Innovate UK Announces Business Models Competition for 2015

15 December 2014

Innovate UK are looking to invest in projects that explore commercial models for a circular economy of goods in which resources are kept in productive use for longer following primary production - ideally at the same value/use.

The circular economy represents a substantial opportunity for business.  Researchers at McKinsey & Company estimate that significant adoption of circular business models worldwide could save as much as £330-400 billion a year.

The agency is looking to support feasibility studies into the business case for retaining value in durable goods through reuse, remanufacture or leasing/maintenance.  Projects should explore the right business model that maximises retained value for the products and that ensures profitability of products and services can be maintained through the re-use of resources.

It is expected that projects will be made up of new collaborations that could establish a value network based on the principles of a circular economy, and that feasibility studies will explore how the business models for each part of the network will operate successfully.  Projects should plan a pilot project to test this and demonstrate how it can become part of normal business.  Total funding of up to £800,000 is available. Innovate UK expects to provide funding of between £25,000 and £50,000 to individual projects.

The percentage of costs that will be paid varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved.  Universities and research organisations, including research and technology organisations and social enterprises are eligible as partners but their portion of the total project costs will be capped at 30%.

Funding for initial studies will be followed by a second competition for collaborative R&D funding for a small number of pilot projects.  Feasibility studies (mainly pre-industrial research projects) must be collaborative and business-led. Consortia should include a business that has the relationship with the final customer and can enable return of products. Projects should last for six months.

Studies within Innovate UK's Great Recovery project have demonstrated the value of bringing design expertise into circular economy projects, therefore the incorporation of design elements into projects is encouraged.  The output from projects should be a business case for the proposed model and a project plan for a pilot of the new value network.

Applicants should clearly describe where revenue generation and growth could occur in the UK as a result of the innovation and its exploitation.  The benefits of the new approach should be quantified as far as possible, and any assumptions regarding market size and environmental impacts described and justified.

The competition will open on 2 March 2015 with an application deadline of 8 April 2015. A competition briefing will be held on 3 March 2015.

Further information can be found here

Competition helpline: 0300 321 4357