ISCF TFI: large collaborative R&D projects

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £8 million for research and development projects to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK foundation industries. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £8 million

Opens: 11th Jan 2021

Closes: 10th Mar 2021

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £8 million for collaborative cross-sector, research and development projects.

The aim of this competition is to improve the productivity and competitiveness of foundation industry companies and supply chains, by funding cross-sector collaborative research and development projects.


This competition aims to bring foundation industry sector businesses together with their immediate supply chain and equipment providers. Together they will work on common resource and energy efficiency challenges.

It will fund cross-sector and collaborative research and development projects which:

  • further develop technologies to reduce deployment risk and accelerate take-up across industries
  • develop new technologies that, when deployed, would create a step-change in resource or energy efficiency in these industries

The foundation industries sectors include:

  • cement
  • paper
  • glass
  • ceramics
  • metals
  • chemicals

Your project must be aimed at improving the productivity and competitiveness of foundation industry companies and their immediate supply chain.

Your project must address one or more resource or energy efficiency challenges that are common to more than one of the six foundation industries sectors.

Your project can focus on any part of the manufacturing process, including:

  • inputs in materials and other feedstocks
  • development of new materials
  • process efficiency (for example heat recovery, waste utilisation)
  • business model development

Your application can build upon innovations developed in earlier Transforming Foundation Industry competitions, including:

Your project must address one or more of these themes:

  • heat recovery and utilisation
  • sensors, controls and digitalisation
  • waste utilisation and symbiosis
  • other energy or resource efficiency improvements (business model, process, product or supply chain)


This competition is not funding projects that:

  • do not focus on foundation industries and their immediate supply chains
  • are undertaking feasibility studies or experimental development
  • focus on fuel switching or greenhouse gas capture technology
  • focus solely on skills
  • are capital or infrastructure projects


Your organisation must:

You do not need to be in the foundation industries to lead a consortium but you must include at least 2 businesses of any size, from at least 2 foundation industry sectors.

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses of any size.

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

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

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Funding Costs

ISCF have allocated up to £8 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £1 million and £2 million
  • start by 1 September 2021
  • last between 12 and 24 months

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days prior to the competition closing date.

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 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

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.