CLIMATES: Supply chain innovations for rare earths, strand 1

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £4 million for collaborative research and development projects. This funding is from Innovate UKs circular critical materials supply chains (CLIMATES) programme.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 15th Jan 2024

Closes: 13th Mar 2024

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £4 million in innovation projects as part of the CLIMATES programme. Your project must be focused on circular critical materials supply chains.


The aim of this competition is to stimulate growth in a circular critical materials supply chain for rare earth elements (REEs), or alternative materials. Your collaborative innovation project will address opportunities across the whole value chain and help increase supply chain resilience.

Rare earth elements (REEs) are defined as the group of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, the fifteen Lanthanides plus Scandium and Yttrium.

Your project must be focused on REEs, or new and alternative materials that substitute or reduce the use of REEs.

Your project can cover one, or more of the following areas:

Upstream processing

  • development of sustainable mining processes including beneficiation
  • development of novel, sustainable primary processing routes to rare earth oxides
  • increased efficiency or productivity improvements for primary processing to rare earth oxides
  • processes to address management of radioactive by-products

Midstream and downstream processing

  • development of novel, sustainable manufacturing routes to rare earth alloys and magnets
  • sustainable routes integrating materials from primary and secondary processes
  • increased performance of high-performance magnets
  • increased efficiency or productivity improvements for downstream REEs product manufacturing, for example, reduction in scrap production


  • development of processes and services for the collection, identification, separation or dismantling of rare earth containing final end of life products
  • novel and sustainable routes for processing recovered REEs
  • design for recycling of products containing REEs
  • solutions that enable materials provenance
  • sustainability models including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), embedded carbon, radioactivity, environmental social and governance (ESG) solutions

Alternative Materials

  • development of novel materials for high performance magnets
  • substitution of materials for high performance magnets


Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request up to £250,000
  • last between 3 months and 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start by 1 August 2024
  • end by 31 July 2025

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on a maximum of two applications across both strands of the competition and can be included as a collaborator in two further applications. Successful applicants will be asked to confirm they have the capacity to run multiple projects simultaneously.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

A research organisation can collaborate on any number of applications.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects:

  • that do not focus on the materials supply chain, either primary or secondary
  • that are not focused on REE or a materials substitution
  • that are designing new magnet-free electric machines
  • that are developing existing non-magnet products
  • that are addressing extending the life of REE containing products

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £4 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects across both strands in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

The balance between your total project costs and the amount of grant awarded must be funded by the organisation receiving the grant.

For feasibility studies, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 50% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.