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ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries: Demonstrators EoI


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £14million for demonstrations of innovative technology for UK foundation industries. Innovate UK have allocated £180,000 for this expression of interest (EoI) stage.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £14million from the Transforming Foundation Industries Programme to support projects that demonstrate innovation at an industrial scale.

The aim of the competition is to fund research and development projects that demonstrate future technologies, capable of addressing the resource or energy efficiency challenges of the UK’s Foundation Industries. These will be cross-sector, collaborative, demonstration projects. Your proposal must include significant industry investment.

This is stage 1 of a two-stage competition:

  • ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries: Demonstrators Expression of interest (EoI) (this stage)
  • ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries: Demonstrators – Full stage: This will be by invitation only to applicants who are successful in the EoI stage.

Your EoI proposal must support a future demonstration of an innovation at an industrially relevant scale, which will develop either:

  • Pipeline technologies to reduce deployment risk and accelerate take-up across industries, largely by reducing payback time
  • New technologies that, when deployed, would create a step-change in energy and resource efficiency

Successful applicants can claim grant funding of £15,000 at this EoI stage.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Your EoI application must outline your intentions for a full stage project including:

  • The project idea or technology being demonstrated
  • The market for this demonstration
  • The anticipated project consortium, which must contain a minimum of two foundation industries partners
  • How the project will meet the minimum project size of £5m and include significant industry investment

The aim of the full stage competition will be to fund demonstrations of future technologies capable of addressing the resource or energy efficiency challenges of UK Foundation Industries.

For the full stage competition, your project will need to:

  • Be collaborative and cross-sector, including a minimum of two foundation industries (cement, glass, ceramics, paper, metals and chemicals)
  • Demonstrate future technologies at an industrially relevant scale
  • Include significant industry investment
  • Improve the sustainability of the foundation industries
  • Align to the Transforming foundation industries challenge aims

Innovate UK aim to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of:

  • Industries
  • Technologies
  • Markets

This competition is funded by the ISCF Transforming Foundation Industries (TFI) Challenge. The Challenge Director reserves the right to make the final decision on whether a project is successful at the EoI stage and is invited to apply for the full stage competition.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one of the following themes:

  1. Energy efficiency: process improvements to increase energy efficiency including innovative heat recovery trials, alternative feedstocks, and new products
  2. Resource efficiency: including industrial symbiosis, waste utilisation, new products and alternative and biobased feedstocks
  3. Sensors, controls and digitalisation: with a focus on increased efficiency, productivity to increase energy, or resource efficiency)
  4. Other energy or resource efficiency improvements: including new products, processes, new services or business models

Research categories

If invited to the full stage competition, your project must be an experimental development project, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

You can include some aspects of industrial research, but you will need to clearly describe where the project crosses over from one research category to the next.

You will need to indicate which research category each work package falls under.

If you choose to claim funding, your project must:

  • Have project costs and claim grant funding of £15,000
  • Start on 1 February 2022
  • End by 31 March 2022
  • Last between one to two months
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You can choose not to claim any grant funding for your costs which will not affect your assessment or invitation to the full stage.

If you are not claiming any funding, your EoI application must be submitted with a zero grant request.

You must complete your application with:

  • A start date of 1 February 2022
  • An end date of 31 March 2022

To lead a project, your organisation must be a UK-registered business of any size, or research and technology organisation (RTO)

Academic institutions cannot lead a project.

The lead organisation for this EoI stage, does not have to lead the next full stage application. If your project is invited, another eligible member of the proposed consortium can lead.

Number of applications

business, or RTO can lead up to two EoI applications, but can only lead on one full stage application.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

Special Drawing Rights (and De minimis where applicable)

The UK-EU Trade Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has agreed on small funding allowances under the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

These are for awards up to SDR of 325,000 (approximately £335,000) given to a single beneficiary over a rolling three fiscal year period.

You must complete and provide Innovate UK with a declaration as part of your response.

The declaration asks you to tell us about any awards made under De minimis and SDR, (from any source of public funding) over a rolling three fiscal year period. If you have received an award under De minimis for the same period, this will be added to your total allowance under SDR. This means that the total award must not exceed approximately £335,000 (325,000 SDR) for any one organisation. You must declare this allowance to any other funding body who requests it.

EU Commission rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see the general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further information

Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance. Or you can see the general guidance on Special Drawing Rights and EU de minimis awards.

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the De minimis rules, you should take independent legal advice. Innovate UK cannot advise on individual eligibility or your legal obligations.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, they will tell you as soon as possible.

Innovate UK has allocated £180,000 to this Expression of Interest (EoI) stage of the competition to fund data gathering projects, that will support a full stage application. Innovate UK expect to take up to 12 projects to full stage.

You can apply for £15,000 grant at this EoI stage to complete background data gathering and relationship building necessary to create an application for the full stage competition.

If your application is not requesting funding, you must still complete the EoI stage application with the information requested.

Up to £13.6million has been allocated to fund projects at the Full Stage of the competition.

For your full stage project, your total eligible project costs must be more than £5million. There is no upper limit to your full stage total eligible project costs.

You must be eligible to claim grant funding of between £2.5 to £3.5million against your total eligible project costs.

The total grant for the full stage project must be less than 50% of your total eligible project costs.

At the full stage, Innovate UK may consider the purchase of capital equipment as an eligible project cost in large-scale commercial demonstration projects.

This capital purchase would be allowed only if they enable more energy efficient processing or more efficient recycling or re-use activities. You should get in touch with the Challenge team for clarity on the eligibility of your proposed capital costs.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under European Commission De minimis.

If you are applying for an award funded under European Commission Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Innovate UK are not funding projects for this EoI stage that:

  • Focus on fuel switching or greenhouse gas capture technology
  • Do not focus on foundation industries and their immediate supply chains
  • Respond only to the skills needs of foundation industries
  • Are capital or infrastructure projects
  • Involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • Involve primary production in agriculture
  • Are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • Are not allowed under Special Drawing Rights (SDR)
  • Have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • Are dependent on export performance – for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • Are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.