September 2021 Funding Landscape: Latest Funding, Awards and Grants

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 expand your preferred funding option.

Innovate UK: Smart May 2021


Scope of Call:

Any technological area.

Game changing, innovative, ambitious, ready for commercialisation soon after project end.

Strong business and delivery plan.

Aim: Any innovation with significant potential for growth or scale-up, taking customer and user needs into account.

Available funding: total £25 m

Project durations between 6 & 18 months, total costs between £25k – £500k; Durations 19 to 36 months, total costs £25k – £2m.

Costs up to £3 m, seek approval ten days before deadline.


UK registered business or RTO.

RTOs can partner, academics cannot lead.

Dates: closes: 06 October 2021 (11:00)

Project start: by 1 April 2022 (latest), end by 31 March 2025

Key Considerations:

Must be led by UK business of any size.

Project must include at least one micro or SME.

6 – 18 month projects may be single SME, but more likely a collaboration led by business (large or SME).

Larger projects must be collaborative. Non-grant claiming partners’ costs are included in total eligible project costs.

Subcontractors permitted, but must be justified and appropriate.

Must demonstrate intention to commercially exploit project result(s).

Funding level is function of research activity (feasibility, industrial, experimental) and organisation size.

Research partners max. 30% total costs.

Highly competitive; high score needed for success.

Standard application form + EDI, additional financial considerations (e.g. for UID).

General Recommendations:

A commercial exploitation path must be evident for all business partners.

Preference is given to projects with potential for growth in global markets.

There is a focus on identified customers and users to show value & potential of solution.

Time to market is important.

Clear project management approach, availability of necessary skills and appreciation of risks and their management is needed, i.e., strong project management should be evident in application.

Need to identify if the project is feasibility (shorter, but higher funding levels), industrial research or experimental development (larger, but lower funding %).

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Any technological area, thus aligns to all NBIC themes.

HEI’s cannot lead.

Expectation of clear significant economic impact potential from an innovative, disruptive new product, with rapid commercialisation potential.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Typically any sector with potential for rapid growth & global reach.

Customer & user needs must be evident.

Projects can be feasibility, industrial research or experimental development.

For small projects, a micro or SME must lead or be a collaborator; NBIC academics should try and partner.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

SMART projects applies to any technology area, but must have potential to be innovative / disruptive and be ahead of the field.

Possible application of Biofilms

Competition welcomes projects that address the identified Grand Challenges, but is not a requirement; biofilms appear best suited to ageing society and clean growth (of UK economy). Cf. investment accelerator and SBRI competitions

Key Collaborators

Public facing organisation giving customer/user component is beneficial.

NBIC researchers can support associated SMEs, spin-outs or businesses.

NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) i4i Connect


Scope of Call: Medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and tier 3a digital health technologies.

Aim: Help SMEs reach the next stage in development and apply for further funding, in particular an i4i development award.

Available funding: total £unspecified Project costs: £50-150k; 6 – 12 months. Grant: 100%;

Eligibility: Lead: SME May include collaboration with another SME, NHS trust or research institute; patient and public involvement required.

Dates: Competition 5: Stage 1 open: 17 August 2021, closes 14 Sept 2021 Stage 2: open: 6 Oct 2021, closes 2 Nov 2021

Key Considerations

Project lead applicant must be an SME based in England.

Collaborators/subcontractors from elsewhere can be included if justified.

Collaborator with another SME, research institute or NHS Trust beneficial.

Research proposals may address any area of existing or emerging healthcare need.

Innovations can be at any stage of the translational R&D pathway.

Proof of Concept must be evidenced.

Two stage application:

EoI (stage 1)

Project-focused business plan (stage 2).

General Recommendations:

This competition is for projects that can demonstrate proof of concept and need support to get to next stage.

Any medical device or diagnostic tool with clear and demonstrable patient benefit.

Projects should include a Research and Development component.

Target of the funding is to de-risk projects in advance of further investment or grant funding application.

Existing collaboration not required, but future collaborators need to be identified.

A business plan is necessary, showing potential for commercialisation.

Stage 1 EoI, followed by business plan and 3 min. video pitch, if shortlisted.

Six assessment criteria.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

This topic is of relevance to all NBIC themes, P, D, M & E Sectors and Market Alignment:

Targeted at the healthcare sector specifically.

R&D of medical devices and in vitro diagnostic devices, including product design, scale-up, IP, safety and efficacy studies, health economics, CE marking. R&D must be a component of the project.

The target user is the NHS in the first instance; commercialisation partner could be a provider of services or product to the NHS.

Target application must be somewhere that a clear clinical need and patient benefit can be shown.

Project should show how it will change clinical practice, provide patient benefits and potential cost savings for the NHS.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

P: protection of surfaces, cleaning and re-use of clinical instruments.

D: sensing of microbial contaminants, in vitro detection and identification of pathogens.

M: decontamination of surfaces, applying preventative surfaces to reduce cross-contamination, destruction of biofilms for improved healthcare.

E: laboratory cultures for identifying or developing anti-microbial agents, development of screening processes using bio-film based instrumentation.

Key Collaborators

NHS providers, patient groups, research institutions.

Zero Waste Scotland: Circular Economy Investment Fund


Scope of Call: A funding opportunity for businesses and organisations in Scotland working in any sector where innovative projects have the ability to deliver carbon savings, leverage investment and create jobs.

Aim: Development and uptake of innovative technologies, products and services to support a circular economy, exploring new markets and developing innovative business models.

Available funding: total £18 m Project costs: up to £1M Grant: 25% (large); 35% (med.); 45% (small).

Eligibility: Lead: SME Business based in Scotland

Dates: Open competition: information and proposal form available on website.

Key Considerations:

This is an opportunity for Scotland-based small businesses working in the circular economy

Topics of interest are:

Built environment

Food systems


Energy infrastructure

Heat and Energy


Large companies (non SME) and public sector bodies including academic institutions are not eligible for funding under this scheme.

Collaboration is actively encouraged where it strengthens the overall proposal, but note that only SMEs and registered 3rd party organisations are eligible for funding.

General Recommendations:

Projects need to show how they will benefit the circular economy in Scotland.

Carbon savings should be presented in terms of tonnes CO2 equivalent.

The project may show how an innovative technology can add value to a ‘waste’ product or material.

Projects should be well advanced in development. Early-stage research or basic science projects are not supported under this fund.

Proposed projects must outline the circular economy benefits of the project, and must plan to take a product, model, service, technology or invention towards commercial scale development.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Aligns with themes: Manage and Engineer.

Aligns with NBIC’s activities: Next generation enabling tech; sectorial challenge; Improved Customer Products.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Any sector in which carbon savings can be generated, or where industrial waste can be reclaimed and re-used.


An opportunity for an SME NBIC member company based in, or operating in Scotland to work with small industrial companies and/or academic researchers or for a UK-based member company to ally with a large industrial concern in Scotland

Other: Demonstration at commercial scale will be necessary.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Manage: New business models to re-use materials usually classed as waste, possibly due to bio-fouling; application of new approaches to manufacturing to reduce or sequester CO2 produced.

Engineer: Create technologies to reduce bio-degradation of re-usable materials, creation of carbon reduction or sequestration processes or products

Possible application of Biofilms

Use in carbon sequestration or process modification for carbon reduction or materials re-use.

Innovate UK: ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging: Business-Led R&D


Scope of Call:

Part of the SSPP, Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme

Smart & sustainable plastic packaging for consumer products.

Deliver cleaner growth across supply chains.

Aim: To establish the UK as a leading innovator and deliver dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.

Available funding: total £7 m

Project costs: £200 k to £4 m, 12-36 months

Grant: 50% (large); 60% (med.); 70% (small).

Eligibility: Lead: Business, collaboration allowed, research organisations max of 50% total eligible costs.

Dates: Open: 18 May 2021, close: 08 Sept. 2021

Key Considerations:

SSPP Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator.

Projects must improve the sustainability of the plastic packaging supply chain

Must make a significant contribution towards delivering the targets of the UK Plastics Pact

Must utilise at-scale innovation in design, technology, processes, business models, supply chains or data for plastic packaging.

Particular interest in:

Minimised plastic packaging

Refill at scale

Sustainable solutions for film

Food grade recycled PP/PE

Behavioural change for less waste

Address Plastics Pact target for unnecessary or single use plastic packaging

General Recommendations:

These are business-led research projects, but must show clear target of their research in respect of the considerations.

Clearly explain reductions in UK plastic packaging system’s overall environmental impact.

Demonstrate contributing to meeting one or more of the UK Plastic Pact targets.

The project can be a mix of industrial research and experimental development. The scale of the project would reflect this mix

Note that experimental development components of a bid carry lower recovery rates.

An online briefing is available here. 

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Aligns with all themes: Prevent, Detect, Manage, Engineer.

Aligns with NBIC’s activities: Interdisciplinary research and sectorial challenge; Improved Customer Products.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Any practical innovative solutions to help reduce plastic waste and the harm plastics have on the environment, including recycling, reuse, tracking, etc.


Ideal for an NBIC member company to collaborate with one or more of the NBIC University research teams.

Other: Demonstration of value for money will be expected.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Prevent: bio-degradability; reuse & refill.

Detect: marking & tracking of packaging to improve supply chain circularity or sustainability.

Manage: New business models to reduce plastic going to landfill; behaviour change to use less packaging, increase recycling; reduce dependency on plastics.

Engineer: incorporate biofilms into packaging; develop food grade plastic packaging that may be recycled etc..

Possible application of Biofilms

As above plus low carbon, non fossil polymers for packaging.

DEFRA: Tree Production Innovation Fund


Scope of Call:

Encourage the development and adoption of new technologies and ways of working that will enhance the quantity, quality and diversity of planting stock available for tree planting in England.

Aim: Maximise quantity, quality and diversity of trees through improvements to seed, growing medium and weed suppression.

Available funding: total £1 m

Project costs: £200k, 6 month projects

Grant: 50% (large); 60% (med.); 70% (small).

Eligibility: Lead: Any UK based organisation, but public bodies must partner with private sector organisations. Consortia are welcomed.

Dates: Open: July 2021, close: 30 September 2021

Key Considerations:

Three challenges:

1.Make better use of available seed and planting material

2.Improve growing systems and promote biosecurity

3.Innovative weed suppression systems

Projects can be standalone with fully developed outcomes or feasibility studies.

Projects must take place in England.

General Recommendations:

6-month projects must run between October 2021 and March 2022.

Public bodies will be required to partner with private sector third party organisations to be eligible for funding.

New entrants to the sector are welcome to participate.

Proposals that demonstrate benefit to broadleaf tree propagation are of particular interest.

The competition’s opening date is not yet set, watch the DEFRA link for specific timing here.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Aligns with all themes: Prevent, Detect, Manage, Engineer.

Aligns with NBIC’s activities: Interdisciplinary research and sectorial challenge; Improved Customer Products.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Innovations related to environment, biocides, soil and microbial management etc.


A research team needs to partner with an appropriate industrial organisation, which could be in the horticultural, biological sectors or a new entrant to this area.

Other: Projects may develop and demonstrate an existing idea or may be a feasibility study into possible solutions to one of the challenges.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Prevent: reduction of bio-contamination.

Detect: identify harmful microbes or surface contaminants

Manage: Create mechanisms to manage soil and growing medium condition, and control microbe presence.

Engineer: Create surface film for seeds or growing medium for suppression of weeds, management of germination times or improvement in growth

Possible application of Biofilms

As above

Key Collaborators

Agricultural or horticultural producers or research organisations.

MedTech Navigator Innovation Grants


Scope of Call

Innovation grants to facilitate interactions between Med Tech SMEs and Knowledge Providers during product development. For example, help to develop or test new or improved products, processes and services.

Applications assessed on novelty of innovation, clinical need, value for money, strength of team.

Available Funding

Up to £7,500 grant (50% of total project cost).

Dates: Open call, next deadline 29 October 2021

Key Considerations

SME applies for and justifies knowledge collaboration.

Simple application process with regular awards committee reviews.

Typical projects include:

Help to develop or test new or improved products, processes and services.

Access to information and expertise on care pathways and workflows

Tapping into clinical and scientific expertise.

General Recommendations

Health stakeholders should be involved in any bid, such as patient groups, clinicians or NHS organisations.

Teaming with an NHS Trust or medical device manufacturer would be beneficial.

University medical departments are also regarded as a knowledge provider.

The currently open call closes on 09 July 2021, the next call will open immediately afterwards, closing on 08 October 2021

Knowledge sharing and partner discovery/access can be accessed through the MedTech CONNECT portal here. 

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Could apply to all NBIC themes, drawing on expertise supportive of SMEs.


UK SME led, collaboration with university (or NHS/medical organisation).

Links with, e.g., the Southampton medical school, would be helpful.

Could form part of an existing relationship between NBIC and health SME, or help to establish new relationship.

Any MedTech SME needing expertise to support development or testing can access NBIC as a knowledge provider.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

The grants facilitate interaction between SMEs and knowledge providers on any aspect of healthcare, therefore any aspect of PDME could come into play.

Possible application of Biofilms

Fund covers any aspect of health and medical technology, and so any of the many health applications of biofilms already in development through NBIC are relevant.

Fund could support an existing link between an SME industry partner and NBIC research institution.

Key Collaborators

UK SMEs associated with NBIC.

RTOs or health trusts as knowledge providers.

Universities/Research Institutes from NBIC.

Merck 2021 Research Grants


Scope of Call:

Grants available to scientists in all career stages who are affiliated with any research-based institution, university or company.

Grants offered to stimulate innovative research in challenging areas of future importance.


Grants of €100k – 500k (depending on topic) per year for up to three years, with the option of an extension.

Can apply for more than one grant, or more than one focus topic

Initial non-confidential application; successful ones invited to submit full proposal.


Submission deadline 31 Aug 2021

Selection workshops Nov/Dec 2021

Now closing – new calls expected in 2022

Key Considerations:

Topic areas of interest this year are:

Drug Discovery

Real time testing and sensors

Nanoparticle for nucleic acid delivery

Digital innovation



Media recycling for cultured meat


The research topics are looking for new technologies and approaches that will apply to new and emerging challenges in the health and environment sector.

Details of the expectations under each of the topics of interest are given on the linked web-page.

Knowledge of the commercial expectations of Merck will be important.

General Recommendations:

Knowledge, competence, access to facilities and innovative ideas will support a bid.

Connection to, or collaboration with, a clinical or healthcare provider will add credibility and knowledge of the user.

Innovative thinking, bringing technologies applied to non-health sectors into the health domain will be of interest.

Applications will be scored on the criteria of: innovativeness; commercial potential; path forward after 3 years; probability of success; team strength; strategic fit.

Successful applicants will be invited to a ‘deep dive’ workshop with Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, costs paid by Merck.

Purpose: jointly optimise the submitted proposals.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Aligns with all NBIC themes, esp. Prevent and Detect, and applies to the improved health sectorial challenge and environmental challenge.

Research within an NBIC partner institution relevant to vaccine or drug delivery platforms, pathogen control, biosensors or bioprocessing could be proposed.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Involvement can create connections between NBIC research and commercial partners, including the pharmaceutical industry.

Merck are seeking entry to wider markets (e.g., cultured meat production) and research proposals that broaden the application space will be of interest.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Prevent: Any application of biofilms that supports identification or categorisation of future health threats.

Detect: any platform using biofilms for screening or diagnostics of infections in patient management.

Manage: testing, vector control and delivery systems for emerging health threats.

Engineer: applications of biofilms in drug delivery, monitoring etc..

Possible application of Biofilms

Appear to be many relevant biofilm applications at PoC level already underway that are relevant and could form the basis of a bid.

Key Collaborators

These are research proposals seeking tech solutions towards pandemic preparedness, therefore led by an NBIC researcher or team supported by access to other researchers through NBIC.

KTN Innovation Exchange: KTN-iX


Scope of Call:

KTN runs iX challenges on behalf of various beneficiaries looking for innovative solutions to specific challenges.

Challenges are updated regularly, and sometimes have relevance for specific technology businesses and researchers.

Selected finalists are given the opportunity to present to the challenge sponsor, possibly leading to a commercial opportunity.

Support from KTN and relevant catapults are available to successful applicants.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

(a) Ørsted sponsoring approaches for dealing with the upcycling of protective plastics from offshore Wind Farms: closes 15 Oct 2021

(b) EQUANS: four challenges related to energy and the environment, all closing 30 Sep 2021.

Dates: dependent on challenge.

Key Considerations:

KTNiX provides an opportunity to propose technology applications to commercial users.

The challenges are set by commercial users – recent challenges have been based around energy efficiency and crowd monitoring.

IP is retained by the solution provider(s).


Proposal could be a collaboration of businesses with the right mix of skills.

Organisations bidding must be UK based.

General Recommendations:

If successful in the initial round these challenges give the opportunity for a small organisation to raise its profile in what could be a profitable future area.

Note that a simple registration to KTN-iX is necessary to access details of this and other Innovation Exchange competitions.

EQUANS challenges:

Solutions to Decarbonise Heat.

Solutions for Smarter & Greener Places.

Industrial Decarbonisation Solutions.

Digital Tools for the Built Environment.

Other challenges highlighted on the KTN-iX website.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

Currently no directly relevant biofilm challenges advertised, although the upcycling plastics could have some relevance to NBIC partners.

When a relevant challenge is advertised a biofilm based solution or approach can be considered and proposed.

Calls could align with any or all NBIC themes, Prevent, Detect, Manage and Engineer – the latest challenge could be Engineer.

Sectors and Market Alignment:

Any sector could be represented, although current ‘hot’ topics are around environment and energy. Future topics are likely to include carbon reduction, infection management and circular economy.

Successful development under one of the KTN-iX challenges could lead to opportunities for biofilms to be applied in novel ways or sectors, or lead to translation of technologies between application sectors.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Depends upon detailed description of challenge, available after registration.

Potentially all four themes could be relevant, typically one or two per challenge.

Key Collaborators

Researchers and application experts.

Knowledgeable experts in application challenge area.


Innovate UK: Fisheries and Seafood Scheme


Scope of Call:

Provides financial support for projects in England in the aquaculture sectors and that enhance and protect the marine environment.


Supports sustainable growth in the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors and projects that enhance the marine environment.

Available funding: £unspecified

Project: £1k – £150k; dependent on application.

Grant: 80% fleet, 75% public, 30% SME.

Eligibility: UK business, public body, university/RTO, individual.

Collaboration: possible.

Dates: open: rolling deadline, 8 week turnaround, registration closes 31 December 2022

Key Considerations

There are a range of application areas, each with separate conditions:

Protecting marine environment

Supporting coastal communities

Reform of stock and quota management

Developing industry infrastructure for sustainable growth

Separate guidance for each activity in the scheme, check online for information including budgets and dates.

An Expression of Interest can be submitted to check eligibility of a project before it is formally submitted.

Funded by DEFRA.

General Recommendations:

Not all areas of the scheme are open at the same time, so need to check what is relevant and eligible.

If the MMO consider the applicant could afford to pay for the project without additional funding the application will be rejected, therefore ensure that funding is essential to achieve the objective.

The bid must include a description of the targets and benefits anticipated, against which the performance will be evaluated.

The scheme covers a wide range of applicants that could be an individual or business or university, so there is a wide range of opportunity available.

NBIC Theme (PDME) Alignment:

There are a range of bio-film applications that could be relevant, from efficiency of ships by bio-foul reduction to catch management or environment management for fishery operations.

This funding could also be relevant for the development of products that support the fishing or aquaculture industries, such as in biocides for catch management and processing or gear maintenance.

Key Collaborators:

The call does not specify whether collaborations are in scope, although the implication is that a single organisation or individual will make the application. It is possible that a business supported by a university, for example, may be eligible.

NBIC Specific Recommendations:

Relationship to PDME

Proposed solutions could be relevant to Prevention of biofilm fouling or degradation (for example on fishing gear or processing equipment), Detection of biofilm build-up, Management of biofilms that impair performance/ reduce efficiency, or Engineering of beneficial bio growth or bio-degradation components and surfaces.

Possible application of Biofilms

It is likely that bio-films are hazards to be managed, such as growth on marine equipment or degradation of catch.

There might also be applications related to the enhancement of the marine environment through reduction or mitigation of environmental impact.

Innovate UK: Other competitions (1)


SBRI: Healthy Ageing Social Ventures Industrial Research and Feasibility Studies

Funds organisations to deliver social impact and address one or more of the themes of the Healthy Ageing Challenge Framework.

Procurement contracts awarded to single entity, that can be an organisation of any size.

Costs from £50 k – £150 k (including VAT), duration up to 24 months.

Competition closes for both strands 15th September.

recorded briefing here.

Further information here. 

SBRI: Develop innovative solutions for soil sampling

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) based in Northern Ireland has SBRI funding available to work with innovative companies to develop solutions to improve soil sampling and monitoring.

Procurement contract, tender awarded based on best price to quality ratio, max duration 6 months.

Registration closes 2nd September at 15:00.

Registration and further information here. 

Fisheries and Seafood Scheme: Closes: 31 December 2022

Support sustainable growth in the catching, processing and aquaculture sectors, and enhance the marine environment.

Available to applicants whose businesses and/or vessels are registered in England.

Open to researchers, public bodies, local authorities, new entrants or individuals – grant up to £150k

Further information here. 

Clean Growth Fund

The Clean Growth Fund (CGF) invests in the most promising and ambitious companies to provide commercialisation expertise and access to markets.

Looking for any company with a clear and significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases.

Provides business support to sectors: power, buildings, transport, industry and waste.

First round investment £500 k – £3 m 


NBIC Relevance

SBRI competitions:

NBIC partners may bid into one of these competitions. Single lead, but other businesses or researchers may be subcontracted (P, D, E and M).

Clean Growth Fund:

The CGF is a route to investment capital for an early stage business with an exciting and innovative product looking for growth.

Fisheries and Seafood Scheme:

Biofilms are present in many guises in the seafood and aquaculture chain, and the ability to manage them beneficially could be relevant to a project in this scheme.

Innovate UK: Other competitions (2)


Global Cooperation Feasibility Studies

A fund to increase international engagement of innovative UK registered SMEs to strengthen international R&I partnerships.

Lead: any UK registered micro or SME, could support preparation of Horizon Europe bid.

Grant funding – costs £15k – £30k, max duration 3 months.

Closes 3rd Sept. 2021, project must start 1st January 2022

Further information here.

Net Zero Innovation Portfolio: £1Bn Fund

The Net Zero Innovation Portfolio provides funding for low-carbon technologies and systems to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technology systems and business models in power, buildings and industry, and will help enable the UK to end its contribution to climate change.

Competitions will be launching throughout 2021, with opportunities to apply offered through the individual competition pages here. 

Knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2021 to 2022, round 2

Standard KTP scheme. Comprehensive application process.

Typically project costs are expected to be £75 k per annum, part of this expected to be funded by the business partner; 12 – 36 month projects.

Technology and Management KTPs possible.

Opens: 05 July 2021; closes: 29 September 2021.


Transforming Foundation Industry Investor Partner Programme

Supports small companies to access Innovate UK R&D funding alongside investor equity investment.

Launch event held on 23rd March, find out more here. 

Close date of final round 10th November 2021.

NBIC Relevance:

Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply and Net Zero Innovation:

NBIC partners may have a contribution in this programme where the management or exploitation of biofilms could provide a solution to reducing carbon (directly or indirectly) or catalysing a hydrogen production process (for example).

Knowledge transfer partnerships:

NBIC partners may find the KTP scheme a useful way to involve a researcher from academia in their business. This route can often lead to a recruitment opportunity, as well as improved working relationship with the researcher’s university.

Transforming Foundation Industry:

The Foundation Industries (metals, ceramics, glass, chemicals, paper and cement) are affected by biofilms at many stages of the production process. Prevention, Detection or Management of biofilms could be contributory to the target of these projects.

Horizon Europe: Update – August 2021


Latest Update:

Although Horizon Europe projects are seen as working alongside, or complementing, Innovate UK funded programmes, the fact remains that Horizon Europe bids are far more complicated to assemble with considerably greater administration costs than Innovate UK bids.

Pulling together an international team can be challenging to manage, especially for a small business.

However, project scale is greater, as is the time allowed for bids to be prepared.

Some calls are more competitive than others, and overall budgets are higher.

Before embarking on an European bid, it makes good sense to take advice on whether the time spent on bidding is likely to prove cost effective.

There is also an opportunity to bid for funding under the global cooperation call which could support the preparation of a collaboration team for a Horizon Europe bid (see slide 14). This call closes soon, but further calls of this type may open later this year or in 2022.

The National Contact Point (NCP) network is still in place from pre-Brexit days, and NCPs are available to help and guide those wanting to find out more about opportunities and participation, or lead bids into the Horizon Europe programme. There is a list of NCPs and their sectors here. 

A useful access page for all programmes and calls is here. 

Access to calls:

Cluster 1: Health Cluster – innovative healthcare, digital solutions, tackling disease and staying healthy.

Various closing dates – 21-September-2021, 21-April-2022, 06-September-2022.


Cluster 2: Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society – education, ageing society, green technology in culture, post-pandemic governance, big data

Closing dates in September 2021 and April 2022.


Cluster 3: Civil Security for Society – Cyber security, space-based infrastructure, resilient infrastructure, security R&I and disaster resilience.

Closing dates in September, October, November 2021 and February, November 2022


NBIC Relevance:

Calls with most relevance to NBIC are likely to be in the health cluster, particularly the calls relating to tackling diseases, health-promoting environment and new tools for a healthy society where Detection, Manage and Engineer topics could be presented.

There are also opportunities in environmental topics, such as circular economy and quality of life, that are open at the moment and could be addressed by NBIC partners where all topics Prevent, Detect, Manage and Engineer are relevant.

Collaborators from at least two other European countries are generally required, although there are online partner search portals through which small companies can advertise their skills and technology that might be taken up by other project bids, or conversely relevant partners can be contacted to add skills to a bid.

Because of the complexity, it is recommended that support is requested early on in the bid process to identify appropriate competitions, discover partners and start the process of planning and assembling a bid.

Biomedical Catalyst 2021 Round 2: Feasibility & Primer Awards


Opens: Monday 18 October
Closes: Wednesday 1 December 11:00am

Another round of the Biomedical Catalyst opening on Monday 18th October with £12million of non-dilutive grant funding available.

This competition will focus on supporting innovators to explore and evaluate the commercial potential of an innovative scientific idea or carry out a technical evaluation through to proof of concept in a model system.

Biomedical Catalyst is open to all UK health & life science businesses that have an innovative project relating to human health.

Research Councils: Other competitions (1)


EPSRC: Manufacturing the future

Support for engineering and physical sciences research looking at key challenges facing manufacturing in the UK.

Includes chemistry and materials.

Up to £2 m.

Open now, no closing date 


MRC: Infections and immunity programme – closes soon

Typically grants of £1 m or more for up to 5 years.

Grants within an academic institution.

Opens 14th June 2021, closes 8th Sept 2021 


MRC: molecular and cellular medicine programme grant: Sep 2021 – closes soon

Typically grants of £1 m or more for up to 5 years.

Grants within an academic institution.

Structure and function of molecules and complexes and the cellular environment including how biological systems respond to drugs and toxins.

Opens 14th June 2021, closes 1st Sept 2021 


MRC molecular and cellular medicine partnership grant: Sep 2021– closes soon

Funding provided for up to 5 years for principal investigator and small number of co-investigators. Project partners not funded.

Intended to establish new, high-value collaborative activities or capabilities or add value to existing grants

Opens 14th June 2021, closes 1st Sept 2021 


EPSRC: Discipline-hopping in ICT

Relevant for researchers with non-ICT expertise looking to learn ICT research skills and apply them in their home discipline.

3 – 4 month support of salary and T&S at 80% FEC.

Now open, no closing date 


Research England Development (RED) Fund:

Collaboration between higher education providers and industry/business partners to increase effectiveness of research for societal benefit.

Quality Related Research (QER) funding in the form of block grant. Contribution expected from collaborating business.

Open, no closing date. Find out more here. 

NBIC Relevance:

There are a number of calls open to researchers from NBIC academic partners that could support development of applications of biofilms in medicine, bioscience and manufacturing, and which might be supported by NBIC industrial partners, which could lead to innovation transfer or to knowledge transfer using one of the KTP instruments.

The discipline hopping opportunity is included since it is an opportunity for researchers to develop their ICT skills, and perhaps become better qualified or able to work with industrial partners, perhaps through a KTP scheme.

The RED fund may be of interest to researchers looking to collaborate with industry by providing solutions to ongoing challenges.

Research Councils: Other competitions (2)


BBSRC: Follow-on Funding

Funding to support translating research into practical applications, could include spin-out, licensing opportunity or creating a social enterprise.

Led by a UK research organisation collaborating with an industry or business.

Grant funded, up to £250k, duration between one and two years.

closing date 6th October 2021 


BBSRC: Collaborating for healthy, resilient and sustainable agricultural soils

Project focused on soil biodiversity and soil improvements; site-specific or landscape-scale ways to improve sustainability, resilience, health and productivity of soils.

Includes biodiversity and soil health, but does not include soil organic carbon sequestration.

£62,500 – £625,000

Open now, closes 7th September 2021. NB pre-registration was required by 25th June.


UKRI-SBE lead agency opportunity

Collaborations between UK and US researchers in any discipline including biotech.

Submission of EoI to NSF and UKRI for consideration.

Maximum award £1 m, currently open, no closing date 


Business and Academia Prosperity Partnership

Aims to support business-led / UK university research partnerships in low TRL programmes to deliver economic, social and cultural prosperity for UK.

Total fund £20 m, 80% university funding, matched by funding from industrial partner.

Opening date to be announced in September. Find our more here.

NBIC Relevance:

There are some open calls from BBSRC that could be relevant to NBIC academic partners, and that could be supported by NBIC industrial partners. This would give the opportunity for knowledge transfer, development of new collaborations or production of further bids for grant funding.

The UKRI-SBE opportunity, whilst it is targeted at researchers from academic partners, is an opportunity for UK industrial partners to form partnerships and extend their networks to US research and industry.

A new funding scheme to support collaborations between UK businesses and universities is also to be announced later this year, with an opportunity for existing NBIC partnerships to fund joint research pull-through. More details available later this year.

Recent Publications Relevant to NBIC Partners

Health funding map from KTN and the BioIndustry Association

Intended to assist in the navigation of the health funding landscape, it also supports engagement between innovators in this sector and the KTN.

This provides a useful access point for the health funding landscape.

Available here.

Report on UK Catalysis

This report covers the domestic catalyst market in the UK and reviews opportunities for growth in the UK market and expansion of exports.

Prepared by the Knowledge Transfer Network on behalf of Innovate UK.

Available here. 

Report on UK composites industry, competitiveness and opportunities

Produced by BEIS, Innovate UK, HVMC (High Value Manufacturing Catapult) and KTN.

This is a study of the UK market for fibre reinforced polymer composites (FRPs) – it will be used by BEIS to inform future policy making, and would be a useful pointer to future competition themes.

Available here. 

NBIC Relevance:

These are some recently published studies and reports that could provide useful background for NBIC members and partners. They cover future planning and will be influential in the formulation of future competitions coming from Innovate UK and other government funding agencies.

The Health funding map is potentially useful for anyone taking a first overview of the funding schemes and competitions available. Links are provided to current opportunities in the health sector. Other similar maps may appear from the KTN for other competition areas, although nothing is available as yet.