SSPP: Liquid food and beverages in refillable packaging

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million. This is to demonstrate a reuse or refill packaging system for liquid food and beverage products, at scale in a retail chain.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £1.5 million

Opens: 18th Sep 2023

Closes: 25th Oct 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £1.5 million for innovative projects as part of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge.


The aim of this competition is to support business led projects that demonstrate a reuse or refill packaging system for liquid food and beverage products at scale in a retail chain.

Grants are available for projects that enable liquid products currently sold in Single Use Packaging to be purchased in refillable packaging. Packaging can be either already pre-filled or refilled in store for liquids including milk, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and sauces.

Your project must be or involve at least one large retail chain as project lead or grant funded partner. You must include five or more stores as part of an in-store pilot, lasting at least six months.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.


Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of between £500,000 and £1.5 million
  • last between 6 months and 12 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start by 1 April 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025

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.

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 or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming large retail chain

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to login or to create an account in the Innovation Funding Service. They are responsible for entering their own project costs in the application.

Non-funded partners

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.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are seeking to implement reusable food service or cup schemes
  • do not include a large retail chain
  • do not involve plastic packaging on one or both sides of the transition to refillable packaging

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 £1.5 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 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

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

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. Of that 30% 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 an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Capital equipment costs

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

The inclusion of capital costs is optional, not a requirement. Applications that include capital costs will be assessed in the same way as those that do not.

Your project must be able to demonstrate that your innovative concept will lead to improved packaging recycling or re-use, compared to existing re-use and recycling concepts of the same capacity. This includes types which may otherwise be constructed without the grant, should an existing competitive concept exist.

If you have questions about the eligibility of your capital costs, contact Innovate UK Customer Support Service at least 10 days before the competition close.

You will be asked to include a breakdown of any capital costs for your project, as part of your application. We may also contact you for further information related to your capital costs after your application has been submitted.

Any grant funded capital equipment disposed of during the project term, must be reported to Innovate UK. Any revenue generated by the disposal will be offset against the project costs.

For capital equipment costs, your grant funding request 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

You can choose to include capital usage as an eligible project cost for capital equipment that you already own or new equipment where you do not wish to claim capital purchase.

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.