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£1.5m boost for circular economy designs

A competition with a £1.5m pot has been launched to finance research and development projects into designing products to be used again and stimulate the circular economy.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which is running the competition, will award grants of up to £300,000 per project.TSB said it was “primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs)”.

The competition is open to all UK businesses, but contestants need to be working collaboratively led by a business, such as a brand or industrial end-user, that offers access to the market for the product or service involved.

TSB is looking for entries in which the product, service, or component has the potential to reduce its environmental impact by a factor of four.

The innovation agency stated: “We are looking to support projects that are high-impact, both in terms of the market opportunity that they address and the environmental benefits that they offer.” It suggested that projects could involve new design approaches to existing product or a demonstration of a new business model.

TSB said it was running the competition against a background of increasing resource scarcity, which present a risk to UK businesses. Better resource stewardship, it said, could reduce carbon emissions as well as improving the resilience and competitiveness of UK businesses.

It added: “Moving to an economy which is predominantly circular presents companies with substantial opportunities for cost reduction, mitigation of supply risks and value generation through brand differentiation: the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has valued this opportunity at more than $340bn per annum in the EU.

“Good design is key in this transition, with as much as 80% of a product’s environmental impact being determined at the design stage.”

Liz Goodwin, the chief executive of WRAP, tweeted: “Great opportunity to secure #circulareconomy funding through Technology Strategy Board’s competition.”

The deadline for applications is at midday on 11 September 2013. 

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