Funding competition Canada-UK Critical Minerals: Sustainability and Circularity

UK registered organisations and Canadian SMEs can apply for a share of up to £5.4 million for joint R&D projects focused on driving circularity in critical minerals.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to invest in innovation projects.

Up to £3.5 million from Innovate UK and up to CA$3 million from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), an equivalent of approximately £5.4 million in total, has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition.

The aim of this competition is to support collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships, to assist the development and commercialisation of circular solutions for critical minerals.

Your proposal must demonstrate co-development, have a high innovation potential and address a technological challenge. It must include a plan for future exploitation leading to full commercialisation, and it must ensure all necessary environmental, social and governance (ESG) and regulatory challenges are addressed.

In applying for this public funding, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition closes at 5pm UK time (which is 9am PDT and 12 noon EDT) on 3 April 2024 in this Innovate UK competition brief. We cannot guarantee other government or third party sites will always show the correct competition information.

Funding type


Project size

The total grant funding request for all UK partners can be up to £400,000 for each application. NRC IRAP will provide a contribution of up to CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of no more than £400,000 allocated to UK organisations
  • have a grant funding request of no more than CA $500,000 allocated to each eligible Canadian SME
  • start by 1 September 2024
  • end by 31 August 2026
  • last between 12 and 24 months

Projects should have a balanced contribution of the total eligible project costs among the partners from the UK and Canada.

No one country or project partner can represent more than 70% of the total project cost.

The majority of the project work must be undertaken in the UK and Canada.

Your proposal must demonstrate a clear intention to commercially exploit the results of the project domestically or globally.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

If your project’s total grant funding request or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

Roles and terminology

There must be a “project lead” and this can be either an eligible UK or Canadian organisation. The project lead is responsible for managing the entire project.

The “lead applicant” is the organisation that starts the application on the Innovation Funding Service. This must be a UK organisation.

Canada specific rules

Canadian funding applicants are required to register and submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) to the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

The registration deadline for Canadian SMEs applying to the EoI is 15 December 2023.

Canadian funding applicants who do not complete an EoI and have not been invited to proceed will not be eligible for funding through this competition.

Canadian SMEs may only participate in one application either as a project lead or partner. A UK organisation must be listed as the lead applicant on the Innovation Funding Service. If a Canadian organisation is leading the project this should be identified within your application.

Please see the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) call page for more information in English and French on Canadian eligibility requirements and to register.

UK lead applicant

To start an application on the Innovation Funding Service (IFS), your organisation must be a UK registered business of any size.

Your collaboration must involve at least one grant claiming UK registered SME and one eligible Canadian incorporated, profit orientated SME.

Canadian organisations can be a project lead but cannot start an application on IFS. They must be added as a partner to the UK lead applicant. This is for system functionality reasons.

More information on the different types of UK organisations can be found in our Funding rules.

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead applicant, you must be one of the following:

  • UK registered business of any size
  • UK registered academic institution
  • UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • a Canadian incorporated, profit orientated small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
  • National Research Council of Canada (NRC) researcher
  • Canadian university
  • Canadian research technology organization (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the UK lead applicant to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account. UK registered organisations must enter their own project costs into the IFS. Canadian organisations do not enter their costs into IFS.

To be an eligible collaboration, at least one eligible business from the UK must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application and partner with at least one eligible Canadian SME.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Canadian project participants who are not eligible for funding, including large enterprises and industries, are welcome to collaborate as additional participants on a self‑funded basis or as subcontractors.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

For UK organisations, the cost of subcontractors is limited to no more than 20% of your organisation’s total eligible costs.

All subcontractors must be selected through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from the UK and Canada.

If you wish to use subcontractors from other countries you must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the countries providing grant funding for the project.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK or Canadian contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use a subcontractor from a third country.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

A UK business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in one further application.

A UK business that is not leading an application can collaborate on a maximum of two applications.

A Canadian SME may only participate in one application.

UK or Canadian research organisations can collaborate in any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding for UK organisations in line with the Subsidy Control Act 2022. Further information about the Subsidy requirements can be found within the Subsidy Control Act 2022 (

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the Subsidy Control Act 2022 or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must always make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.

This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.


Selected collaborative R&D projects will be eligible to receive funding from their respective national funding body.

Up to £3.5 million from Innovate UK and up to CA$3 million from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), an equivalent of approximately £5.4 million in total, has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

UK Organisations

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance.

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

Research participation for UK Organisations

UK research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution, such as a university
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO.

Canadian SMEs

NRC IRAP will provide a maximum contribution of CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project. Canadian SMEs may receive up to 50% funding of eligible project costs.

Canadian SME applicants must be registered as NRC IRAP clients to be considered for funding through this competition. Please see the NRC IRAP call page for more information in English and French.

Other Canadian Collaborators

See the Canadian call page for more information in English and French on other Canadian collaborators’ eligibility and funding.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to foster and support collaborative research and development (CR&D) in critical minerals through Canadian and UK partnerships.

Your joint Canadian and UK project must focus on innovative technologies that enable the development and commercialisation of circular solutions for critical minerals and their supply chains. The project focus should be on the minerals and not on the end application performance.

Your proposal must focus on one or more of the following five themes:

1. Enhanced Circularity in Critical Minerals - Battery Systems

For example:

  • Improving recovery or efficiency of recovery of critical minerals from battery systems, for example cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese, from black mass
  • Improving recovery or efficiency of recovery of new critical mineral streams from battery waste, for example graphite, silicon, phosphates

2. Enhanced Circularity in Critical Minerals - High Performance Permanent Magnets (HPPM)

For example:

  • Safe and economic identification, collection, sorting, separation, dismantling of rare earth element (REE) containing end-of-life products
  • Novel and sustainable routes for processing of recovered REE materials

3. Sustainable Use of Critical Minerals – Processing & Manufacturing

For example:

  • Novel manufacturing methods and processes across the value chain (from mine to end-product for use in battery systems or high-performance permanent magnet applications) to enhance circularity and sustainability of critical minerals

4. Sustainable Use of Critical Minerals – Reduction in Use

For example:

  • Novel approaches to reduce reliance on existing critical minerals
  • Complete substitution of critical minerals and systems

5. Innovations in Environmental, Societal, Governance (ESG) for Critical Minerals

For example:

  • Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and sustainability models for LCA of critical minerals and systems
  • Measurement and accounting for embedded carbon, radioactivity and other environmental and societal impacts of REE
  • Provenance, for example material passports, digitization or traceability of critical minerals and systems
The examples listed for each theme are not exhaustive.

We particularly encourage projects that:

  • involve consortia which span the supply chain of extraction, refining or processing, manufacturers, integrators and end user businesses
  • seek to progress innovative and scalable technologies from laboratory prototypes to industry ready systems for commercial use

For the purposes of this competition ‘critical minerals’ are defined as either:

  1. Critical minerals identified as either ‘high criticality’ (17 minerals plus the rare earth elements group) or identified in the first ‘watch list’ (5 minerals) in the Resilience for the Future: The United Kingdom’s Critical Minerals Strategy published on 22 July 2022.
  2. Critical minerals identified (29 minerals plus the rare earth elements and platinum group metals group) in Annex A of the Canadian critical minerals strategy published on 09 December 2022.

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across business size, technologies, technology maturities, themes, location and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that are:

  • focused on end application performance, for example, performance of batteries in electric vehicle (EV) cars or performance of HPPM in motors or drives
  • focused on the improvement in properties or performance in final use, for example, improving charge density in batteries or magnetic properties in HPPM
  • focused on minerals or elements that are not listed in either of the UK critical minerals strategy (either high priority or ‘watch’ list) or Canadian Critical Minerals strategy (Annex A list)
  • innovations without a clear focus on improving circularity and sustainability in critical minerals supply chains

We cannot fund projects that are:

  • dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

15 November 2023
1st online matchmaking event
16 November 2023
2nd online matchmaking event
20 November 2023
Competition opens
23 November 2023
Online briefing event: watch the recording
15 December 2023
Canadian EOI registration deadline
12 January 2024
Canadian EOI submission deadline
3 April 2024 5:00pm
Competition closes
31 May 2024
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

If you are a Canadian applicant, you must be successful in your Expression of interest (EoI) application to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to apply for this competition.

Before submitting, it is the UK lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:

  • that all the information provided in the application is correct
  • your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
  • all sections of the application are marked as complete
  • that all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&Cs)

You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.

What we ask you

The application is split into 4 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.
  4. Project Impact.

Accessibility and inclusion

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support, in the form of reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You must contact us as early as possible in the application process. We recommend contacting us at least 15 working days before the competition closing date to ensure we can provide you with the most suitable support possible.

You can contact Innovate UK by emailing or calling +44 (0)300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 12 pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

1. Project details

This section provides background for your application and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on your project and invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. You must state which organisation in the consortium is the project lead. We use this section to assign the right experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 450 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your application will be assessed by independent assessors in both the UK and Canada.

Innovate UK’s assessors will score all your answers apart from questions 1,2 and 3. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess and how we select applications for funding.

You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any partners or subcontractors working on your project.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.

Question 2. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (not scored)

How have you incorporated equality, diversity and inclusion into your project delivery and project outcomes?

Describe details of the challenges or opportunities relating to equality, diversity and inclusion arising from your project and the methods and approaches used to address them:

  • during project delivery
  • for governance
  • for project team and advisory boards
  • for stakeholder and end-user engagement
  • for design thinking

Please note: Questions relating to equality, diversity and inclusion will not form part of the funding decision but will be used to inform the development of EDI activities for the competition cohort.

Question 3. (UK applicants only) Permits and licences (not scored)

Will you have the correct permits and licences in place to carry out your project?

We are unable to fund projects who do not have the correct permits or licences in place by your project start date.

You must select one option:

  • Yes
  • No
  • In process of being applied for
  • Not applicable

Question 4. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge, or market opportunity behind your innovation?


  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • whether you have identified any similar innovation and its current limitations, including those close to market or in development
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example, if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations

Question 5. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?


  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on any similar innovation that you have identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas, or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project, for example reports, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design, and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

State which organisation will be leading the project.


  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You can submit one appendix, with a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Market awareness

What does the market or markets you are targeting look like?


  • the target markets for the project outcomes and any other potential markets (domestic, international or both)
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK and Canadian position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 8. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase long term productivity as a result of the project?


  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example, why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 9. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe and, where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:

  • external parties
  • customers
  • others in the supply chain
  • broader industry
  • the UK and Canadian economies

Describe and, where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative, on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 10. Project management

How will you manage your project effectively?


  • the main work packages of your project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 11. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?


  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, and data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and other requirements identified, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long, and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 12. Added value

How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? What impact would this award have on the organisations involved?


  • what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example: appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market (this list is not exhaustive)
  • the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
  • what other routes of investment or means of support you have already approached and why they were not suitable
  • how any existing or potential investment or support will be used in conjunction with the grant funding
  • what your project would look like without public funding
  • how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved

Question 13. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

In terms of your project goals, explain:

  • your total project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to your project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project

You must complete the project financial cost breakdown template provided to the Canadian partners in your consortium by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

You must save the completed template as a PDF and upload as an appendix to this question.

All partners in the consortium must work together to complete the project financials on the first page by entering a high-level summary of the full project cost breakdown in both national currencies.

For conversion rates, you must use the exchange rate for November as listed in the HMRC exchange rates for 2023: monthly.

Canadian SMEs must enter zeroes for their costs into the finance section of the Innovation Funding Service.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own section in project costs.

UK organisations

UK organisations must list their project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application.

UK academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance. You can also view our Application Finances video.

Canadian organisations

All Canadian organisations will need to enter zeroes into the finance section of the Innovation Funding Service and select ‘no’ in answer to the question ‘are you requesting grant funding’.

The full costs for each Canadian organisation must be listed in the project financial cost breakdown template provided by NRC IRAP to eligible applicants. This must be uploaded as an appendix to question 13 ‘Costs and value for money’ of your application.

4. Project Impact

This section is not scored but will provide background to your project.

Each partner must complete the Project Impact questions before being able to submit the application.

More information can be found in our Project Impact guidance and by viewing our Impact Management Framework video.

Background and further information

Decarbonisation, and therefore the UK’s ability to deliver the UK Government’s commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050, is not possible without the use of minerals. Many of these minerals are either in short supply, in hard to access places or geopolitically controlled.

In July 2022 the UK government published ‘Resilience for the Future: The United Kingdom’s Critical Minerals Strategy’. The strategy aims to mitigate risks and to improve resilience of critical mineral supply chains, increasing confidence in the UK’s net zero transition, key manufacturing sectors and national security, through three major objectives:

  • accelerate growth of domestic capabilities
  • collaborate with international partners
  • enhance international markets to make them more responsive, transparent and responsible

Within these objectives are more specific challenges relating to:

  1. Circular Economy - the promotion of innovation for a more efficient circular economy for critical minerals in the UK. It is also for utilising government funding mechanisms to support companies developing domestic capabilities in the circular economy of critical minerals and other means to promote recovery and recycling.
  2. International Collaboration - critical mineral markets are global; no individual country can solve the issues alone. The UK will build relationships with influential countries and strategic producer countries that share our goals and engage constructively with others, while protecting our national security and values.

Canada is the UK’s 13th largest export partner, with UK companies exporting £14.1 billion worth of goods and services to Canada in the 12 months to September 2022. Canada represents a large opportunity for UK mining and engineering firms, with the country currently producing 60 minerals and metals at 200 mines and 6,500 quarries. The Canadian Critical Minerals strategy was published in December 2022.

During a five day visit to Canada in March 2023, the UK and Canada signed a landmark agreement to co-operate on critical minerals that are essential to the economy and used in almost all modern and green technologies, from solar panels to electric vehicles. The agreement seeks to promote research and development between UK and Canadian businesses, driving innovation, growth and working together to make supply chains more resilient.

Innovate UK have a number of domestic and international programmes to support the UK Critical Minerals Strategy, including:

  • the Faraday Battery Challenge – a £541 million investment over eight years, investing in research and innovation projects, and facilities, to drive the growth of a strong battery business in the UK
  • the CLIMATES (circular critical materials supply chains) programme, a £15 million investment over the next two years to increase supply chain resilience within critical minerals, with an initial focus on Rare Earth Elements (REE) for permanent magnets

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) (each an “agency”).

Any relevant information submitted and produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to NRC IRAP and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to:

  • the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants
  • scoring and feedback on the application
  • information received during the management and administration of the grant, such as Monitoring Officer reports and Independent Accountant Reports

Innovate UK and NRC IRAP are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK and NRC IRAP will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application. Innovate UK’s Privacy Policy is accessible here.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, and is committed to upholding data protection legislation, and protecting your information in accordance with data protection principles. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Find a project partner

Innovate UK and NRC IRAP will hold an online matchmaking event at 4:00pm UK time (which is 8am PDT and 11am EDT) on both 15 and 16 November 2023. These are networking events to help organisations from the UK and Canada find partners.

There will be a separate briefing and information session at 4pm UK time (which is 8am PDT and 11am EDT) on 23 November 2023.

If you want further help to find a project partner, contact Innovate UK Business Connect.

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK Business Growth

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK Business Growth. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with Innovate UK Business Growth, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

UK Assessment

Your application will be reviewed by up to 5 independent assessors from Innovate UK. They will be selected by their skills or expertise relevant to your project. All of the scores awarded will count towards the total score used to make the funding decision unless you are notified otherwise.

You can find out more about the Innovate UK assessment process in the General Guidance.

Your submitted application will be assessed against these criteria.

Next steps

If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.

You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.

You will need to provide:

  • the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
  • for UK organisations, a redacted copy of your bank details
  • a collaboration agreement
  • an exploitation plan

For UK organisations, in order for us to process your claims, you must make sure you have a valid UK business bank account. It can take several weeks for a new account to be created if required. We recommend starting this process as early as possible to avoid any delays to your project start date.

The bank account which grant is to be paid into must:

  • be a business account in the same name as the organisation listed in IFS
  • be from a UK bank regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)
  • have a cheque and credit clearing facility

Online accounts are eligible as long as they meet the above criteria.

Innovate UK will accept most banking societies apart from:

  • Viva Wallet
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Equals Money UK Limited

If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.

Finance checks

For UK organisations we will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.

You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.

Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.

Your Grant offer letter (GOL)

Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue the UK organisations a GOL.

The GOL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this for us to approve. Once approved we will send you an email with permission to start your project on your confirmed start date.

You must not start your project before the date stated on your email and GOL. Any costs incurred before your agreed start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.

If your GOL is approved on or before the fifteenth of the month it will be dated from the first of that month. If your GOL is approved after the fifteenth, it will be dated the first of the next month.

If your application is unsuccessful

If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.

Sometimes your application will have scored well, and you will receive positive comments from the assessors. You may be unsuccessful as your average score was not above the funding threshold or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if this is applied for this competition.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call +44 (0)300 321 4357.

Innovate UK phone lines are open from 9am to 12 pm and 2pm to 5pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).


Canadian applicants can also contact the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) International Office:

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