August 2020 Funding Landscape

At NBIC, we feel it’s important for us to keep you informed of the latest funding awards, grants and competitions to support you in the progression of your research or developments.


Together with our partner Black Kite® Ltd, we have put together some key current opportunities that specifically link to our four Strategic Themes: Prevent, Detect, Manage, and Engineer (PDME). For further information, including advice and guidance on bidding into competitions, please contact us at 

Click on a button below to jump to your preferred funding option.

UKRI: Research England (RE) information


General Background

  • New UKRI council funding HEIs for research and KE.
  • UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund).

Funding changes

Recurrent grant finding for the academic year 2020 – 2021 (£ m):

  • Accelerated QR 0
  • National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF, allocated as QR) 107
  • Recurrent knowledge exchange (HEIF) 230
  • National facilities and initiatives 40

Others are unchanged from 2019 – 2020.

Fund review

UK Research Partnership Initiative Fund (UKRPIF)

  • Capital funding to research centres and universities; only half the projects allocated.
  • Fund not currently open; open dates will be published on the UKRI website.

Research England Development (RED) Fund 

  • Ongoing application & approval process.
  • Panel dates: July, then Oct 2020.
  • Expectation that applications are prepared in collaboration with RE.
  • Possible for industry to partner with an HEI to apply an advanced research technology.
  • Eight current projects: ~£22.7 m; average ~£3 m (excluding low value outlier).
  • Straight-forward application process; alignment to the fund’s key priorities should be evident.
  • Non-competitive fund; apply any time.
  • Relevant to all NBIC themes as long as a net public benefit will be delivered; collaboration is welcomed.
  • More information on the UKRI website. 

Research Capital Investment Fund

  • For research groups to maintain or improve physical premises or infrastructure.
  • Not obvious whether the fund is currently open.

International Investment Initiative (I3) Fund

  • Supports existing international collaborations.
  • Closed for submissions in 2019; no future rounds are in place as yet.

Connecting Capability Fund (CCF)

  • Supports partnerships between HE, businesses and investors & some Catapults.
  • Currently closed, and no plans at present for a future round of funding.

Museum, Galleries and Collections Fund

University museums, galleries and collections; Ongoing for existing recipients.

Global Challenges Research Fund

Research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries. Accessible to HEIs that submitted QR GCRF (ODA compliant) strategies.

Expanding Excellence in (E3) Fund

  • Strategic expansion of research units already deemed excellent.
  • Specifically about supporting improvements in UK research capability in line with the Industrial Strategy and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
  • Thirteen current projects across diverse areas, from linguistics to space, from plastics to music, from fine print to diabetes, etc..
  • Total funds allocated ~£76.1 m
  • Average project size ~£5.8 m
  • More information on the UKRI website.



Innovate UK: Other Competitions


Sort and segregate nuclear waste: phase 1 (SBRI competition)

  • Develop autonomous and integrated toolkit to sort & segregate radioactive waste.
  • Phase 1 of a 2-phase competition. Phase 1: £60k inc. VAT contracts, up to 10 off.
  • Opens: 17 August 2020; closes: 11:00am on 11 November. Standard SBRI application – 5 weighted questions.

ISCF Transforming foundation industries: Building a resilient recovery: £8 m.

  • Support fast recovery and growth from Covid-19, must focus on resource or energy efficiency.
  • Project cost: £100k to £1m; 3 to 12 months, start by 1 April 2021. Standard 10 questions.
  • Opens: 3 August 2020, closes: 11:00am on 4 October.
  • Different briefings on 17 July and 27 July 2020

The Sustainable Innovation Fund: round 2 (de minimis): £26 m. (Round 3 in September 2020)

  • Help all UK sectors rebuild after the effects of COVID-19. Direct Covid challenge to be evident.
  • £50k – £100k; 3 – 6 months; start 1 November 2020; Usual questions – only 7 off.
  • Opens: 28 Jul 2020; closes: 11:00am on 2 September; online briefings on 30 and 31 July.

Eureka Eurostars 2: round 14: £2.5 m. Opens: 27 July 2020, closes: 12:00pm on 3 September 2020. 

  • Aimed at SMEs to collaborate with Europe and associated nations to undertake innovative, market-driven research in any technological area.
  • Must be civilian based project.
  • Up to €360k euro grant or 60% of costs. Ethics, and Eureka & Innovate UK application forms.
  • Could be ideal for NBIC SME’s wishing to collaborate overseas.

EUREKA GlobalStars Singapore CRDR 2: £1m. Opens 17 June 2020; closes: 11:00am on 15 October)

  • Include partner from Singapore and a named Eureka nation.
  • Application to demonstrate same areas as a SMART application (game changing etc.), market-driven in any technological area, with a civilian purpose. Up to £350k grant; HEI’s up to 30%.
  • Could be ideal for NBIC SME’s wishing to collaborate overseas.

EUREKA GlobalStars Japan: £1 m. Opens: 8 June 2020, close: 12:00pm on 10 September.

  • With Japan, develop new, innovative product, process or service, involving technological risk.
  • Include partner from Singapore and a named Eureka nation.
  • UK costs: £100k – £1m; up to 24 months; start 1 Mar 2021. HEI’s allowed up to 30%.
  • Application to demonstrate same areas as a SMART application (game changing etc.), market-driven in any technological area, with a civilian purpose.
  • Could be ideal for NBIC SME’s wishing to collaborate overseas.

Innovate UK: Biomedical Catalyst 2020: R1, early & late stage awards


Opens: 27 July 2020

Closes: 11:00am on 7 October 2020

  • project start: 1 March 2021
  • project end: 29 Feb 2024
  • Online briefing 1pm, 4 Aug 2020

Scope of call

  • Disease prevention & management
  • earlier & better detection & diagnosis
  • tailored treatments


Create data package to test product, or conduct evaluation in a relevant setting.


Details of call

Available funding

  • £250k – £4m (project costs) / 12 – 36 months
  • Grant: 70% (micro or small); 60% (medium)


  • Lead: UK SME or RTO
  • Work conducted in UK; Exploit in/from UK
  • Any UK organisation can partner, including academics


  • UK SME led; can work alone
  • Less likely that large projects, e.g., > £1 m, will be one SME
  • Academics can partner on any number of applications; involvement limited to 50%.

NBIC industry partners could formulate projects on all NBIC themes, PD is suggested first, followed by ME.

NBIC insights

Key Considerations for NBIC partners in this call

  • If RTO led, must collaborate with SME.
  • One application / lead; can collaborate on two others.
  • Large companies cannot claim grant.
  • Non UK subcontractors need justification 10 days in advance of application.
  • One resubmission allowed.
  • Testing is broad: feasibility studies to lab evaluation to product development to phase 2 clinical trials.
  • Focus: development of innovative solution (product, process) for a health challenge.
  • Likely to be a competitive call.
  • EDI (exclusion, diversity, inclusion) survey.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment

Potentially aligns to all themes, with PD more relevant due to disease prevention & diagnosis, although ME is relevant due to tailored treatments.

NBIC recommendations

  • SMEs do not need strong alignment to NBIC themes; focus is healthcare need.
  • NBIC institutions should be able to partner.
  • Demonstrate clear healthcare need supported by scientific evidence, leading to credible commercial opportunity.
  • Show commercial viability at scale.
  • Show team is greater than its parts.
  • Professional project & risk management should be evident.

Innovate UK: Designing sustainable plastic solutions


Opens: 3 June 2020

Closes: 12:00pm, 16 September 2020

  • project start: 1 January 2021
  • project end: 20 June 2021
  • Online briefing 

Scope of call

Human-centred design projects to reduce environmental harm of plastics.


Reduce persistent plastic waste from landfill or entering the environment altogether.


Includes all necessary disciplines to develop a design specification.


    Details of call

    Available funding: total £800k

    • Project costs: £20k to £80k; 3-6 months
    • Grant: 50% (large), 60% (medium), 70% (small)


    • Lead: UK business
    • HEIs and RTOs can partner .

    Sectors and Market Alignment

    Any practical innovative solutions to help reduce plastic waste.


    Given low funding, probably single applicant; small academic involvement still possible. Permission for project values >£80k must be sought ten days prior.


    Industrial research. 

    NBIC insights

    Key Considerations for NBIC partners in this call

    • Up to 70% subcontracting allowed (includes EEA businesses).
    • One application / lead; can collaborate on two others.
    • Six marked questions for application.
    • Projects will be showcased at a KTN exhibition.
    • Must involve hands-on customer / user research to inform and test novel ideas.
    • Deliver a well-informed and viable design concept for an innovative product, service or business model.

    NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment

    Aligns with NBIC Enginer theme and aligns to NBIC’s activities: Interdisciplinary research.

    NBIC recommendations

    • Could be a good project for SMEs connected to NBIC.
    • Revenue generation & growth should be evident.
    • Application questions focused on idea and delivery.
    • Design is expected to take into account all relevant disciplines for the idea at hand, e.g., engineering, material science, service design, circular design, systems thinking. Engineering (and Materials Science) could be relevant to NBIC.
    • Likely that pre-approval of say, up to £100k projects, may be gained.

    Innovate UK: Smart


    Expected to open in August 2020

    Scope of call

    • Any technological area.
    • Game changing, innovative, ready for commercialisation soon after project end.
    • Strong business and delivery plan.
    Details of call

    Available funding

    • TBC – typically £25k – £2m with varying project durations.


    • Must include SME

    Sectors and Market Alignment

    Typically any sector. 

    NBIC insights

    Key Considerations for NBIC partners in this call

    • Standard Smart competition.
    • Highly competitive (hence this round is delayed due to oversubscription of previous round).
    • Standard application form.

    NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment

    Any technological area, thus aligns to all NBIC themes. RTOs can usually lead, HEI’s usually cannot

    NBIC recommendations: Competition due to open 28 August 2020 – this page will be updated once we have more information.