Sustainable bio-based materials and manufacture: CR&D

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £12 million for collaborative research and development. This is to develop step-change improvements to sustainable biomanufacturing in the UK.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £12 million

Opens: 7th Mar 2023

Closes: 3rd May 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), all part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £12 million for this competition. The funding will support research and innovation projects to develop sustainable biomanufacture based products.


The aim of this competition is to develop the design and delivery of new and disruptive sustainable biomanufacturing by 2050. Enabling the UK to be more globally competitive by supporting collaborative research and development (CR&D) across different industries and sectors.

The need for change is driven by the three strategic imperatives:

  • climate change
  • supply chain resilience
  • the cost of energy

Your proposal must support organisations in biomanufacturing in the future to be:

  • net zero and resource efficient
  • resilient and responsive
  • technologically advanced and digital

Your project must address the challenge of developing innovations in sustainable biomanufacturing processes.

This can be by:

  • increasing the use of bio-based feedstocks
  • using biotechnology for alternative bio-based chemical replacements including low carbon polymers and, liquid and gaseous fuels for transport, heating and renewable energy
  • enhancing the sustainability profile of biotechnology processes
  • innovative use and re-use of renewable feedstocks
  • biotechnology-based manufacture processes for sustainable and circular products with whole systems approach
  • consideration of broader life cycle thinking

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • improving extraction of existing bio-based feedstocks and optimising these processes
  • using biotechnology based systems for developing alternatives to traditional manufacturing processes, including processing and catalysis for sustainability
  • the design and development of future advanced bio-products with improved or differentiated properties
  • the discovery of novel or optimisation of enzymes to whole organisms for biomanufacturing
  • securing value from non-food crop biomass and other waste streams
  • improving manufacturability and consistency at scale and progressing the development and adoption of biotechnology, across multiple manufacturing industries and sectors

Innovate UK will fund industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.


Your project must:

  • have total costs between £300,000 and £1 million
  • start by 1 October 2023
  • end by 30 September 2025
  • last between 12 and 24 months
  • be collaborative
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • be a UK registered academic institution or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • be or involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

Applications involving collaborations of businesses with academic institutions and research organisations are particularly encouraged to apply.

If the lead organisation is an academic institution or a research and technology organisation (RTO), it must collaborate with at least one business of any size and must include one grant claiming SME.

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 accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into 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 project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and are limited to no more than 20% of the project’s total eligible costs.

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.

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

An academic institution or research and technology organisation (RTO), can lead or collaborate on any number of applications.

An organisation not eligible to lead can collaborate on a maximum of two applications.

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


Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • focused on enabling areas such as energy, regulations and policy, skills and relations
  • focused on value models
  • focused on incremental improvements of sustainable biomanufacture processes
  • biopharmaceuticals for diagnosis or therapeutics, including recombinant protein, or nucleic acid-based vaccines or antimicrobials microbiomes towards human health therapeutics
  • sustainable aviation fuel
  • alternate protein sources for example, food and beverage
  • carbon capture and storage technology, however the use of captured carbon as a feedstock is in scope

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 £12 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 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

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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% 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 50% 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

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.