UKRI Circular fashion programme: recycling and sorting demonstrator

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £4 million for a demonstration of innovative technologies, services and processes for the UK’s Fashion and Textile sector.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 14th Nov 2022

Closes: 11th Jan 2023

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to invest up to £4 million in an innovation project. This will be to develop and demonstrate closed-loop recycling for the fashion and textile sector at scale. This is the initial activity of a £15 million UKRI Circular Fashion Programme.


The aim of this competition is to fund a research and development activity demonstrator. This will demonstrate new technologies, services, processes and business models capable of addressing the recycling and sorting challenges, as part of the UK’s fashion and textile sector and their direct supply chains.

Your proposal must be for a multi-disciplinary, collaborative, demonstration project.

Your project must support a demonstration of innovation at an industrially relevant scale, which will:

  • increase the proportion of post-consumer fashion and textiles retained in a closed loop system
  • increase the market value of processed post-consumer fashion and textiles
  • reduce the proportion of post-consumer fashion and textiles which is sent to landfill, destroyed or exported
  • develop and disseminate best practices in technologies, services, processes and business models to support wider industry and policy makers

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on mixed fabrics.

In addition, we also encourage applications focussing on one or more of the following materials:

  • wool
  • cotton
  • polyester


Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request between £3 million and £4 million
  • start by 1 June 2023
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • last between 18 and 22 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

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.

If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations
  • be or involve at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • involve at least one academic institution (can be non grant claiming)
  • involve at least one relevant trade association (can be non grant claiming)

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

Innovate UK encourage collaborations from the fashion and textile supply chain including:

  • manufacturers
  • retailers
  • recyclers

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.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not focus on the fashion and textile sector and their immediate supply chains
  • respond only to the skills and needs of the fashion and textile sector
  • are not primarily undertaking industrial research
  • are solely capital or infrastructure projects
  • include marketing

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 £4 million has been allocated to fund an innovation project 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

Research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the grant funding request.

Each research organisation can claim a maximum of 20% of the grant funding request. For example, you can have two research organisations each claiming 20% and a third claiming 10%.

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.