Unlocking nature positive private investment

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million for developing solutions that enable private investors to invest in nature positive projects. This funding is from Innovate UK.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 12th Feb 2024

Closes: 10th Apr 2024

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will invest up to £2 million in supporting innovation projects. These innovation projects will develop solutions that enable private investors to invest in nature positive private investment projects.

This funding is from Innovate UK and is part of a £7 million Integrating Finance and Biodiversity for a Nature Positive Future (IFB) programme led by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


The aim of the Integrating Finance and Biodiversity for a Nature Positive Future (IFB) programme, is to understand the complex links between biodiversity, finance and society.

The IFB programme will explore the gaps and integration between the financial system and biodiversity, with the aim of improving the integration of biodiversity into financial decision-making, frameworks, reporting and planning.

The aim of this competition is to mobilise significant private investment to scale nature positive solutions. The competition will enable the development, acceleration and commercialisation of innovative solutions. These solutions must enable private investors to confidently invest in nature positive projects.

Your project must support the scaling of nature positive solutions, by enabling biodiversity-related risks and opportunities to be incorporated into planning, reporting and investment decisions for the finance and business sectors.

Your project must address and overcome previously identified barriers to private investment in nature, including but not limited to:

  • limited sources of revenue from nature to fund investment
  • high-transaction costs and significant disincentives for investment in nature-based projects
  • insufficient certainty to price long term risk, due to a lack of standards and accreditation
  • limited project pipeline and scale and an under-developed supply chain

Your project must consider factors that are important in the context of nature and biodiversity, including but not limited to:

  • wider impacts including climate adaptation and resilience
  • impact on people including indigenous communities
  • removing barriers to adoption of solutions including, for example, trust, authenticity and traceability of the data, and lack of data expertise

Your project must:

  • provide a strong case for why your proposed solution will be in demand from end users
  • demonstrate how the proposed solution would enable end users to invest in nature positive solutions
  • provide a plan for how to engage end users, for example, financial institutions and investors in its development

Your project can involve at least one end user, for example, a financial institution. They are not required to be a grant claiming participant.

Your project can build upon the outcomes of the research projects supported through Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded IFB phase 1 activity. This is not compulsory.

Specific Themes

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

  • data, tools, models and metrics, including decision making tools
  • environmental monitoring and verification of investments, over time, cost effectively
  • insurance or insurability of projects
  • solutions that help aggregate projects to attract finance


Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of between £250,000 and £500,000
  • last up to 9 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • start on 1 September 2024
  • end by 30 May 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 or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

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 micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • can collaborate with other UK registered organisations

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)

All project teams must have as a lead or grant claiming partner, at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) 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 IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

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

Number of applications

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

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

All other organisations can collaborate on any number of applications.

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.

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 are not funding projects that directly deliver nature positive solutions.

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 £2 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.

The balance between your total project costs and the amount of grant awarded must be funded by the organisation receiving the grant.

For feasibility studies and 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

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 20% 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 20% 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.