Funding competition Ocean plastic solutions investment accelerator: reducing plastic pollution

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £2 million to develop solutions that tackle the environmental crisis of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

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Competition sections

Description

This is an investment accelerator competition providing simultaneous grant funding and private investment from Sky Ocean Ventures for early stage projects led by UK companies. The grant funding is provided by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

Up to £1 million of grant funding and £1 million of private investment is available to support business-led innovation. This is to develop solutions that tackle the environmental crisis of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

The competition is open to single UK small and micro companies who are looking for grant funding and who want to establish an equity relationship with Sky Ocean Ventures. Find out if your business fits the EU definition of a small or micro company.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total costs should be between £100,000 and £200,000. Projects must start by 1 September 2019 and last up to 12 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based small or micro company, or have registered as a UK business before the grant is awarded
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work alone

Research and technology organisations and universities cannot apply, but spin-out UK companies can apply.

Previous applications

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you must submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.

A UK business must be eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.

Funding

We have allocated up to £1 million in grant funding alongside investment from Sky Ocean Ventures.

For projects defined as feasibility studies or industrial research projects, Innovate UK will fund 50% of project costs and Sky Ocean Ventures will provide the remaining 50%. This funding will support the pre-commercial development and de-risking of new technologies and business models.

For experimental development projects which are closer to market, Innovate UK will fund 45% of project costs. Sky Ocean Ventures will cover the remaining eligible project costs. Experimental development funding can support commercially usable prototypes for demonstration and validation trials, including experimental production processes and supply chain development.

This competition provides state aid funding under the General Block Exemption Regulation. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to support new scientific or technological innovation to reduce plastics waste and deliver a more circular economy approach to plastic use (including for polymer-based textiles and elastomers). For example, this could include:

  • scalable innovations along the entire plastics value chain, from material to end of life
  • technology-enhanced business models that foster responsible consumption and drive the circular economy model
  • step-change efficiency improvements in the recycling, clean-up and treatment of waste plastics

Projects should describe how they aim to reduce plastic waste and pollution of the wider environment. You should clearly describe where revenue generation and growth will occur in the UK as a result of the innovation and its exploitation.

Also in scope are:

  • alternative business models which encourage positive consumer behaviour
  • business actions at scale to reduce consumption and waste of single use plastic

The benefits of the new approach should be measured as far as possible.

In all applications, any assumptions regarding market size and environmental impacts should be described and justified.

Sky Ocean Ventures are Innovate UK’s partner on this programme and are the only organisation eligible to provide the investment for your project through this specific competition. If you are successful in being offered grant funding by Innovate UK, you must also secure investment heads of terms with Sky Ocean Ventures before a grant can be awarded. Before submitting your application therefore, we recommend you contact Sky Ocean Ventures to discuss your project and/or business at oceanventures@sky.uk.

Projects related to compostable or biodegradable approaches and chemical recycling are in scope.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities. These may include feasibility studies, industrial research projects or experimental development projects.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following, non-exhaustively:

  • developing new sustainable polymer materials
  • sustainable plastic alternatives
  • alternative business models and supply chains that use less plastic
  • resource usage and design for circularity
  • new product designs
  • technology-enabled models that change consumer behaviours
  • new recycling processes, including collecting, sorting and processing of waste plastics
  • increasing the value of recycled polymers through conversion to new input materials
  • scalable, technology-enabled remedial solutions

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects that have a potential for commercialisation. Please see the general guidance to help you decide which category your project fits in.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that cover energy generation from incineration of plastic waste.
2 January 2019
Competition opens
13 March 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
31 May 2019
Applicants notified
14 June 2019
Applicants notified.

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

You will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Application details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Application details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Is the application a resubmission?

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application. List any organisations you have named as collaborators. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please 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.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to these questions. You will receive feedback from them for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused 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, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 2. Approach and innovation

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

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of 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, report, 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 must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long and no larger than 1MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

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

Describe or explain:

  • 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 sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between those who will work on the project and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any gaps in the team you will need to fill

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 pages long and no larger than 1MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • 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 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 to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5. Outcomes and route to market

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

Describe or explain:

  • 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

Question 6. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • 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 7. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the 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 can submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long and no larger than 1MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how will you manage this?

You can submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long and no larger than 1MB. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding and private sector investment have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10. 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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how you will finance your contributions to the 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 sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Extra help

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357.

About Sky Ocean Ventures

Sky Ocean Ventures is an impact investment vehicle that invests in new ideas and businesses who can help solve the oceans plastic crisis. Sky is bringing its deep consumer knowledge and entrepreneurial experience to Sky Ocean Ventures to support these young companies and to create meaningful change.

The following provides a summary of how Sky Ocean Ventures operates that will be relevant for your application.

How we think about impact

Our objectives are taken from 2 UN Sustainable Development Goals:

1.UN SDG 12: Sustainable and Responsible Consumption

2.UN SDG 14: Life Below Water

We want to reduce plastics leakage, increase awareness around the effects of plastics and improve the plastics value chain to create a more sustainable model.

We want to support innovators who believe that this is a problem that can be solved through innovation.

How we invest

We invest from pre-seed through to Series A. In practical terms, that means from the very first external investment into a company or project to turn an idea into something concrete, through to funding for scaling a product or service that has paying users.

If you have a solution that you believe can change the way we use, recycle and ultimately value plastics, then please get in touch at oceanventures@sky.uk.

Ultimately our decisions are made by our investment committee.

How we will support our investee companies

When we invest in a company, we can call on volunteers from over 30,000 employees globally to help our portfolio companies solve their hardest problems across all areas: including product, marketing, business strategy, operations, finance.

We also have an “Innovators-in-Residence" program where start-ups can come and trial products on our Sky Campus in West London.

Ultimately, our most valuable asset is our global voice. Each innovative solution will also be showcased on Sky channels to raise awareness among our viewers, help adoption and change behaviours.

We believe our most important role is to champion our innovators and drive change.

For more information please visit our website at: www.skyoceanventures.com.

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