Newton Bhabha UK–India industrial waste challenge 2017

Key Features

UK organisations can apply for a share of £8 million to work with Indian partners on biotechnology solutions for industrial waste challenges in India.

Programme:     Newton Bhabha Fund

Award:     Up to £2m

Opens: 5th Jun 2017

Closes: 18th Oct 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The aim of this competition is to encourage partnerships between the UK and India. Innovate UK, the Research Councils and the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) are funding this competition as part of the Newton Bhabha Fund.

Projects should address reducing industrial waste and pollution, and improve value recovery from waste using biotechnology in one or more of these 5 sectors:

  • leather/tanning/textiles
  • municipal solid waste
  • paper and pulp
  • sewage
  • sugar cane

These industrial sectors have been selected as a competition focus because their processes have a negative impact on India’s environment and ecology (particularly India’s water resources). However, these sectors contribute greatly to India’s economy. They also employ a significant percentage of India’s population, including people who are economically weaker and marginalised.

Each sector has a specific challenge, these are:

Challenge 1: leather/tanning/textiles

The chemical processes used in the leather, tanning and textiles industries result in waste water that, unless adequately treated, will have a negative impact on local ecology, health and agricultural production.

There is an opportunity to show how waste water and other waste treatment can be improved by applying innovative biotechnology-driven processes.

This challenge is particularly interested in biotechnological solutions that:

  • reduce or remove heavy metals, organic dye and protein particles from waste water
  • recover higher-value products such as chromium (and other metals) or compounds for further manufacturing

Challenge 2: municipal solid waste

Applicants are invited to put forward commercially viable and scalable innovations to meet India’s significant waste management challenges. Proposals should include:

  • new cost-effective, biotechnology-driven processes to recover, separate or extract valuable components from urban household or commercial waste
  • developing new biotechnologies for community-owned recycling schemes based on a viable ‘circular economy’ model
  • innovative and rapid processes of waste disposal

Challenge 3: paper and pulp

Pulping and paper-making generates waste.  Waste management and treatment across the industry varies. There is a need for more efficient water treatment and biological techniques and better use of integrated technologies (bio and physicochemical treatment).

This challenge is particularly interested in biotechnological solutions that focus on reducing or removing lignocellulosic biomass, heavy metal ions bleaching agents and sulphites from waste water.

Challenge 4: sewage

An important challenge for India is to provide reliable, sustainable, affordable sewage treatment plants at an appropriate scale to treat waste water and reuse treated water, resources or nutrients.

This challenge is particularly interested in biotechnological solutions that focus on processing sewage to:

  • reduce waste water contamination
  • use residues to manufacture chemicals and fuels

Challenge 5: sugar cane

Sugar cane processing generates:

  • large quantities of biomass waste, primarily bagasse and cane trash
  • press mud which is discarded as solid waste from sugar mills
  • waste water

This challenge is particularly interested in biotechnological solutions that focus on reducing or removing lignocellulosic biomass from waste water and its recovery for use in manufacturing high-value products.

For more information on these challenges, click here



To apply to this Newton Fund call, your project consortium must include, as a minimum:

  • a UK-based business
  • a UK higher education institution or research council institute eligible for BBSRC/EPSRC funding
  • a Government of India supported or recognised academic institution or research organisation

The project must show how it meets the scope of this competition, including:

  • that India is the primary target market for the project
  • how it fits within official development assistance (ODA) criteria

The project consortium must be led by:

  • either a business or a research organisation in the UK
  • an academic institution or research organisation in India


Funding and project details

Project costs

In the UK, the proportion of total eligible project costs is dependent on the type of applicant:

  • UK-based businesses’ total eligible project costs must be 50% or higher
  • research organisations (including higher education institutes and research council institutes), public sector organisations and charities (undertaking non-economic activity) can together claim up to 50% of total eligible project costs

In India, DBT will:

  • support 100% of the academic partners budgeted costs
  • support 50% of the industry partners budgeted costs to a maximum of INR 15 million (INR 1.50 crores). Matched funding must come from the industry

Project types

Projects must focus on industrial research. Work packages that include elements of experimental development will be considered within projects that predominantly target industrial research.

For industrial research, you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME

For experimental development work packages, you could get:

  • up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME

Projects are expected to last between 30 months and 3 years.

The total project grant will not exceed £2 million per project in the UK.