The aim of the funding opportunity is to support five co-created centres that accelerate the translation and commercialisation of market-informed solutions to drive the green economy.
You must demonstrate meaningful engagement, collaboration and integration with key partners which could include businesses, investors, civic bodies, potential customers and other researchers. The partners will be appropriate to the challenge, target location and build a critical mass of capacity and capability within the emerging green market identified.
Accelerating the Green Economy Centres will:
- attract private investment to be deployed effectively in clean, green solutions as emerging markets mature
- cluster the local capabilities of towns, cities, rural economies and regions to enhance success
- accelerate the exploitation and commercialisation of new knowledge, innovations or solutions through co-investment and partnerships
- tackle specific, emerging industry-led research and innovation priorities to support the scale up and adoption of green economy solutions
- test and deploy green economy solutions and technologies in geographies across the UK
Accelerating the Green Economy Centres should:
- be co-created and co-delivered between academia, business and critical stakeholder organisations for example, local government, in response to emerging sector opportunities where the UK can build strategic advantage
- build upon established research-based collaborations across academia, business, policymakers and the third sector
- undertake collaborative research projects, proof of concept studies and market development activities with business, working on sector informed challenges, facilitating technology transfer and knowledge exchange among participants
- be focused on market creation activities that build on the needs and capabilities of a defined location in the UK, the policy and standards requirements, and the investment criteria of private investors
- be transdisciplinary in nature, collaborating across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries, taking a solutions-focused approach to the opportunity
- support companies and small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) developing new products, services and business models based on fundamental research and development activities to enable translation through to higher technology readiness levels (TRLs), including the creation of prototypes and operational demonstrators
- increase the level of industrial and commercial investment in research and development (R&D) activities with existing UK based companies, attract foreign direct investments in corporate R&D laboratories and leverage funding from alternative sources
- partner with local and national governments to anchor private investment in locations across the UK
Anticipated outcomes and impacts
Through investment in these centres the anticipated outcomes and impacts of the programme could include:
- the market starts to emerge related to centre activities
- utilising and clustering of capabilities in the target location(s)
- large company leadership, as well as active SMEs
- local integration and skills development
- new, clean products, services and business models
- attracting foreign direct investment in corporate R&D labs in the selected location(s)
- clean green private investment into the emerging market
- job creation and retention within the emerging market
- the emerging market starting to contribute to local, regional and national prosperity
- UK strategic advantage in the emerging market
To ensure that research outcomes can be fully exploited by industry, we expect to see clear evidence of genuine, substantive partnerships, including co-creation and co-delivery with business in the development of new products, services, and business models.
It is anticipated that leveraged funding (including in-kind) of at least 25% to every £1 of UKRI funding at full application stage will be required. For example, if UKRI is paying the maximum £4,500,000 award, this should equate to £1,125,000 of cash and in-kind co-investment.
You should demonstrate a plan to reach at least 100% match funding over the lifetime of the grant, along with plans for future self-sufficiency of the centre. Other UKRI funding will not be considered as leveraged investment. Centres will be expected to clearly demonstrate auditable co-investments during the lifetime of the grant. More information can be found in ‘How to apply’.
We seek to foster greater collaboration and networking between researchers, business, investors and civic bodies to deliver research and skills outcomes vital to the long-term prosperity of communities and regions of the UK.
We expect activities to be anchored in geographies across the UK, both in the short term and to embed private investment for long term growth. You should choose a location to anchor activities that provides the best chance of success to facilitate the growth of a new market opportunity.
These regional activities may include but are not restricted to:
- local and regional skills development, job creation or retention
- critical mass activities leading to increased private investment, including foreign direct investment, in specific geographies
- contributions to cluster development, for example through knowledge diffusion, supply chain development, SME growth, generation, or growth of spin outs
You will be assessed on your potential to contribute to local and national development; balancing the capabilities, needs and opportunities the location presents.
We welcome strategic, bold, innovative applications addressing pressing challenges in any emergent UK green market. The examples below are challenges that could be addressed and are intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.
Net zero buildings retrofit for improved welfare
Using whole systems approaches to reduce heating demand and improve performance of our built environment, protecting vulnerable people and ensuring resilience of the power grid. Through place-based clustering of activities it is envisaged that utilisation of appropriate solutions will be tailored to local needs, resources and expertise.
We would expect to see energy companies, local authorities, owners and developers of building portfolios, the construction supply chain, health and social care providers and third sector organisations working together to develop solutions. With solutions bringing together net zero technologies, business models and the finance to target help for the vulnerable and reduce fuel poverty, significantly reducing pressure on local health and social care services by accelerating the adoption of accessible and affordable innovations for fabric, heating and provision of energy services.
Local hydrogen development and rollout
Discovering and adopting solutions to exploit the opportunities offered by hydrogen in local economies including local production, distribution and use cases that meet the specific needs of different users.
Partners are likely to include businesses with an active involvement or interest in the hydrogen supply chain and end users of hydrogen and civic bodies including local authorities, councils, or combined authorities, devolved administrations and their agencies, regional and local industrial bodies. With outcomes exploiting the development of a hydrogen value chain(s) to reduce commercial and technical risk and accelerate the journey to end use.
Designing and manufacturing net zero products
Transforming products to be net zero by design through innovative design solutions that secure a reduced carbon footprint and increase energy and resource efficiency throughout product lifecycles.
Key stakeholders could include companies of different sizes across sectors and supply chains, as well as relevant industry bodies and research and technology organisations and critically the procurers of manufactured products and civic stakeholders.
With a focus on net zero products that are designed and manufactured using design and manufacturing capabilities that draw on the specialisations and heritage of the region.
A typical centre should comprise, but is not limited to:
- a virtual or physical centre based around a single organisation or multi-organisation with an identified lead organisation eligible for UKRI funding
- a governance structure that reflects the partnership required to drive the translation of fundamental research through to development and deployment of emerging green solutions by attracting private investment
- a centre director with a proven track record of managing large investments, excellence within their area of expertise and strong links to UK based businesses and investors and relevant public and civic organisations
- a broader leadership team representing the disciplinary expertise and stakeholder groups required to successfully address the challenge articulated
- secondments from other organisations, public or commercial, to further the centre’s mission
- a management and administrative team, that should include a centre manager and industrial engagement manager, as well as other relevant non-academic staff, to ensure effective running of the centre and coordination with external partners
- non-academic staff, which could include coordinators, business development officers, research technical professionals, project managers, industrial liaisons, commercialisation experts, technology transfer officers, technicians
- research and innovation associates working on projects within the centre
- a core team for the development of prototypes and demonstrators
Governance and monitoring
The host organisation of each centre will be expected to set up appropriate governance arrangements to facilitate successful programme delivery. Furthermore, it is expected that a centre advisory board will be set up to inform the strategy to grow stakeholder engagement, including ongoing development of an effective user engagement strategy.
It is expected that the advisory board should meet at least biannually and include key academics, businesses and investors, relevant policy officials and other stakeholders. A UKRI representative will sit on this advisory board, who will be appointed by UKRI. Membership will include representatives from across the centre’s stakeholders and the UKRI representative. Equality, diversity and inclusion should be considered when setting up the governance structure of the centre.
Monitoring, evaluation and learning will be a key component of the programme, and we will arrange occasions for the centres to share best practice, common challenges and learnings. There will be mid-term review to decide if outputs and outcomes are being achieved and if funding should continue.
Grant holders will be required to report on the progress of the centres to UKRI annually through ResearchFish in line with standard UKRI grant terms and conditions. This programme will report into the UKRI Building a Green Future (BaGF) Programme board. Additional programme level reporting may be required as part of the programme delivery phase, including a mid-term review.
For more information on the background of this funding opportunity, go to the ‘Additional information’ section.
The duration of this award is 48 months.
Centres must start by 1 July 2024.
Up to £25 million will be available to support the creation of up to five centres.
The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £5,400,000 resulting in 80% FEC at £4,500,000. UKRI will pay a maximum of up to £4,500,000 million for your project costs.
We will fund 80% FEC with the following exceptions:
- justified equipment would be funded at 50%
- direct costs for third sector and civil organisations engagement will be funded at 100%
Entitlement to the outputs of a project or intellectual property will need to be determined between the parties involved, however any access to project outputs or intellectual property must be in line with any relevant Subsidy Control regulation. Under UKRI terms and conditions for research grants you must ensure at all times that the grant funding awarded to you is compliant with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Any entitlements will need to be set out in a formal collaboration agreement if a grant is awarded, as per FEC grant condition RGC 12.1.
You do not need to submit collaboration agreements as part of your full stage application.
What we will fund
Resources may be used for activities that initiate, grow, and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government and third sector) to meet the aims of the programme, the list below is indicative and not exhaustive:
- UKRI facilities costs
- non-academic staff, for example business development officers, project managers, industrial liaisons, coordinators, administrators, technology transfer officers and technicians. They must be undertaking tasks that are specific to the project that are over and above what would be normally expected to be supplied as the general enabling activity that is usually funded from the estates and indirect costs awarded to the project
- civic bodies including enterprise, development, or skills bodies, local authorities and other local stakeholders to support dialogue between stakeholders
- staff exchanges
- staff payroll
- other standard expenses
What we will not fund
The following costs are not eligible for this funding opportunity:
- PhD studentships
- ship-time costs
- flexible fund pots
Services and facilities
You can apply to use a UKRI facility or resource in your funding application.
You should discuss your application with the facility or service at least two months before the funding opportunity’s full application closing date to:
- discuss the proposed work in detail
- receive confirmation that they can provide the services required within the timeframe of the funding
Some facilities may require you to provide a technical assessment that includes the calculated cost of providing the service. Some services and facilities must be costed within the limits of the funding, the facility will advise you on this.
You should not submit the technical assessment with the application, but you must confirm you have received it. Extension to grants will not be given due to unavailability of facilities intrinsic to the project. You should make sure that the facility will be able to provide access or services during the period of your grant.
Links to available facilities and resources by council:
High performance computing (HPC), and the large research facilities at Harwell have their own policies for access and costing.
Although this funding opportunity is not designed for significant capital expenditure, it is recognised there may be setup costs, particularly during the initial years. Applicants should clearly distinguish between the set up and running costs of the Centre, and the funding that will be used for market development activities. The following costs are allowable within the budget:
- between £10,000 and £138,000 (£115,000 excluding VAT) for individual items of equipment (noting these must be listed with additional information including evidence of an evaluation of the use of existing capital assets)
- more than £138,000 (£115,000 excluding VAT) for individual items of equipment must be fully justified in the justification of resources section
Equipment thresholds only apply to individual assets rather than an accumulation value, except where they will be used as a combined asset.
Supporting skills and talent
We encourage you to follow the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the Technician Commitment.
If your application includes international applicants, project partners or collaborators, visit UKRI’s trusted research and innovation for more information on effective international collaboration.
UKRI expects you to make your research data openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner. The UKRI expectations for sharing and managing research data arising from your project are outlined on Making your research data open including:
- you should determine if, how and where your data should be shared based on good practice for the type(s) of research data that will be generated
- refer to the research council research data sharing policy(s) and guidance most applicable to the type(s) of research data that will be generated from your research. These policies include best practice and preferred repositories for some types of data, for example the ESRC-supported UK Data Service and the NERC-supported Environmental Data Service
- our guidance on best practice in the management of research data, also provides general guidance about sharing and managing your research data in line with our common principles
- UKRI’s Good Research Resource Hub includes some external resources that you may also find helpful when deciding how to share and manage your research data
Ensure you include costs in your funding application.
UKRI supports costs associated with research data management and sharing. You should ensure costs for these activities are included in your funding application, including if you intend to use NERC’s Environmental Data Service or the ESRC-supported UK Data Service. If you are considering using the Environmental Data Service, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Some additional information on research data costs is provided in the guidance on best practice in the management of research data. Guidance on costs may also be provided with the funding opportunity in Funding Finder.
We are fully committed to develop and promote responsible research and innovation that makes a positive contribution to society and the environment. Not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research and innovation is conducted and facilities are managed.
Research and innovation has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.
We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research and innovation we fund and encourage our community to do likewise.
All centres will be expected to adhere to UKRI responsible innovation policies and guidance.
UKRI’s environmental sustainability strategy lays out our ambition to actively lead environmental sustainability across our sectors. This includes a vision to ensure that all major investment and funding decisions we make are directly informed by environmental sustainability, recognising environmental benefits as well as potential for environmental harm.
Environmental sustainability is a broad term but may include consideration of such broad areas as:
- reducing carbon emissions
- protecting and enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity
- waste or pollution elimination
- resource efficiency and a circular economy
We expect you to embed careful consideration of environmental sustainability at all stages of the research and innovation process and throughout the lifetime of the accelerating the green economy centres.
Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
As focal points in the community, the accelerating the green economy centres will be expected to champion and embed EDI in all their activities throughout the lifetime of the investment.
If funded, centres will be expected to develop a clear and feasible strategy to ensure EDI throughout the delivery of the centre activities, including knowledge exchange and engagement with the research projects and other related initiatives.
You should request the appropriate resources to develop and deliver the centre EDI strategy effectively. The Centre will identify at least one person who has responsibility for leading on EDI within the Centre to reflect the importance of EDI in the Accelerating the Green Economy centres.
Research disruption due to COVID-19
We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:
- breaks and delays
- disruptive working patterns and conditions
- the loss of ongoing work
- role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic
Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant, and their wider team, to deliver the research they are proposing.
Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.