The Government this week launched a new £200 million fund with the aim of ensuring that UK businesses are at the forefront of a sustainable economic recovery from Covid-19. The Sustainable Innovation Fund is targeted at UK companies focused on innovative projects, who are in need of urgent financial support to keep the projects alive in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The funding, which is delivered through Innovate UK, sits alongside the £500m Future Fund and underlines the extent to which the UK (in line with many countries across the EU) has taken advantage of the loosening of state aid rules under the EU’s Temporary Framework to remedy the economic fallout of Covid-19.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund is seeking applications with a clear emphasis on environmental sustainability and the creation of new opportunities, across a wide range of sectors, as the UK navigates its recovery from the economic impact of Covid-19.

It is envisaged that the funding will act as a catalyst in the promotion of “climate positive” innovation across the UK. Examples of what could be funded include projects:

  • to develop new technologies designed to increase the energy efficiency of homes and businesses; or
  • to reduce the carbon footprint of public transport; or
  • to promote the manufacture of biodegradable packaging.

The focus on sustainability inherent in the new fund demonstrates the Government’s desire for businesses to take a leading role in the UK’s efforts to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. More broadly, it shows that ESG factors are increasingly coming to the fore when it comes to governance, at both the corporate and national level.

Businesses can apply for support through the Sustainable Innovation Fund by visiting the Innovate UK website.

This article was written by Isaac Paine and Mark Devlin.