Critical materials for magnets: Strand 1, feasibility studies

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £5 million for innovative projects that stimulate growth in the rare earth elements (REE) critical materials supply chain. This funding is from Innovate UKs CLIMATES programme.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £5 million

Opens: 11th Apr 2023

Closes: 21st Jun 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £5 million in innovation projects as part of the CLIMATES programme, that is focused on circular critical materials supply chains.


The aim of this competition is to stimulate growth in a circular critical materials supply chain for high performance magnets. Collaborative innovation projects will address opportunities across the whole value chain and help increase supply chain resilience.

Your project must be focused on rare earth elements (REE) or new and alternative materials for permanent magnets. REEs are defined as the group of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, the fifteen Lanthanides plus Scandium and Yttrium.

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

Mining and up-stream

  • development of sustainable mining processes for extracting REE containing minerals. This includes the up-steam processing of leaching, separation and concentration of mixed REE oxides.
  • processes that address management or valorisation of radioactive by-products


  • development of novel, sustainable mid-stream processing routes to REE metals
  • increased efficiency or productivity improvements for mid-stream processing to REE metals
  • development of novel, sustainable manufacturing routes to REE alloys

Down-stream and magnet manufacture

  • development of novel, sustainable manufacturing routes to REE magnets
  • increased efficiency or productivity improvements for magnet manufacturing
  • sustainable routes integrating materials from primary and secondary material feedstocks
  • increased technical properties and performance of magnets
  • decreased scrap production in magnet manufacturing

Circular supply chains

  • identification, collection, sorting, separation, dismantling REE containing end-of-life products
  • circular design of products containing high performance magnets
  • safe and economic removal of high-performance magnets from end-of-life products
  • novel and sustainable routes for processing of recovered REE materials
  • valorisation of scrap material produced during magnet manufacture
  • environmental, societal, governance
  • solutions for the provenance of REE materials for instance, sustainability models for life cycle analysis, measuring and accounting for embedded carbon, radioactivity and other environmental and societal impacts

New and alternative materials

  • development of novel materials for high-performance magnets
  • substitution of materials for high-performance magnets
  • cross-disciplinary mine to magnet approaches for materials identification

We will fund feasibility projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.


Your project must:

  • have total costs up to £500,000
  • start on 1 October 2023
  • last up to 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

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

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 by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

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

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.

A business can only lead on a maximum of 3 applications across both strands of the competition and can be included as a collaborator in a further 3 applications. Successful applicants in multiple applications 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 across both strands.

An academic institution, charity, not for profit, public sector organisation and RTO can collaborate on any number of applications across both strands.

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

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • an overdue independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions


Innovate UK are not funding projects:

  • that do not focus on the materials supply chain, either primary or secondary
  • designing new magnet-free electric motors
  • that are developing existing non-magnet products
  • not focused on REE or a materials substitution
  • not being primarily exploited in the UK
  • addressing extending the life of magnet 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 £5 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects across both strands of this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the funding allocations between the two competition strands
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

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.

For feasibility studies projects, 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 for feasibility studies.

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.