ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging: Demonstrators Round 2 Full Stage

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: 6th May 2021

Closes: 14th Jul 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 Challenge.


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.

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

  • humans
  • wildlife
  • 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.

You must explain how you are innovating to address one or more of the UK Plastics Pact targets. The benefits of the new approach must be quantified in terms of the Pact targets. Any environmental impacts must be described and justified.

Specific Themes

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


Innovate UK are not funding 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 the recycling of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polystyrene, including expanded polystyrene (EPS) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS)
  • dependent on export performance
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage


Your project must:

  • claim a grant between £1 million and £12 million
  • start between 1 January and 1 April 2022
  • end by 31 January 2025
  • last between 12 and 36 months

Because we are looking to encourage large scale projects, there is no maximum limit for your total eligible project costs

To lead a project your organisation must:

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

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, research organisation, 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

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

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

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £16 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Innovate UK will award grants between £1 million and £12 million, there is no maximum limit for your total eligible project costs.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly 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

Applications can include the purchase of capital equipment as an eligible project cost for large-scale commercial demonstration projects.

Your total grant funding for capital equipment costs must not exceed

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