Competition 22 – Delivering a net zero NHS: Clinical Innovation Competition

Key Features

In 2020, the NHS became the first health system in the world to commit to reaching net zero

Programme:     SBRI

Award:     Share of up to £500,000

Opens: 14th Aug 2023

Closes: 27th Sep 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Climate change is a health emergency. More than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. Air pollution contributes to one in 20 deaths in the UK and is the cause of increased cases of asthma, cancer and heart disease. Contributing around 4% of UK emissions, the NHS is both a part of the problem and the solution; it must tackle climate change at source if it is to deliver on its core purpose: to improve health and care, now and for our future generations.

In 2020, the NHS became the first health system in the world to commit to reaching net zero , with two targets:

  • Reaching Net zero by 2040 for the NHS Carbon Footprint (for direct emissions), with an ambition for an 80% reduction (compared with a 1990 baseline) by 2028 to 2032.
  • Reaching Net zero by 2045 for the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus (including those the NHS
    influences), with an ambition for an 80% reduction (compared with a 1990 baseline) by 2036 to 2039.

Since 2010, the NHS has reduced its emissions by 30%, thanks to steps taken across the workforce – but more transformation that continues to improve quality of patient care while also reducing carbon emissions is required in every setting. Developing technologies and investing in innovation now will accelerate action and ensure the best outcomes for patients.

Funded by the Accelerated Access Collaborative, and in partnership with Greener NHS and the AHSN Network, our second Phase 1 net zero competition sought innovative solutions that focused on decarbonising clinical pathways that are the most carbon intensive. This will require change across the whole care continuum including early disease detection, accurate diagnosis and the highest quality and most targeted treatments to not only cut emissions but also improve patient care.

The four challenge areas were:

  • Decarbonising surgical pathways
  • Reducing waste in surgery and critical care
  • Net zero personalised care
  • Tools to support the workforce to deliver net zero care


The following funding prerequisites apply to all applications and will be considered by the funding Panel:

A commitment to involve members of the public and patients in the design and management of the research, evaluation or study.

A commitment to actively engage in tackling healthcare inequalities, and in supporting diversity and inclusion, by including communities where the proposed innovation will make the biggest impact.

Steps towards contributing to the overall carbon neutral strategy for the NHS.

Phase 2 contracts are intended to develop and evaluate prototypes or demonstration units from the more promising technologies in Phase 1. Only those projects that have completed Phase 1 successfully will be eligible for Phase 2.

Funding Costs

The development contracts awarded in Phase 2 will be for a maximum of 12 months and up to £500,000 (NET cost, excl. VAT) per project.

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.