ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Demonstrators – EoI

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £16 million for bold and ambitious demonstrator projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £16 million

Opens: 10th Feb 2021

Closes: 24th Mar 2021

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £16 million from the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Programme to support projects that demonstrate innovation at a commercial scale.


The aim of this competition is to support business-led projects that demonstrate innovation at commercial scale to address problems in relation to plastic packaging for consumer products.

This competition aims to fund a portfolio of projects addressing the four UK Plastics Pact targets, across a variety of:

  • technologies
  • markets

Your project must demonstrate a holistic approach, including the likely environmental impacts to:

  • humans
  • wildlife and
  • the broader environment

Your project must demonstrate an idea at commercial scale which:

  • improves the sustainability of the plastic packaging supply chain
  • helps deliver the targets of the UK Plastics Pact
  • utilises innovation in design, technology, processes, business models, supply chains or data for plastic packaging
  • embeds a whole-systems approach to plastic packaging sustainability, considering environmental, economic and social factors

You must quantify the benefits of the new approach compared to the system your project intends to replace or improve.

Innovate UK are particularly interested in projects which address the UK Plastic Pact targets by demonstrating at scale:

  • minimised or reduced plastic packaging
  • refillable packaging and systems
  • sustainable solutions for film and flexibles
  • food grade recycled polypropylene and polyethylene
  • behaviour change leading to less packaging waste or higher recycling rates
  • solutions for problematic or unnecessary single use plastic packaging items


This competition will not give subsidies to projects that:

  • are detrimental to the environment compared with current dominant solutions
  • encourage or facilitate the export of plastic packaging whilst still classified as waste
  • will primarily produce any kind of fuel or direct energy generation from plastic waste
  • develop materials or packaging which do not have commercially available and viable UK recycling, or appropriate organic waste treatment infrastructure in place by 2025
  • relate to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polystyrene, including expanded polystyrene (EPS) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS)
  • are dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy 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 insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product


Your project must:

  • request a minimum grant of £1 million
  • request a maximum grant of £12 million
  • start by 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 January 2025
  • last between 12 and 36 months

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered business, , academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions cannot lead a project.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Funding Costs

Up to £16 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Grants of between £1 million and £12 million will be awarded. Because Innovate UK are looking to encourage large scale projects, there is no maximum limit for your total eligible project costs.

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.

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