Innovate UK seeks investment in foundation industries

Innovate UK has put out a call for investors to join a programme supporting businesses carrying out innovative projects that aim to reduce resources and energy use in key industries.

Foundation industries - such as the cement, glass, ceramics, paper, metals, and bulk chemical sectors - are vital for UK manufacturing and worth around £52 billion to the economy. However, they are responsible for 10 per cent of UK Co2 emissions and consume lots of raw materials and energy.

The government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge is therefore supporting innovative business projects looking at ways of reducing energy and resource use.

Innovate UK is seeking partner investors willing to invest in businesses that carry out projects with support from the fund. It has up to £7 million to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the foundation industries carrying out projects to reduce energy and resource use.

Investor partners will be expected to identify potential businesses. They could be new investments for the organisation, opportunities currently under consideration, or SMEs already in a portfolio who are looking for further investment and grant funding for a specific project element.

The businesses will be asked to submit funding applications for projects that meet the objectives of the challenge: reducing 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 or industrial symbiosis; and new product and service development, such as new materials, new materials-based products and services, or new business models.

Investors could include venture capital, angel networks, or corporate venture investors. They will be asked to make an investment that equals or exceeds the value of the Innovate UK grant. They must be an equity provider with the potential to act as lead investor in investments from £50,000 to £2 million – with projects lasting up to two years.

The competition to find investor partners is now open, with a deadline for applications of 9 December. A briefing event will take place on 4 November and the actual competition for invited business projects will open next spring.

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