Funding for a better future

Partner Content

KTN's Ben Peace looks at upcoming opportunities that could help make your business more sustainable, resilient and competitive.

There’s never been a better time to think about the future. We’ve all been through a period of great change and there’s a sense that there’s more to come. Never have we seen so many headlines about climate change, and resource shortages such as gas and petrol. Appetite for a new, greener economy is there from government, industry, and consumers alike.

This shift might look different to every business. How will you make what you make better, more efficiently? How will you deal with resource price fluctuations? How will you compete in a new greener, ever more global economy? How can what you make deliver more value to customers, to society? How can the valuable materials be recovered and reused, and in so doing create more revenues for your business? What products might you make in the future? Maybe some featured in the government’s “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” published earlier this year?

The government and its agencies recognise that industry needs funding, support and the right connections in order to change with the time, to plan for the longer term. I’m privileged here at KTN to be working to support businesses big and small, across sectors, that are making the change.


sustainability-gb93a03070_1920. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


One key tool we help provide access to is funding and in my time here at KTN there has never been so much that is targeted at manufacturers. Two particular strands I’m currently involved with helping to scope are detailed below. Interested businesses will need to develop a project proposal for Innovate UK and funds are awarded to the best projects to cover a proportion of the project costs and thereby de-risk your innovation:

Circular Economy for SMEs – innovating with the NICER programme

This is a relatively small competition (a £1m pot funding approximately 20 projects). Projects must demonstrate how you will create a step-change in the adoption of circular economy approaches such as repair, reuse, remanufacture, recycling and regeneration. The competition also provides an opportunity to work with 5 national interdisciplinary circular economy research centres. We are running the briefing event on 18 October, and the closing date is 8 December.

Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory

This is a much larger competition (£20m) which will help manufacturers big and small, across sectors, to investigate how digital technologies can help identify and deliver resource and energy savings within the factory. We are running an event exploring the topic on 19 October, a full briefing event on 9 November and some in-person networking in our Made Smarter Theatre at the Smart Factory Expo. This competition closes late January 2022.

There are also dedicated competitions out now or coming shortly on:

  • Industrial Energy Transformation Fund – designed to help energy-intensive industries and businesses with high energy use to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions. Supports the commercial rollout and permanent installation of technologies at industrial sites, rather than general research, development and testing of a technology solution. A £60m pot closing 6 December, for the following project types:
    • studies – feasibility and engineering studies to enable companies to investigate identified energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects prior to making an investment decision
    • energy efficiency – deployment of technologies to reduce industrial energy consumption
    • deep decarbonisation – deployment of technologies to achieve industrial emissions savings.
  • Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator – open to all UK industry sectors that can demonstrate either a novel technology, or the use of an established technology in a novel way, to result in a reduction in carbon emissions, through decreases in energy consumption and/or improvements in resource efficiency. £8m of funding in total. Grant funding of £150,000 to £1 million will typically be available for each successful project. Closes January 2022.
  • Transforming Foundation Industries Demonstrators – supporting large projects (up to 2-years and greater than £5m in size) for the foundation industries (metals, ceramics, glass, chemicals, paper and cement). Focused on the demonstration of the future technology required to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK foundation industries, piloted at active foundation industry sites, de-risking future deployment for all foundation industries. Briefing & capability event on 12 October.

KTN is running the briefing events for most of these, and can help you:

  • understand which competition is right for your business
  • understand the process for applying
  • find the kind of partners that will make your project compelling (eg. the right expertise, providers of the right solutions)

Take a look at our website (ktn-uk.org) for more information. And come along to Smart Factory Expo where KTN staff will be on hand to help you exploit these opportunities. (Please note that some of these competitions are still in the planning stages and details may change before launch.)

It’s the businesses that think about the future that will be shaping it. Make the most of this unprecedented number of opportunities, and help create a better, more prosperous future.


About the author

Ben Peace-KTN. Image courtesy of KTN.Ben Peace is Knowledge Transfer Manager – Sustainable Manufacturing at KTN

KTN’s manufacturing support has a mission to help industry make things better and make better things. We help the UK manufacturing sector to grow more productive, resilient and successful thanks to the connections we make – to the great ideas, creativity and research that our country is famous for.

KTN also has a strategic role building new communities that tackle challenges and opportunities, and shaping and providing access to funding.

Ben has a background in product design and engineering. After ten years in industry (fuel cells, solar panels, zero emission vehicles etc.) and consultancy, Ben joined the Environmental Sustainability KTN back in 2011. Particular interests include circular economy, remanufacturing, Industry 4.0, design, business model innovation, and tools.