Integrated innovation for nuclear decommissioning

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £3 million to integrate and demonstrate innovative technologies for nuclear decommissioning


Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Up to £1.5m

Opens: 30th Jan 2017

Closes: 26th Apr 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The aim of this competition is to stimulate innovation in and reduce the cost of nuclear decommissioning. Projects should produce a step change in the decommissioning or dismantling process and address the following objectives:

  • minimise human intervention
  • increase productivity
  • optimise waste treatment, packing and routing

Innovate UK are looking to fund projects that integrate technologies into a single platform, or a small number of platforms. These should be able to demonstrate multiple tasks in the decommissioning process with minimum human intervention. Projects should achieve this in a non-active environment by the end of September 2019.

The proposed platform must be able to demonstrate, at different scales, as many of the following tasks as possible:

  • characterisation
  • visualisation and planning
  • decontamination
  • size reduction (planning and delivery
  • contamination management
  • holding
  • moving
  • waste packing

Innovate UK are also keen to see technology transfer from other sectors. In particular, exploitation in advances in robotics in combination with other innovative technologies. Examples of technologies that may work together include, but are not limited to:

  • robotics and autonomous systems
  • sensors and detectors
  • imaging
  • artificial intelligence
  • virtual reality
  • digital and ICT
  • big data
  • modelling and simulation

Projects are expected to produce a representative demonstration of integrated capabilities. The layout and hardware used in the demonstration should be representative of a nuclear decommissioning scenario. The capabilities demonstrated should be able to manage some or all of the following variables and constraints:

  • building/room (nuclear cell) dimensions
  • vessel, tank, pipe and steelwork dimensions and geometries
  • level of hazards (radiation, contamination and chemicals)
  • space limitations (inside and outside cell)
  • infrastructure (for example, ventilation, power, water)

The aim is to be able to transfer the technology to an active site at Sellafield within 1 year of successful phase 2 project completion.

Innovate UK are also particularly interested in demonstrators that could be transferable to other sectors operating in hazardous environments.


  • You can be an organisation of any size
  • You can work alone or in collaboration with others (business, research base and third sector)
  • Projects that transfer technology from other sectors are eligible
  • All applicants will need to show that their proposed idea has a credible and practical route to market

Funding and project details

Funding or this competition is divided across 2 phases:

  • Phase 1: up to £400,000
  • Phase 2: up to £2.6 million


Phase 1

  • Need to produce a detailed technology plan and business case.
  • Projects can range in size up to a total cost of £50,000.

Please note in the phase 1 proposal, you should provide a plan and details of your goals for phase 2. You should also include plans for full commercialisation.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is only open to applicants that have successfully completed phase 1. Innovate UK will take the most promising projects from phase 1 into phase 2, subject to independent assessment and budget limitations.

In phase 2, you will:

  • develop and evaluate integrated systems based on your phase 1 proposal.
  • Projects can range in size up to a total cost of £1.5 million.