Funding competition SBRI: smart waste tracking data collection, storage and reporting services

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £400,000. Up to £80,000 is available per organisation to develop a new digital solution to help track waste from source through treatment to end destination.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


UK householders and businesses generate around 200 million tonnes of waste each year. Nationally and globally, waste presents a real challenge.

The current situation is of a fragmented set of policies, regulation and processes, and IT systems across the UK. Businesses deal with multiple duplicated processes and regulatory requirements, generating millions of pieces of paper or electronic records, yet still there are significant data gaps.

The government is developing an updated strategy on resources which will be published in 2018. This will set out details of how we will meet the ambitions for resources and waste in the Clean Growth Strategy, Industrial Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Defra’s challenge is to use digital technology to record and track individual movements of waste through the economy. We aim to know more about the types and amounts of waste generated, what is done to it, and where it ends up. An innovative solution could help maximise the value we extract from our resources and boost innovation and productivity whilst minimising damage to the environment. This includes tackling waste crime, which has estimated costs to England of £604 million in 2015.

This is phase 1 of a 2-phase competition. During phase 2, additional funding may be released of up to £1 million to continue development and test a prototype.

Funding type


Project size

We expect to fund up to 5 projects for up to 3 months. Projects should range in size up to total costs of £80,000, including VAT, per organisation under phase 1, and be expected to start by 31 October 2018.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project, you must:

  • be an organisation, of any size
  • work alone or with others (businesses, research base or third sector)

Solutions must be compatible and align with data standards being developed and used by other data storage platforms developed by Defra or the Environment Agency. They should also align to the Government Digital Service standards.

Funding and project details

The overall programme will be delivered over 2 phases.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to take part in phase 2.

Phase 1: feasibility study resulting in a technical and commercial specification and detailed design package for a digital solution

The first phase involves research and development contracts being awarded to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution. A total of up to £400,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 1 of the competition.

It is anticipated that the feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts will be in the region of up to £80,000, including VAT, per contract. This is for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 5 projects. The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

We would welcome bids that bring together a consortium of sector specialists.

Phase 2: research and development contracts, prototype development and testing resulting in prototype installation to test functionality

The second phase involves up to 2 R&D contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Further funding of up to £1 million, including VAT, will be allocated to phase 2. This is to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for up to 12 months.

Your proposal

Defra’s challenge is to use innovative technology to record and track individual movements of waste through the economy. This is from the point of generation or collection, through multiple intermediate treatment, including bulking and sorting, through to its final destination, such as disposal to landfill, incineration or recycling, or export for treatment.

For each type of waste, we want to know:

  • the point of generation or collection
  • who is handling the waste
  • how and where it is treated
  • the outputs from these processes and where these end up

We want to be able to track waste from particular sources such as household versus commercial and industrial or construction waste, and particular waste streams like plastic or food waste.

Challenges and requirements:

  • there are an estimated 23 million waste transactions in the UK, over 100,000 regulated sites and over 100,000 waste carriers
  • increasingly complex waste treatment processes, where waste from different sources may be combined at intermediate treatment and even change through treatment
  • your solution needs to extract data directly from any existing systems where used but could also provide this functionality for businesses that do not have their own system
  • possibility of real-time information
  • robust and comprehensive data analytics capable of storing and collating a large number of individual data records into meaningful, relevant and flexible reporting functionality that meets regulatory obligations, intelligence led investigations, business intelligence and other ad-hoc data analyses

Your application must have at least 50% of its contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services. R&D can cover solution exploration and design. It can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Specific themes

The solution you propose must:

  • be scalable
  • be secure
  • be flexible
  • be resilient
  • be sustainable from a technology perspective
  • avoid additional reporting burdens on industry, so solutions need to be compatible and synchronous with existing systems used by industry and government or they can offer new opportunities to replace existing systems entirely
  • align with core data standards in use by other data platforms being developed by Defra or the Environment Agency (details can be provided)
  • be cost effective to develop, maintain and develop, with a business model that does not need ongoing or never-ending government investment
  • consider scope for real-time data recording
  • have scope for in-built data validation to improve data accuracy
  • present re-use opportunities
11 June 2018
Competition opens
29 June 2018
Applicant briefing event.
18 July 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
25 July 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
30 September 2018
Applicants notified
31 October 2018
Phase 1 contracts awarded.
31 October 2018
Feedback provided.

Before you start

To apply:

  • the lead applicant must register online using the green button above. Please note that you must complete a separate registration for each proposal submitted
  • read the invitation to tender which will be available for you to download from our secure site after registration
  • consider attending the briefing event for potential applicants
  • complete and upload your online application for phase 1. You must complete a separate form for each innovation proposed

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality of your application. We will then choose the best proposals from those that meet the aims of this competition.

Guidance for applicants

Please view the guidance and application questions for this competition.

Background and further information

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

Further help and information

You can find information on how to enter this competition in the invitation to tender document, which is available for download on our secure site after registration.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

Questions on the scope of this competition should be addressed to

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