Engineering Biology Collaborative R&D Round 2

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £6.7 million to develop Engineering Biology technologies, processes, products and services, or apply Engineering Biology as a solution to societal challenges.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £6.7 million

Opens: 30th May 2023

Closes: 26th Jul 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £6.7 million in this Engineering Biology collaborative R&D competition.

The competition is part of UKRI’s National Engineering Biology Programme (NEBP).


The aim of this competition is to deliver business led research and development that will:

  • lead to new engineering biology products, processes or services
  • de-risk the adoption of engineering biology technologies that offer high market potential

The funding support will help to accelerate the development and adoption of engineering biology technologies and techniques and by doing so provide solutions to societal challenges.

For the purpose of this competition, engineering biology refers to the:

  • development or use of synthetic biology using engineering principles to design and fabricate biological components and systems
  • adoption of synthetic biology in industrial processes and development of tools and technologies that support synthetic biology

Your proposal must clearly:

  • demonstrate how your innovation relates to synthetic biology
  • explain how your innovation fits with one or more of the specific themes for the competition

Your project can include:

  • evaluation
  • prototyping
  • product or service development planning
  • demonstrations of utility and effectiveness
  • demonstrations of safety or regulatory planning

Innovate UK encourage you to collaborate with the UK research base and help to grow the UK’s Engineering Biology ecosystem.

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • applying engineering biology solutions to one or more of the National Engineering Biology Programme (NEBP) themes
  • development of cross cutting engineering biology technologies or services

The NEBP themes are:

  • food systems
  • clean growth
  • environmental solutions
  • biomedicine


Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request between £70,000 and £350,000
  • start on 1 February 2024
  • end by 31 January 2025
  • last between 6 and 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.

Eligible lead organisations can apply as sole applicants or in collaboration with other eligible organisations.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size.

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.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

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

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • fundamental research or feasibility studies
  • focussed on a product that is already on the market
  • conducted to anything less than the highest standards of animal welfare
  • clinical trials or preclinical evaluation of therapeutics
  • not focussed on the competition themes

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 £6.7 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects 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.

For industrial research 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

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% 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 30% 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.