Innovate UK Fast Start Net Zero Living Digital

Key Features

UK registered small and micro businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million to develop data driven digital applications solving challenges in delivering net zero. This funding is from Net Zero Living and Telecoms Technology Missions Fund programmes

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 2nd Jan 2024

Closes: 24th Jan 2024

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK is offering UK registered small and micro businesses a share of up to £2 million in grants. In addition to the grant support, you will be offered tailored business support delivered by Innovate UK EDGE.

Your innovation must lead to new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

For the Net Zero living Digital Fast Start projects, £1.5 million has been allocated for innovative approaches using multiple databases, generating synthetic data to create a product or a service that supports the net zero agenda. Businesses should acknowledge and support Innovate UK net zero living data guidance principles. You must focus on data driven digital innovation supporting the net zero agenda.

For the Telecoms Technology Missions Fund projects, £500,000 has been allocated for innovation in the telecommunications domain specifically.


The aim of this competition is to provide a package of targeted support to enable ambitious UK registered micro and small businesses to develop and deliver net zero solutions through data driven digital applications.

Innovate UK want the businesses to acknowledge and support Innovate UK net zero living data guidance principles. You must focus on data driven digital innovation supporting the net zero agenda

Your proposal must be a software or data lead solution in one or more of the net zero challenges:

  • power
  • heat
  • mobility
  • product manufacture and usage

Your digital product must be for domestic, commercial, industrial, or public authority users. Links to other sectors are also welcome where relevant to the delivery of net zero.

It must make use of a number of open and shared data sets or synthetic data across a range of net zero relevant topics, including but not limited to:

  • energy vectors and assets
  • citizens and communities
  • buildings
  • geography
  • transport
  • carbon emissions
  • industry
  • economy

Your digital products or services must help to accelerate the net zero agenda, be replicable and scalable. You can focus on decision making tools, cost evaluation, reporting tools, prioritisation, or citizen engagement.

For the Telecoms Technology Missions Fund, projects funded will develop and deliver solutions using data to drive Net Zero in networks including public and private fixed and wireless.

In your application, you must demonstrate that you:

  • have a great idea
  • need public funding
  • have the capability to deliver the project
  • will deliver the project

Innovate UK are particularly interested in how your proposal will help you:

  • develop both your ambitious idea and your business
  • create a new revenue stream, for example new products, services or IP
  • evidence and enable your market, funding and commercialisation plans
  • show what is feasible, in helping you decide whether to pursue your idea further
  • catalyse further innovation on your path to commercial success
  • respond to changing market conditions

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across:

  • specific challenge themes and technologies
  • project durations
  • project costs, including demonstrating value for money
  • UK regions


Your project must:

  • have total project costs and grant request of between £25,000 and £50,000
  • start by 01 April 2024
  • end by 30 September 2024
  • last between 3 and 6 months in duration
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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. If you exceed the total project costs of £50,000 you will be ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered micro or small business.

If your business has been funded directly by Innovate UK previously, you are not eligible to apply for this competition. If however you have received funding directly from Innovate UK EDGE or a Catapult scheme, you are still eligible to apply for this competition.

Businesses with directors who have previously received a grant or Innovation Loan from Innovate UK as part of a different company, are eligible to apply but will be considered on a case by case basis.

A business with a previous award to a parent or subsidiary would also be eligible to apply, but the parent company must be classified as a micro or small business. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis.


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 also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

An eligible UK business can submit one application only. We will only award grant funding to one project per business.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. This means you can submit an application that was unsuccessful in one previous competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope requirements
  • do not support the net zero agenda
  • do not focus on innovative data applications and utilisation of data sets
  • purely result in reports, academic papers or similar
  • do not evidence potential for the proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic or societal impact
  • do not evidence value for money

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that:

  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £2 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Innovate UK will allocate £1.5 million to businesses that focus on developing and delivering net zero solutions through data driven digital applications. An additional £500,000 of this funding will be allocated to businesses that focus on innovation within the telecommunications domain specifically.

Each eligible business can apply for a grant of between £25,000 and £50,000.

Your total project costs will be 100% funded. Total project costs detailed within your application must not exceed the maximum project size. If your total project costs are below the minimum of £25,000 or exceed the maximum of £50,000 then your application will be made ineligible.

You can make reference to any additional voluntary contribution in your application answers. However, it must not be detailed in the finance section.

Innovate UK will aim to pay:

  • 70% of your grant request within a month of your agreed project start date
  • a further 20% in arrears, after approval of your 70% claim and the evidence of spend made, submitted with your claim
  • the remaining 10% of the grant 10 to 14 days after Innovate UK approve your final claim

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.