innovative process, material, device, product or service. Successful applications will be those whose technology best addresses the specific needs identified, with the potential to make a measurable improvement to currently available products, processes materials, devices or services. Development contracts will be awarded only to individual organisations. However, organisations may also wish to demonstrate that successful collaboration will enhance their overall development. Work may be subcontracted but this is the responsibility of the main contractor.

    Pre-startup companies may apply, but contracts must be awarded to legal entities.

    Universities may apply, however they must demonstrate a route to market, i.e.the application must include a plan to commercialise the results.

    Additional requirements:

    • All projects must include a named public sector collaborator who has committed to their involvement in the project, evidenced by a signed letter of support;
    • Funding for public sector collaborator costs should be included as a subcontractor cost in the project applications;
    • Projects can include more than one subcontractor. However, the involvement and role of each organisation should be clearly specified, and the commitment evidenced, ideally with named individuals stated in the application;
    • Multi-sector applications will be welcomed – in particular, applications that demonstrate significant benefits for Local Authorities, NHS & Third Sector organisations; and
    • Academic partners are also welcomed, particularly if in relation to independent evaluation and meeting any required technical/scientific testing.
  • This challenge is open to applications that deliver either a Phase 2 or Phase 3 project. Current funding of £1 Million is available to a portfolio of projects – which may be subject to change, dependent upon the number/quality of submissions received. We are seeking a broad range of projects, from £50,000 for rapid, potentially low-cost demonstrations to up to £400,000 for large scale demonstrators. However, costs must be clearly substantiated and value for money demonstrated. We reserve the right to consider an increased budget for exceptional applications if the scale of the delivery across Wales warrants it.

    Projects will be selected on a portfolio approach to ensure activity and evidence is gathered on a broad demographic basis across Wales.

    Phase 2: Prototype Demonstration and Evaluation – This should result in a real-world demonstrator or pilot programme to be developed and tested in conjunction with end users.

    Phase 3: Spread and Scale – Supporting broader demonstration of successful near-to-market projects across a variety of locations/demographics, providing evidence of the potential for spread and scale across Wales on a place-based approach, considering local assets, existing services and local unmet needs. 

    Projects must commence by 8 January 2024 and be completed by 31 October 2024.

  • Innovative solutions could:

    • Demonstrate the viability, scalability and affordability of new products and services that can reduce the environmental impact of the public sector in Wales.
    • Promote better opportunities for recyclable material in both the creation, reuse and disposal of products supplied to the public sector – designing in circularity from the outset.
    • Increase recycling and repurposing of public sector waste.
    • Reduce collected waste for off-region treatment (reducing carbon footprint).
    • Offer a capital reduction as solutions may have either a cost reducing effect or possible revenue generation capability.
    • Establish local manufacturing partnerships and facilitate access into project partner organisations.

    Out of Scope 


    We are not looking to fund projects which:

    • Do not have at least one Welsh public sector collaborator.
    • Are purely focussed on feasibility – we are seeking real-world practical demonstration (not academic/research papers).
    • Cannot evidence engagement with potential future customers to understand needs.
    • Fail to address how any potentially negative outcomes would be managed.
    • Cannot evidence how a proposal will generate positive economic or societal impact.
    • Fail to consider affordability & practicality of widespread implementation.
  • To register for the virtual Briefing Event, to be held on 16th November at 10:00AM, please click here.

    For any enquiries about this competition e-mail:

    If you would like help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK KTN’s Circular Economy team.


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