Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: Accelerating the Green Economy Centres

Apply for funding to establish an Accelerating the Green Economy Centre to support the growth of emerging green industries, in economic geographies across the UK.

Collaboration and co-creation between researchers, businesses and local stakeholders is essential.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £5 million.

Awards will start 1 July 2024 and last for four years.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

The funding opportunity will open in September 2023. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity contributes to addressing the UKRI Building a Green Future strategic theme and is being administered by NERC on behalf of UKRI.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service. For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Standard UKRI eligibility criteria apply. Applications should be led by researchers based at eligible UK-based organisations in accordance with standard UKRI practice. For this funding opportunity this includes:

  • higher education providers
  • eligible research institutes
  • NHS bodies
  • approved public sector research establishments (PSREs)
  • approved independent research organisations (IROs)
  • research technology organisations (including the Catapults)

Before applying for funding, check the following:

This funding opportunity is open to research consortia and should involve collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders. We require multidisciplinary research and innovative collaborations that involve co-design and co-creation with businesses and other stakeholders.

We expect the centres to incorporate the full breadth of stakeholders required to enable the translation of research into innovation and commercialisation. These stakeholders could include civic bodies, local government, mayoral offices, investors, innovators, customers, regulators, standards bodies, insurers, for example.

We welcome applications from individuals at any career stage, subject to UKRI eligibility criteria.

Who is not eligible to apply

  • you may be involved in no more than two applications submitted to this funding opportunity. Only one of these can be as project lead
  • each organisation may lead on a maximum of two applications. However, organisations may be a partner in multiple applications
  • international co-investigators are not permitted as part of this funding opportunity, international collaborators can be listed as project partners
  • businesses are not eligible applicant organisations as part of this funding opportunity, they are expected to be listed as project partners

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for


The Accelerating the Green Economy Centres programme will fund innovative Centres that underpin emerging green markets in the UK. The Centres will bring together research clusters with business, local stakeholders and partners to co-develop and co-deliver research focused on market informed grand challenges to accelerate the exploitation and commercialisation of green solutions in a way that brings benefits to geographies across the UK.

The Centres should aim to drive the translation of fundamental research through to development and deployment of emerging green solutions by attracting private investment, creating business opportunities and driving economic activity. The Centres should be based in the most appropriate location in the UK for the challenge identified. Centres should demonstrate how they will establish and maintain world leading research, translation, and commercialisation activities, to grow and strengthen the flow of private capital investment, thereby accelerating the local and national green economy.


We are seeking to fund up to five pioneering, collaborative, challenge-led, co-designed Accelerating the Green Economy Centres to support the creation of green solutions to market-informed grand challenges. 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. We expect the leadership and governance of the Centre to reflect the partnership required to develop and deliver solutions to the challenge being addressed in the target location.

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 (SME) 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

To ensure that research outcomes can be fully exploited by industry, UKRI expects 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 application stage will be required. You should demonstrate a plan to reach 100% match funding over the lifetime of the grant, along with plans for future self-sufficiency of the centre.

Regional growth

UKRI seeks to foster greater collaboration and networking between researchers, business 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 provide 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

Applications will be assessed on their potential to contribute to local and national development; balancing the capabilities, needs and opportunities the location presents.

Challenge areas

We welcome nationally 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 that deliver deep improvements to building performance; using appropriate solutions 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 chains 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.


The duration of this award is 48 months.

Centres have a fixed start date and must start by 1 July 2024.

Funding available

Up to £25 million will be available to support the creation of up to five centres.

The FEC of your project can be up to £5 million.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

Full details on how to apply will be published when the funding opportunity opens.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

Watch our recording on how to apply for an opportunity in the Funding Service.

Personal data

UKRI will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using a two-stage application process.

Stage one: outline application

Outline applications will be considered by a mixed panel consisting of external experts from a diverse range of backgrounds including academia, business, local government, third-sector, civic bodies to represent the ambitions of the programme.

Stage two: invited full application and expert interview panel

Stage two of this funding opportunity will be run on the UKRI Funding Service.

If you are successful at the outline application stage, you will be invited to submit a full application. Full applications will be assessed by an expert interview panel. It is expected that up to 12 applications will be shortlisted to submit a full application. However, UKRI reserves the right to modify this approach should circumstances change.

We expect interviews to be held in early May 2024.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Full details of assessment questions and criteria will be published when the funding opportunity opens.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help on costings and writing your application, contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity


Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the UKRI Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: Accelerating the Green Economy Centres; sensitive information; your UKRI Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the Applicant and team capability section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info


This funding opportunity forms part of UKRI’s Building a Green Future strategic theme as described in the UKRI Strategy 2022 to 2027: Transforming tomorrow together. The Building a Green Future strategic theme aims to accelerate the green economy by supporting research and innovation that unlocks solutions essential to achieving net zero in the UK by 2050.

Further funding opportunity

Once the Accelerating the Green Economy Centres are established, an open-funding opportunity of up to £10 million will be launched for targeted research and innovation grants to align with the funded Accelerating the Green Economy Centres.

Webinar for potential applicants

We will hold a webinar once the funding opportunity is launched. This will provide more information about the funding opportunity and a chance to ask questions. Further details will be published when the funding opportunity opens.

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