Net zero living: Pioneer places UK registered businesses and local authorities can apply for a share of up to £2 million to plan for a place based demonstration of ways to accelerate progress towards net zero. Eligibility This competition is open to collaborations only. To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered: local authority business of any size You must have at least two grant claiming partners in your collaboration, with a minimum of one local authority and one UK registered business. Opening soon Opens: 26 October 2022 Closes: 30 November 2022

Programme: Innovate Uk


Opens: 26 October 2022

Closes: 30 November 2022


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in innovation projects. These will be for local authorities and businesses to develop detailed local plans for innovative approaches to unlock non-technical systemic barriers to the delivery of net zero targets.

The aim of this competition is to support up to 30 places to develop a plan, with local authorities, to accelerate their transition to net zero. This will be achieved by developing innovative solutions to overcome barriers to implementation.

Your proposal must demonstrate a deep understanding of the opportunities from and non-technical systemic barriers to, delivery of net zero objectives in the area.

You must consider the whole net zero system in your area, including:

  • power
  • heat
  • mobility
  • product manufacture and usage

This must be across domestic, commercial and industrial users, as appropriate for the area. Links to other sectors are also welcome where relevant to the delivery of local net zero targets.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2 phase competition. Successful projects from phase 1 will be invited to apply to a phase 2 competition, for further funding to deliver their phase 1 proposals.

Phase 2 will fund up to 6 Pioneer places, with up to £8 million per project to deliver your innovative approach to support a fair and equitable transition to net zero in the UK.

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 grant funding request must be between £50,000 and £75,000.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have a total grant funding request between £50,000 and £75,000
  • start on 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 June 2023
  • last between 1 and 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • demonstrate alignment with current delivery activities within your existing Net Zero Transition Plans or Climate Action Plans
  • be based on existing experience of delivering systems based approaches to net zero
  • be scalable or replicable by other places within the UK
  • have an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy in place for the organisations involved

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK Local Authority or a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

The term local authority includes, county councils, district councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs. Regional collaborations coordinated through bodies such as Combined Authorities are also eligible.

Your project must include eligible partners in its collaboration with a minimum of one local authority and one UK registered business.

We welcome collaborative applications between multiple authorities.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following:

A minimum of two grant claiming partners must be included to be an eligible collaboration and must include a minimum of one UK registered business and one Local Authority.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding when entering their costs during the application.

Non-funded partners

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 project costs.


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 provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

If subcontractors are to be used in your project, you must clearly outline in your application how any knowledge transfer will take place with the local authority.

Number of applications

A local authority or business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further single application.

If an organisation is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Previous applications

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must at all times make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

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.


Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For feasibility studies, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research and local authority participation

The research organisations and local authorities undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 80% of the total grant funding. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 80% 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 project costs if you are a local authority, RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Please note: if a local authority elects to undertake non-economic activity, they must not act commercially with any project outputs.

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