Funding competition ISCF decarbonisation of industrial clusters: deployment

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million to develop plans for decarbonising an industrial cluster. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is seeking to invest up to £1 million, split across 2 competition strands, for collaborative projects to plan their route to cluster decarbonisation as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation challenge of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

This is the first phase of a 2-phase competition.

In phase 1 you must develop a plan setting out your proposed approach to phase 2.

In phase 2 up to £131 million will be awarded for projects that will deliver, or support delivery of, significant emissions reductions in a UK industrial cluster by 2030, in line with the Industrial Cluster Mission.

Phase 2 is dependent on the success of phase 1. Only successful applicants in phase 1 will be invited to take part in phase 2.

We are running a separate roadmaps strand at the same time as this one. It is focused on the development of industrial cluster decarbonisation roadmaps.

You can apply for both strands. There will be additional funding for each strand in phase 2.

The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £60,000 and £200,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £60,000 and £200,000.

All projects must be collaborative.

We want projects to start as soon as possible and can last between 3 and 4 months, however, we require projects to finish no later than 31 July 2020.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

Academic institutions, research organisations and public sector organisations cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, research organisation, charity, or public sector organisation
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited by the lead applicant to submit your project costs into the Innovation Funding Service

The lead organisation and one or more other organisations must claim funding.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any UK registered business can lead on only one application and collaborate in any number of further applications.

Public sector organisations, research organisations and academic institutions can collaborate in any number of applications.

You can submit an application to one or both of the strands of this competition.

Previous applications


You cannot use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you've submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, 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, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to 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.


We have allocated up to £1 million to fund innovation projects in phase 1 of this competition across both strands (roadmaps and deployment).

Organisations that are primarily engaged in commercial/economic activity (i.e. selective advantage) as part of the project must ensure their request for funding does not exceed the limits defined below. This is inclusive of organisations that typically act non-economically but for the purpose of this project with be undertaking commercial/economic activity.

These projects are categorised as feasibility study projects, therefore you could receive funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

The research or public sector organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation or public sector organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘standard collaborative research and development’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

Your proposal must explain how in phase 1 you will develop a project delivery plan for a phase 2 project.

The project must deliver, or support delivery of, significant emissions reductions in a UK industrial cluster by 2030, in line with the Industrial Clusters Mission. We expect all phase 2 projects to include a mix of:

  • engineering designs
  • simulations
  • commercial arrangements
  • impact assessments
  • and baseline measurements

We do not expect construction and operation of technology to be feasible within the available funding but welcome your proposal if you believe it is strong.

Your phase 2 project must also:

  • demonstrate economic, environmental and social impact, quantifying these where possible
  • engage a wide variety of industries across the cluster
  • identify any potential to link to other UK clusters
  • identify the route to securing regulatory approvals, such as environmental permits
  • detail project risks, risk management and mitigation measures
The project delivery plan developed in phase 1 must:

  • identify match funding sources for phase 2
  • demonstrate an understanding of the approach you will take to ensure compliance with state aid considerations
  • identify appropriate stage gates within the project plan
We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of UK locations and approaches in line with the industrial clusters mission.

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding solutions that do not align with the ISCF Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge programme objectives or BEIS Industrial Clusters mission.

28 October 2019
Competition opens
29 October 2019
Online briefing event
7 November 2019
Online briefing event recording
4 December 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
20 December 2019 3:28pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

1. Project details.

2. Application questions.

3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section sets the scene for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

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

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and explain how your project will benefit the deployment of decarbonisation on your Industrial cluster.

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. 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 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. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers.

Question 1. Project description

Which industrial cluster will you focus on?


  • your cluster’s location, industries and characteristics
  • your cluster’s resources, challenges and opportunities
  • your vision for decarbonisation, with reference to any past work or existing initiatives that support this vision
  • estimates of long-term (2030s onwards) economic, environmental and societal impacts, with reference to any past work

Question 2. Approach to industrial cluster decarbonisation

What approach will you take to the decarbonisation of your industrial cluster?


  • your approach to decarbonising the cluster, identifying any critical paths and the main milestones (such as approvals required)
  • your chosen technologies, sites, infrastructure
  • the scenarios and phasing of carbon reductions
  • your future costs, benefits, business models, targets and risks, particularly in the period to 2030
  • the specific economic, environmental, industrial, and societal benefits targeted by your approach, including any main methodologies, performance indicators, assumptions, uncertainties and interdependences in the period to 2030

  • an indicative schedule of costs for providing these benefits, indicating expected private and public contributions in phase 2
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project and how these will help you to target the challenge or opportunity identified
  • the baseline data that you would use to assist in evidencing a successful project and tracking progress

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can contain key milestones, outline scenarios and any baseline data. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Cluster needs

What short-term needs of your cluster will be addressed through phase 1 of this project?


  • the main objectives and needs of your cluster in its current stage of development
  • what you are aiming to achieve in this phase 1 project
  • the inputs, activities and outputs that will help you meet these objectives, such as through a description of work packages and tasks, key performance indicators, methodologies, responsibilities and associated resources

Question 4. Short-term outcomes and impacts

What outcomes and impacts will your project have by the early 2020s?

Describe, and where possible quantify:

  • the success criteria of the project. i.e. what does success look like?
  • how your project aligns with the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge objectives
  • the potential to support wider decarbonisation in the UK
  • export and inward investment opportunities
  • economic, environmental, social and societal benefits
  • impacts linked to the UK government and other public priorities
  • regional impacts

Question 5. Team and resources

What roles, resources and capabilities are needed to deliver this project?


  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • the details of any external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to carry out the project
  • wider collaborations or contracts you have or will develop as part of your project
  • the resources, datasets, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • any capabilities, resources, or roles you will need to fill during the project in preparation for phase 2 deployment (if successful)

You must submit one appendix to support your answer. It should contain a short summary of the main people working on the project. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Project plan

What are the main steps in your project plan?


  • the key deliverables and milestones. Include any critical paths, lead times or interdependences between work packages
  • what documentation you will supply during the course of the project (e.g. reports)

You can submit a project Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 1 A4 page long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 7. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?


  • 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 project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • how you plan to engage with UKRI
  • how you will monitor, manage and communicate progress of the project
  • who your main stakeholders are, their needs, how you will work with them and how any stakeholder conflicts will be managed
  • how you will monitor and evaluate progress and impact against your described approach and timeframes, including movement from any baseline data collected
  • how you will close down the project

You can submit a project organisation diagram as an appendix to support your answer. This should provide further details on work packages and the organisations/partners involved in these. It must be a PDF and can be up to 1 A4 page long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks and risk management

What are the main risks for this project and how will you mitigate these?


  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
  • how you will mitigate these risks and deal with residual risk
  • any project inputs that are critical to project completion, such as resources, expertise, access to external data
  • any output likely to be affected by regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues etc, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must describe the most relevant risks, and how you will mitigate them. It must be a PDF and can be up to 1 A4 page. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the industrial cluster?

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 a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the 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 activity the partners would undertake, for example in phase 2 of this competition

Question 10. Costs and value for money

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

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and the grant you are requesting
  • how each partner will finance their contributions to the project
  • the balance of costs across the project partners and across work packages
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for your team and the taxpayer
  • any industry, public or other support not included in the finances table, such as data or access to sites

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

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

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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