Net zero living: Pioneer places

Key Features

UK registered businesses and local authorities can apply for a share of up to £2 million to plan for a place based demonstration of ways to accelerate progress towards net zero.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 26th Oct 2022

Closes: 30th Nov 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in innovation projects. These will be for local authorities and businesses to develop detailed local plans for innovative approaches to unlock non-technical systemic barriers to the delivery of net zero targets.


The aim of this first phase competition is to fund up to 30 place based projects. These will develop detailed local plans for innovative approaches to unlock non-technical systemic barriers to the delivery of net zero targets.

Your plan must show how non-technical systemic barriers to rapidly accelerate progress to net zero targets in a defined place can be overcome.

You must explain how these places, local businesses and communities can thrive through that transition through innovative technologies and solutions. The removal of these barriers will enable innovative solutions to be adopted at scale and drive local economic growth.

Your proposal must demonstrate a deep understanding of the opportunities from any non-technical systemic barriers, to delivery of net zero objectives in the area.

You must consider the whole net zero system in your area, including:

  • power
  • heat
  • mobility
  • product manufacture and usage

This must be across domestic, commercial and industrial users, as appropriate for the area. Links to other sectors are also welcome where relevant to the delivery of local net zero targets.

You must show engagement with letters of support demonstrating senior level commitment from the local authority for your proposal.

Your application must outline your experiences and understanding of non-technical systemic barriers that are preventing effective delivery of net zero. You must include an outline of your potential innovative solutions to overcome these barriers.

On completion of your feasibility study you will be required to submit a final report. Your final report must:

  • align to and build on your current activities and experiences
  • deliver a detailed plan outlining how your consortium will unlock system barriers to achieve net zero at scale with a whole systems approach considering power, heat, mobility, product manufacture and usage
  • explain how you will demonstrate removal of critical barriers to delivering net zero in your area or region with a follow on phase
  • demonstrate a systems approach by considering whole system integration to enable more efficient whole system costs of provisions to transition to net zero
  • show how you will approach benefit identification to place, society, carbon emissions and net zero, including the size and scale of benefits to be targeted
  • describe which net zero tools you will be using
  • develop a resource plan explaining which partners and organisations you need to accomplish your goals for a potential second phase of this project including the timescales and delivery methods
  • develop a financial plan showing how your financial resources will be shared and split through the project lifetime
  • develop a sustainability plan for use beyond the funding and deliverables to continue improving and unlocking system barriers, this is a starting point – how will local authorities change their culture, long term plans and continue net zero transition into the future
  • describe your community engagement approach and plans for supporting all citizens through the transition including socio economic considerations as well as protected characteristics
  • explain how you will disseminate your learning from future trial outputs publicly on a regular basis, sharing any barriers encountered through the process and the solution you have applied
  • describe how you will aim for an open source data and sharing of information in an appropriate format for specific audience
  • consider how you will work with local authorities, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Ofgem and Code Administrators to implement your design
  • describe how your proposal will be scalable or replicable across the UK

Specific Theme

Your project must:

  • focus on a whole systems approach which considers power, heat, mobility, product manufacture and usage in domestic, commercial and industrial settings, as appropriate for your local area
  • identify and address non-technical systemic barriers, not infrastructure and technical barriers
  • clearly show how the proposal links to your ongoing delivery of your existing net zero plans and development in your area
  • show how you will work to align with other ongoing activities for example in financing and capability provision

Your proposal must address non-technical systemic barriers to delivery including but not limited to:

  • financing
  • capacity, capability and skills
  • consumer engagement and behaviour change
  • policy and regulation
  • system governance
  • common data standards for open source and interoperability
  • ability to influence strategic grid reinforcement


Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request between £50,000 and £75,000
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 June 2023
  • last between 1 and 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • demonstrate alignment with current delivery activities within your existing Net Zero Transition Plans or Climate Action Plans
  • be based on existing experience of delivering systems based approaches to net zero
  • be scalable or replicable by other places within the UK
  • have an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy in place for the organisations involved

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK Local Authority or a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

A minimum of two grant claiming partners must be included to be an eligible collaboration and must include a minimum of one UK registered business and one Local Authority.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project.

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 project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are previously unsuccessful projects
  • are not innovative
  • are unable to demonstrate delivery
  • are net zero infrastructure or new technology projects
  • do not consider heat, transport, manufacturing, or power as whole systems approaches
  • does not address non-technical systemic barriers to delivering net zero in a UK geographic area

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Funding Costs

Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For feasibility studies, 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 and local authorities undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 80% of the total grant funding. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 80% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are a local authority, RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Please note: if a local authority elects to undertake non-economic activity, they must not act commercially with any project outputs.

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.