The new KTN SME Accelerator: Accelerating innovative Chemistry & Industrial Biotechnology solutions for a Net Zero World

Offering a valuable package of training & support to a cohort of 10-15 promising early & late-stage innovators, in order to accelerate their pathway towards commercialisation and enabling the UK to build more resilient chemical supply chains.

Apply for the Programme by 30 September 2020

Opportunity Details


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Package of training and support, showcase event and pitching opportunities


Innovate UK

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The purpose of the SME Accelerator Programme is to provide a valuable package of training & support to a cohort of 10-15 promising early & late-stage innovators, in order to accelerate their pathway towards commercialisation.

This particular programme is about accelerating innovative Chemistry & Industrial Biotechnology solutions for a Net Zero World, enabling the UK to build more resilient chemical supply chains.

Over a five-month period (Nov 2020 – Mar 2021), KTN will take a cohort of early- and late-stage innovators through a programme that is designed to help them take the next step in their development journey towards commercialisation and make them more attractive to public and private investors.

This package of support and training will be delivered online and is designed to be flexible around the specific needs of early- and late-stage innovators. The programme includes:

  • 1-1 KTN support from KTN sector experts including an Innovation Canvas session to help identify particular innovation challenges and prioritise actions to take your business to its next stage in development.
  • Scale-up support: The opportunity to engage with and learn from experts in scaling up technologies and processes.
  • Industry insights: The opportunity to hear from leading, established companies in the chemical supply chain about their own Net Zero strategy and innovation priorities, providing a great opportunity for innovators to gain exposure to these companies and understand the potential for collaboration and investment.
  • Specialist business support: We will provide access to business support experts who can provide advice on IP, tax credits, export markets, etc to help your business grow.
  • Investment readiness training provided by KTN expert Emma Fadlon. This will include: insights from leading investors about what they look for when they invest; training in how to prepare an effective pitch; and critique on your pitch from a panel of experts.
  • The opportunity to improve your external profile and attract private investment: The top innovators from our cohort will be selected to showcase and pitch to our investors and industry partners at our Showcase event (March 2021). KTN will provide innovators with exposure throughout the programme including at the Showcase event.


Who’s involved in the Programme

This programme is led by KTN and sponsored by Innovate UK. We are working with a number of other Partner organisations from our expert network who will support training and investor readiness activities. Confirmed Partners include:

  • organisations from the chemical sector with strong commitments around Net Zero & Open Innovation;
  • organisations with expertise and capability in scaling-up industrial processes; and
  • Investors and Investor Networks.

Confirmed Partner organisations include: Unilever, Croda, Lubrizol, IBioIC, Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), EarlyMarket LLP, Carbon Limiting Technologies, Ikigai Capital, Clean Growth Fund, UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund and Sustainable Ventures. You can see what they have to say about the programme below!

We will be announcing more Partners soon! If you would like to be considered as a Partner, please contact


Who should apply?

This programme is open to innovative and ambitious SMEs and start-ups who believe they:

  1. Are developing the next wave of technologies that could be deployed in 2030-50 to make a substantive impact in meeting the UK and global Net Zero ambitions; and/or
  2. Can enable the production of chemicals with a lower/zero carbon footprint; or through their innovative product, will enable substantive emission reductions in downstream sectors; and/or
  3. Are developing processes and technologies that can enable the UK to build more resilient and local chemical supply chains.

We are particularly keen to hear from innovators whose core IP is in: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology, Synthetic Biology, Digitisation; Artificial Intelligence fields. Also, innovators who are working in the following themes: Alternative feedstocks; Catalysis; Chemical Recycling of chemicals/ materials; process intensification. We are open to applications from other fields and themes as long as they can justify how they will meet the other criteria.

Please note that in order to participate in this programme there will be an element of dissemination and innovators have to be comfortable with recordings being made public.

Companies that have received similar support from KTN in the past will be eligible to apply but will need to demonstrate how they have moved forward since the previous support was provided.

To get involved in the KTN SME Accelerator programme please fill in the application form HERE

The deadline for submissions is midnight 30 Sept 2020. All applicants will be notified of the outcome in early October.


A list of Frequently Asked Questions can be found here. If this does not deal with your enquiry then please contact members of the Chemistry or Biotechnology teams.

What our Partners say

 Rebecca Wood, Open Innovation Specialist, CRODA

“Croda is excited to join the KTN SME Accelerator Programme to support UK based SMEs and start-ups in bringing their technology closer to market. Croda is recognised for its long-standing focus on innovation in both the chemistry and industrial biotechnology areas and we recently announced our 2030 Sustainability Commitment “to be Climate, Land and People Positive by 2030 and to be the most sustainable supplier of innovative ingredients.” To deliver this we recognise that we need to partner, collaborate and invest in new technologies which enable not only the reduction of emissions to support our Net Zero ambition but also produce novel and innovative new effects for our customers.”

Dr. Alastair Sanderson, Platform Leader Carbon Rainbow, Home Care Advanced Materials and Surface Science, UNILEVER

At Unilever, we believe that business growth should not be at the expense of people and the planet. That’s why we’re changing the way we do business, and why we want to change the way business is done.  

Unilever’s environmental commitments:

  • Net-zero emissions from all of its products by 2039
  • make 100% of the organic chemicals in Unilever’s cleaning brands from renewable and recycled carbon sources by 2030
  • Halving the GHG footprint of our products across the value chain by 2030
  • aim to make our product formulations biodegradable by 2030
  • 100% recyclable, re-usable or compostable packaging, and halving use of virgin plastic, by 2025
  • A deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.

The work of KTN will be a valuable enabler to bring the best that the UK has to offer to help us unlock these audacious commitments.”

Mark Bustard, CEO IBIOIC

“IBioIC is delighted to support and participate in the KTN accelerator programme, that rightly aims to drive industry towards net zero through innovative chemistry and industrial biotechnology. By working with SMEs, start-ups and investors across the UK, this programme will support businesses that need access to innovation, funding and strong networks to grow their ideas whilst also contributing to the longer-term low carbon agenda.”

Andrew Wordsworth, Co-Founder & Managing Director, SUSTAINABLE VENTURES

“Sustainable Ventures invests exclusively with companies developing commercial solutions to the twin challenges of climate change and resource scarcity. This Accelerator programme brings together an exciting ecosystem of stakeholders to support SMEs developing the innovative materials and novel processes which form a critical part of achieving a net zero economy.”

Graeme Cruickshank, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, CPI

“CPI is a leading independent technology innovation centre with experienced scientists, engineers and business specialists that have a proven track record in safely taking sustainable innovative processes to commercialisation. As a leader in key Net Zero enabling technologies we are delighted to be a scale-up partner on this KTN SME Accelerator. A programme that will enable innovators to make those meaningful connections that will drive them forward on their innovation journey and help deliver a Net Zero World.”

Roberto Castiglioni, Co-founder, IKIGAI

“Ikigai bridges the gap between technology, government, industry and finance to empower innovators to commercialise their technologies for the decarbonisation of industry. Our approach is tailored and pragmatic and focused on creating bankable structures to attract private investors and strategic partners. We love the holistic approach of the KTN Pilot SME Accelerator programme because like us, it spans  multiple sectors and disciplines to facilitate the delivery of net-zero”.

John Moss, Chemicals Sector Specialist, DIT

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is the Government Department responsible for assisting companies to locate their foreign direct investment in the UK, and for UK based companies to trade with the rest of the world.  As a chemicals sector specialist, I have successful experience in business development at a senior level in Speciality Chemicals and Polymers, plus extensive knowledge of applications and markets for these products.” 

Asya Ghalachyan, Investment Associate, EARLYMARKET

“We are partnering with KTN’s Net Zero Accelerator to support the agenda of sustainable economies for future populations. We hope to share some of our own investor insights to aid the cohort’s development and explore investment opportunities in companies who are making key contributions to a Net Zero reality.” 


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