Funding competition SBRI: tackling non-exhaust and non-road vehicle air pollution

Organisations can apply to develop new solutions to reduce air pollutant emissions from road vehicle brake or tyre wear, non-road mobile machinery used in construction and transport refrigeration units.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition.

Innovate UK, working on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will fund organisations to develop and demonstrate new products or services which reduce the harmful emissions from one or more of:

  • road vehicle brake and tyre wear and/or road surface wear
  • non-road mobile machinery used for construction, such as excavators, bulldozers, front loaders, cranes and compressors
  • transport refrigeration units

The overall programme will be delivered in 2 phases. This is phase 1. 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 apply to take part in phase 2.

Funding type


Project size

In phase 1 projects can range in size up to a total cost of £50,000 each, including VAT. Projects must start by the end of April 2019, be completed before the end of July 2019 and can last up to 3 months.

Who can apply

To lead a project, you can:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, the research base, the public sector or the third sector as subcontractors

We aim to award development contracts only to individual organisations. However, if you can show that collaboration will benefit your overall project, you can sub-contract specific tasks. Ideally subcontractors will be sector specialists and/or demonstrate a strong connection to the academic community. Any subcontracted work is the responsibility of the main contractor.

Universities and registered charities can apply but must demonstrate a route to market, including a plan to commercialise the results.


A total of up to £300,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 1. Phase 1 is focused on supporting feasibility studies. These should result in a technical and commercial specification, detailed design package and test plan for a technical solution.

We expect to fund up to 6 projects in phase 1. Individual feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts will be up to £50,000, including VAT.

Your application must have at least 50% of its contract value attributed directly and exclusively to research and development (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

Phase 2 will be focused on developing a prototype and undertaking field testing to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution. We plan to fund 3 contracts of up to £1.5 million each, including VAT.

Your proposal

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition. Organisations will work with Innovate UK to develop and demonstrate new products or services which help reduce harmful impacts on air quality.

Your proposed solution must:

  • be innovative
  • be practical and deliverable
  • take affordability into consideration

We particularly encourage applications that:

  • demonstrate a clear plan for commercialisation and route to market for developed solutions
  • demonstrate a strong connection to relevant academic research which links proposed activities and solutions to current research
  • demonstrate scalability and replicability
  • set out clearly how solutions might be tested in a real world setting or test environment as part of phase 2
  • gather and analyse data to demonstrate the long-term benefits of the solution

Specific themes

This competition is looking to procure R&D services for technologies that address air quality issues caused by one or more of:

  • emissions which come from brake and tyre wear, or from road surface abrasion
  • vehicles or transportable industrial equipment used on construction sites not intended for carrying passengers on the road but equipped with a combustion engine
  • refrigeration systems designed to cool perishable products transported by road in vehicles including vans or heavy goods vehicles

If practical we will employ a portfolio approach to fund a range of projects from all 3 themes.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects which:

  • focus on exhaust emissions from the engine of road vehicles
  • focus on removing pollutants from the air rather than reducing the causes of emissions
  • address air quality issues unrelated to road vehicle brake and tyre wear, non-road mobile machinery used in construction or the operation of transport refrigeration units
  • shift the pollution to other areas, or make an overall negative contribution to the environment

12 November 2018
Competition opens
13 November 2018
London briefing event
9 January 2019 12:00pm
Registration closes
16 January 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
22 February 2019
Applicants notified
1 March 2019
Feedback issued

Before you start

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending our briefing event listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

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

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality your application. Please use Microsoft Word for the application form or your application will be ineligible.

Background and further information

Air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK. It contributes to early deaths, aggravates lung and heart conditions and even affects mental health and cognitive performance.

The impact of exhaust emissions, particularly in diesel road vehicles, has been the focus of attention in recent years. There are other significant sources of pollution to address. This competition aims to promote innovative solutions in some of these areas, bringing forward products and services which could be widely deployed to minimise or address their impact on air quality.

This SBRI competition is part of a broader UKRI Strategic Projects Fund: Clean Air programme. The programme is a collaboration between:

  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Met Office
  • Innovate UK
  • Medical Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • National Physical Laboratory

The programme will develop solutions to air pollution to help policymakers and businesses protect health and work towards a cleaner economy. It will:

  • predict future air quality challenges
  • identify the most vulnerable groups in society
  • improve new technologies and policies for reducing air pollution
  • create a system for providing robust consistent advice to decision makers

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 sub-contractor, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

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

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