The Sustainable Innovation Fund: Round 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £26 million for new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19. This funding is from Innovate UK.

  • Competition opens: Tuesday 28 July 2020
  • Competition closes: Wednesday 2 September 2020 11:00am

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £26 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of The Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

All projects must be led by a business and your project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £100,000.

Proposals can only be from a single business.

This competition is round 2 of a potential 3.

  • round 2 – De Minimis (this competition)
  • round 3 – Temporary Framework (opening September 2020)

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Full information on The Sustainable Information Fund and how to apply can be found at this link. 

The below key dates and webinars will provide more information on the fund and how to apply:

30 July 2020
Online briefing event: register to attend

31 July 2020
EEN “how to write a good application” online event: register to attend

31 July 2020
Knowledge Transfer Network is running a Q&A session on the Sustainable Innovation Fund Round 2: register to attend

2 September 2020 11:00am
Competition closes

2 October 2020
Applicants notified

Your proposal

COVID-19 has affected R&D across all sectors, and our aim with this competition is to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow, and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

Your proposal must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of COVID-19, and how your project can help solve them.

You must consider your proposal’s impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability.

We would also like you to address where necessary, equality, diversity, and inclusion in relation to your project, your organisation(s) and your approach to innovation.

We will fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, regions, technological maturities and research categories, including the themes listed below.

Specific themes

Your project can also focus on:

  • decarbonisation, circular economy and/or biodiversity
  • climate change and environmental sustainability
  • geographic or regionally targeted innovation
  • innovation that is aimed at commercial or residential users
  • innovations that work across more than one sector
  • follow-on international opportunities that help the UK lead the world

Who Can Apply?

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants for a de minimis award must complete and provide to Innovate UK a de minimis declaration, which can be found in question 1. This states any and all de minimis awards (from any source of public funding) during the current and previous 2 fiscal years.

Agriculture, fisheries and road transport sectors

Innovate UK provides research, development and innovation funding opportunities within the agriculture and fisheries sectors through other forms of aid. However, we will not fund the following through de minimis.

  • aid subsidising any primary production within fishery and aquaculture sectors
  • aid subsidising any primary production of agricultural products

De minimis aid cannot be used for costs associated with:

  • export-related activities towards third countries or member states, namely aid directly linked to the quantities exported, to the establishment and operation of a distribution network or to other current expenditure linked to the export activity
  • activities that favour domestic goods over imports
  • activities related to purchasing of road freight transport. For any other activity which involves hire or reward in the road freight transport sector, aid is limited to 100,000 euros over 3 fiscal (tax) years

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £50,000 and £100,000
  • be ready to start by 1 November 2020
  • last between three and six months

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • be able to carry out project work under the current restrictions of COVID-19
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone but can be subcontractors.

Find out which definition your organisation falls into.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition provided the work is procured through an open and transparent public tender. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. Where subcontractors are non-UK based, please justify why you are unable to use a UK alternative. We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

A business can only submit one application in this competition.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you must submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.


We have allocated up to £26 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You can receive funding of 100% of your total eligible project costs, up to £100,000.

We will provide up to £50,000 to each grant-claiming organisation as an advance on grant payment 10 working days after the return of a fully-signed grant offer letter. This will be taken off the first and any subsequent claims.

De minimis

In order to minimise distortion of competition, the European Commission sets limits on how much assistance can be given without its prior approval, to organisations operating in a competitive market. There is a ceiling of €200,000 for all de minimis aid provided to any one organisation over a 3 fiscal year period.

You need to declare any de minimis aid awarded to any other public funding body which requests it. You must also keep all documentation associated with the award for 10 years from the date the award is granted.


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