SBRI: Decarbonising concrete

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of £3 million, inclusive of VAT, in developing solutions to accelerate decarbonising concrete.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £3 million

Opens: 8th Jan 2024

Closes: 4th Mar 2024

! This scheme is now closed


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Innovate UK.


The aim of this research, development and demonstration competition is to make the commercial adoption of lower carbon concrete happen faster. The results will enable engagement between innovation projects and end users.

This may be delivered by producing outcomes that increases the potential for future end users to make Advance Market Commitments (AMC) to buy the product on a commercial basis.

Your project must demonstrate how innovations will decarbonise concrete production and do one or both of the following:

  • address technical uncertainties in the formulation and use of innovative concrete, this can include production and the supply chain
  • address technical uncertainties in innovations within the production, supply chain and use of commercially available concretes

In this competition innovative concretes are defined as types of concrete that are not fully commercially adopted due to technical uncertainties in their production, supply chain or use.

Your project may include but is not limited to:

  • alternatives to Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) as a concrete binder, for example, calcined clay or combinations of calcined clay and limestone
  • improving the efficiency or optimisation of cement or concrete production, for example kiln efficiency or reducing binder content
  • recycling of cement
  • additives that reduce the carbon footprint of new concrete structures
  • new construction techniques that take advantage of the properties of innovative concretes
  • using concrete to sequester carbon
  • investigating different concrete chemistry for reinforced concrete, if it shows clearly, it can decarbonise concrete

Innovate UK expect you to provide a real world demonstration of your innovation, or an equivalent approach that can be shown to accelerate commercial adoption. You are responsible for ensuring performance data is made public to the extent needed to support commercialisation.

Innovate UK can provide a list of potential demonstration sites offered by the Concrete Commitment Cohort (CCC), but you can use any site which is technically relevant.

Carbon Commitment Cohort (CCC) includes representatives of:

  • Anglian Water
  • Environment Agency
  • Ferrovial
  • HS2
  • JN Bentley
  • Laing O’Rourke
  • National Highways
  • Sellafield Sites
  • Transport for London
  • United Utilities
  • WSP

You can email to request contact information for these organisations.

If your project involves concrete remaining in-situ at a demonstration site, you are responsible for:

  • handing over ownership of any concrete to the demonstration site by the end of the project
  • ensuring Innovate UK and partners retain access to the site for at least 2 years after the project has ended, for the purpose of performance monitoring of concrete

If successful, you will be asked to complete a short Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data collection template, as part of your project. This template will be provided to you by Innovate UK. This will support a future project on the data quality of LCA for steel, cement and concrete run by Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

You may be invited to undertake further carbon accounting activities as a part of the wider programme to develop an AMC.

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.


Projects must:

  • start by 1 May 2024
  • end by 30 April 2025
  • last between 9 and 12 months


To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

This competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

You are responsible for entering your project costs and completing your Project Impact questions in the application.

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, you can justify subcontracting components of the work, taking into consideration the range of subcontractors required to deliver your project outcomes. These outcomes must accelerate the development of solutions for decarbonising concrete.

The project and delivery against the project milestones will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

All research, development and testing must take place within the UK.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.


Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • use fresh fly ash or Ground Granulated Blast furnace Slag (GGBS) as principal Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs), unless the innovation is actively looking to reduce their use
  • develop alternative fuels for cement production
  • develop Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) applied to cement production where this does not involve the captured carbon being sequestered in concrete
  • concern construction techniques that solely minimise the use of concrete that is already commercially available
  • concern the replacement of concrete with other building materials
  • solely focus on additives without considering their use in concrete
  • are not original, in scope or duplicates someone else’s work

Funding Costs

A total of up to £3 million, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this competition.

Research and Development (R&D) contracts will be up to £500,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for between 9 and 12 months. We expect to fund a minimum of 6 projects.

The funders have the right to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach.

The contract is completed at the end of the competition and the successful organisation is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business. We will not provide any further advice and suggest you seek independent advice from HMRC.

VAT registered

If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT. As part of the application process VAT will be automatically calculated and added to your project cost total. Your total project costs inclusive of VAT must not exceed £500,000.

Not VAT registered

If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added. You will not be able to increase total project costs to cover VAT later should you become VAT registered. Your total project costs must not exceed £500,000.

Research and development (R&D)

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

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.