Funding competition Foundation Industries Lab to Lab India Collaboration

UK research organisations can apply for a share of up to £400,000 to develop virtual networks and explore UK and India capabilities for the foundation industries.

This competition is now closed.

Start new application

Competition sections


The Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £400,000 in innovation lab to lab projects.
The aim of this competition is to:
  • develop close ties with counterparts in India
  • further your work and develop technologies to meet the challenges facing the foundation industries sector
You can include projects that:
  • build virtual relationships between UK research labs and Indian research labs
  • complete market development activities with Indian high growth innovation companies
  • develop proposals for further project development between the UK and Indian organisations led by UK-based labs
Your proposal must outline the capabilities of your research lab to undertake this project and the scope of your project.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £40,000 and £80,000.

Who can apply

This award is provided on a No subsidy basis. This means you must publish or make all project outputs openly available on a non-selective basis. If you decide to commercially exploit project outputs, you can only do so with no selective advantage.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible project costs of between £40,000 and £80,000
  • start by 1st November 2021
  • end by 31st March 2021
  • last between 3 and 5 months
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must carry out the majority of the project work in the UK. With justification, some aspects can be completed in India.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK research organisation (RO), academic institution or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • not act in any way to gain selective commercial or economic advantage from the outputs of this project

Find out which definition your organisation falls into.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

An academic institution, a research organisation or a research and technology organisation can only lead on up to three applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

No subsidy (and non-aid where applicable)

No subsidy

This competition provides funding that is not classed by Innovate UK as a subsidy. You should still seek independent legal advice on what this means for you, before applying.

Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent BEIS guidance.

‘No subsidy’ status is only granted to organisations which declare that they will not use the funding:

  • in any way which gives them selective economic or commercial advantage
  • in any way which would determine the funding as a subsidy as defined by the EU-UK Trade Cooperation Agreement

It is the responsibility of the lead organisation to make sure all collaborators in the project remain compliant with these requirements.

It is important to note that it is the activity that an organisation is engaged in as part of the project and not its intentions, that define whether any support provided could be considered a subsidy.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime you should take independent legal advice. We cannot advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.


We have allocated up to £400,000 to fund innovation lab to lab projects in this competition.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can claim up to 100% of the total eligible project costs.
Of that 100% 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 an academic
  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are a UK research organisation or a research and technology organisation

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to:

  • develop close ties and relationships with counterparts in India
  • further your work and develop technologies to meet the challenges facing the foundation industries sector

Projects must have a clear plan for building further relationships and plans for future collaborative research projects, this can be achieved by:

  • formation of virtual networks between research labs focused on sustainable material manufacture
  • capability mapping for both nations
  • proving a business case for research and collaboration between organisations
  • initial feasibility studies into mutually beneficial technology

This list is not intended to be exhaustive and other outputs that achieve this aim can be included.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, sectors and capability specialisms.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on the foundation industries and sustainable materials innovation.

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • process efficiency, energy costs and optimisation such as heat or energy recovery and reuse
  • process measurement, optimisation and digitisation, such as sensor technology or digital tools
  • waste recycling, utilisation and symbiosis, such as reuse of waste, industrial symbiosis or circular economy models

Other technologies, or focus areas that clearly fall within scope of the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge will be welcomed.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • projects which do not focus on sustainability for the foundation industries and their immediate supply chain
  • projects focussed on decarbonisation infrastructure, for example. fuel switching, carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS)
  • projects focussing on fuels production
  • projects that focus solely on skills
  • projects which are classed as State aid under EC regulations or a subsidy under the EU-UK TCA
  • undertakings which gain a selective economic or commercial advantage from the funding

6 August 2021

Online briefing event: watch the recording

9 August 2021
Competition opens
17 August 2021
Applicant questions and answers session: watch the recording
25 August 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
10 September 2021 4:00pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application details

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

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

All participants must complete this EDI survey and the lead must then select yes in the application question. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

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 tell you the reason why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to questions 4 to 8, question 1, 2 and 3 are not scored. You will receive feedback for each scored question.

You must answer all questions. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Subsidy Basis (not scored)

Will the project, including any related activities, you want Innovate UK to fund, affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU?

All participants must complete this section.

Question 2. Applicant location (not scored)

You must state the name of your organisation along with your full registered address.

We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all participants of a project.

Question 3. Area of focus (not scored)

You must provide a short description of the area of sustainable materials your project will focus on.

Your answer can be up to 100 words long.

Question 4. Market Awareness and Approach

What is the market opportunity behind your project and what approach will you take?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential
  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

You can submit one appendix. 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 5. 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
  • any existing relationships with Indian establishments or knowledge of Indian markets
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • any roles you will need to recruit for
  • how you have considered equality, diversity and inclusivity in your project team

Describe the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project.

If using non-UK subcontractors, provide your detailed rationale, with evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you in an appendix.

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

You can submit one appendix to support your answer to this question. You can include a short summary of the subcontractors chosen to support your project and the justification for any non-UK subcontractors. 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. Outcomes and Impact

What are you hoping to achieve as a direct result of this project and what impact might it have?

Describe or explain:

  • how you expect to use and exploit the results generated from the project
  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs between 6 and 12 months following the end of your project
  • the measure of economic, social, environmental or regional impacts of this project

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

Question 7. Project management and Risk

How will you manage the project effectively and consider and manage risks?

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
  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register and how you will mitigate these risks

Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

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.

You must also 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 8. 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 the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
  • any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to the project
Your answer can be up to 500 words long.

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

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

Background and further information

This competition is funded by the Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Further information on the Challenge and its objectives can be found here Transforming foundation industries challenge – UKRI

To reach to Net Zero, breaking the link between materials production, carbon emissions and environmental degradation is a defining environmental and economic challenge of the 21st century.

The Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge aims to change how materials are sourced and processed, and the types of products manufactured in the glass, metals, cement, ceramic, chemical, paper and glass sectors. This will make them more competitive and help us meet our commitments around reductions in greenhouse gases.

This is a global challenge, and one in which international collaboration between governments, companies and research institutes are imperative in ensuring these sectors remain competitive while reducing environmental impact.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful. If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Need help with this service? Contact us