The UK is sailing ahead in the race to address the ocean plastics crisis

Innovative businesses creating green alternatives to plastic bottles, cosmetic beads and synthetic materials are being backed by new funding from the government and Sky. Simon Edmonds reports on these and on new funding opportunities for UK manufacturers.

Ten projects have been given a funding boost from the government and Sky Ocean Ventures – the satellite broadcaster’s impact investment fund – to find fast and future-proof solutions to the ocean plastics crisis.

Ocean Plastics Marine Plastic Waste Beach Rubbish Sustainable stock - image courtesy of Pixabay.

Image courtesy of Pixaby


Bath-based company Naturbeads is developing a biodegradable alternative to microscopic plastic beads found in cosmetics including exfoliators and toothpastes.

Their work with the University of Bath will tackle the 30,000 tonnes of micro plastics from consumer products that end up in our oceans and are ingested by sea creatures.

London company Petit-Pli have created expanding clothes that grow with the wearer, inspired by satellite folding structures and origami. They hope to diversify from children’s’ clothes to maternity wear using the cash boost.

Successful projects to help reduce waste and pollution also include:

  • flexible cardboard packaging for surfboards and bottles, created by Cornwall-based surfers Flexi Hex after noticing plastic waste on their local beaches
  • a carbon neutral water bottle, made from 100% natural materials, that can biodegrade completely in a matter of months, from Edinburgh-based Choose Water
  • West-Yorkshire based textile innovators HD Wool, who are replacing synthetic fleeces with the next generation of sustainable wool products

Innovate UK – our team and how we can help you

The Manufacturing, Materials and Mobility sector team at Innovate UK are a group of experts working together in the areas of: Manufacturing and Materials; High Value Manufacturing; Advanced Materials; Land Transport; Automotive; Connected Transport; Connected & Autonomous Vehicles; Rail; Aerospace; Electronics; Sensors, and Photonics.

Our vision is for the UK to be among the very best places in the world for businesses to innovate and grow in order to maximise the economic and societal benefits of innovation over the long term.

Here’s a chance to meet the team as they introduce themselves.

This article first appeared in the October issue of The Manufacturer magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Latest funding opportunities – round-up

There are some significant funding opportunities for businesses currently open through Innovate UK.

Below is a summary of these funding competitions that may be of interest to manufacturers, listed in order of when the competitions close:

The latest round of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is now open with £20m available for UK-developed late stage R&D, to support growth in advanced low carbon propulsion capability in the automotive sector.

The closing date is Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 12:00pm – click here for more information.


There is an opportunity to apply for a share of up to £25m to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations that can make a significant impact on the UK economy.

Applications for Innovate UK Smart Grants can come from any area of technology including arts, design, media or creative industries, science or engineering and be applied to any part of the economy.

The competition closes on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 12:00pm – click here for more information.


UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £10m for collaborative R&D projects that improve productivity, quality and performance in UK construction.

This funding is from the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the Construction Sector Deal.

The competition closes on Wednesday 30 October 2019 12:00pm – Click here for more information


In addition, through this same fund, we are investing up to £26m from the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to demonstrate solutions to improve productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector.

This closing date is Wednesday 6 November – click here for more information.

Innovate UK

Simon Edmonds, director - manufacturing, materials & future of mobility, Innovate UK.

For more information on any of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities, please contact the customer support service:

Feedback! All feedback gratefully received. I can be found on Twitter: @SJSEdmonds