The Sustainable Innovation Fund: round 3 (temporary framework)

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £10 million for new projects focusing on sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £10 million

Opens: 1st Sep 2020

Closes: 30th Sep 2020

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £10 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.


COVID-19 has affected R&D across all sectors, and the aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK recover, grow and create new opportunities from the aftermath of the global health pandemic.

Your proposal must show evidence of key challenges as a direct consequence of COVID-19, and how your project can help solve them.

In addition, your proposal is expected to ensure that any recovery, growth and opportunity is clean and sustainable.

All projects are expected to consider COVID-19 recovery in a way that has a positive impact on climate change and/or environmental sustainability, and you should explain how this will be achieved, maintained and measured.

Innovate UK would also like you to address where necessary, equality, diversity and inclusion in relation to your project, your organisation(s) and your approach to innovation.

Your project can also focus on

  • decarbonisation, circular economy and/or biodiversity
  • climate change and environmental sustainability
  • geographic or regionally-targeted innovation
  • innovation that is aimed at commercial or residential users
  • innovations that work across more than one sector
  • follow-on international opportunities that help the UK lead the world


To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • involve at least one SME
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • be able to carry out project work under the current restrictions of COVID-19
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead or work alone.

Sole traders are not eligible to apply for this competition.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • be able to carry out project work under the current restrictions of COVID-19
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • enter your costs in the Innovation Funding Service

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding if applying as a collaboration.

The research organisations in your consortium 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.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Funding Costs

Up to £10 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

Under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework your business could get up to 80% funding for your eligible project costs, up to a maximum of £175,000 per organisation, regardless of size.

Research organisations working in collaboration undertaking non-economic activity will be funded as follows:

  • universities: 80% of full economic costs
  • all other research organisations: 100% of eligible costs

Up to £50,000 will be awarded to each grant-claiming organisation as an advance on grant payment 10 working days after the return of a fully-signed Grant Offer Letter (GOL). This will be taken off the first and any subsequent claims.

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £500,000.

Each funded partner can claim a maximum of £175,000 against their eligible project costs. This amount cannot exceed their cumulative aid total of €800,000 if they have received other funding as part of the Covid-19 Temporary Framework.

You must sign and return your grant offer letter by 14 December 2020, and be ready to start by 1 January 2021. Projects can last up to 3 months.


This competition is not funding projects that:

  • are not related to an impact on a business due to COVID-19 disruption
  • have a negative impact on the environment and/or society
  • have a detrimental effect on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • would duplicate other UK government activities or EU-funded initiatives already underway, such as the testing or manufacture of vaccines and ventilators
  • do not involve any research and development or innovation, for example the creation of information-only websites