Innovating with the NICER Programme

Innovate UK have announced their upcoming Funding Call: Circular Economy for SMES – Innovating with the NICER Programme.

Competition opens: Thursday 13 October 2022

Competition closes: Wednesday 7 December 2022 11:00am

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £1.5 million in circular economy innovation projects.

Full information on the call is available on the Innovate UK Website.

This funding forms part of the UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme (NICER). It enables SMEs to engage with and benefit from access to expertise at five research centres and hub via collaborative research and development (CR&D) activities.

The aim of this competition is to support feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development projects that address the challenges of transitioning to a circular economy.

Your proposal must demonstrate how you will create a step-change in the adoption of circular economy approaches.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated. Your project’s total costs must be between £100,000 and £150,000.

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £100,000 and £150,000
  • start no earlier than 1 May 2023
  • end by 31 October 2024
  • last between 12 and 18 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Your application must include a letter of support from at least one of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres or the NICER CE-hub. The letter must demonstrate alignment of your proposed activities to one or more Centres’ aims and objectives. Collaboration directly with the centres or the hub as a project partner is encouraged but not essential. Further information on the NICER Centres and Hub current research priorities and contact details are below.

To allow sufficient time for the centres to consider your proposal for support, you should contact your aligned Centre prior to 16th November 2022 if you are looking to involve them as project partners.

For information on successful projects from the Round 1 (2021)CE for SMEs: Innovating with the NICER Program funding call visit here or  download a summary report.

Collaboration opportunities in the following areas are invited:​ Electrochemistry​, Thermochemical conversion​, Anaerobic digestion​, Algal technologies​, Catalysis​, Process simulation​, Chemical, Structural & Mechanical Analysis​ Contact:​


NICER Centre for Circular Chemical Economy

Centre Director: Professor Jin Xuan


The internal deadline at CircularChem for letters of support and collaboration is the 4th December 2022.

Find Out More
Key Research Themes for CircularMetals are: Rationalisation, specification & development of high-performance multi-principal-element alloys. Targeting alloys for long term, medium and short-term applications.​ Development of high-performance grain refiners for Al-alloy​ Rejuvenation of used components for reuse ​ Cold forming of YGV components for reuse​ Advanced sorting technology for steel scrap. Increasing scrap contents in Al extrusion and Al sheet. Recovering A20X alloy scrap for aerospace applications.​ New business models with supporting supply chain design, to translate circular strategies into competitive advantages, company resilience and successful revenue models.​ Product design for durable products that can be repaired, reused, remanufactured, and recycled. Including novel design principles and tools.​ Market, pricing, and circular policy. Modelling of economic implications of full metal circulation.​ Circular society and outreach - identify barriers (technical, economic, geographic and emotional) to recycling (collection and sorting) and repair on a wider and more coordinated scale.​ Analysis of behaviours at each of the 6 stages of consumption (acquisition, appropriation, appreciation, devaluation, divestment and disposal


NICER Centre for Circular Metals

Centre Director: Professor Zhongyun Fan


Further information on the CircularMetals research themes and priorities is available on their website.

Find Out More
Key Research Themes for ICEc-MCM are: circularity of aggregate, cement, brick, plasterboard, stone, glass, in infrastructure​ reduction of environmental impacts through MCM circularity​ innovation for primary materials demand reduction​ design and manufacturing of circular materials and products​ closing the loop for end-of-life materials/products​ business models for circularity​ ‘digital’ data systems for resource efficiency​ stimulating supportive stakeholder behaviours​ collaboration for positive change


NICER Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials

Centre Director: Professor Julia Stegemann


If you think your project aligns with the ICEC-MCM, please complete the Expression of Interest Form below.

Further information on the ICEC-MCM research themes and priorities is available on their website.

Complete an Expression of Interest Form
Key research themes for Met4Tech are: Data collation & value chains​ CE systems development ​ Stakeholder interviews and workshops​ CE principles & technology innovations ​ Developing & testing the CE Roadmap​ Providing feedback and ideas​


NICER Centre for Technology Metals

Centre Director: Professor Frances Wall


If you think your project aligns with the Met4Tech Centre, please complete the Expression of Interest Form below.

A presentation on the Met4Tech research themes and priorities is available to download here. 

Complete an Expression of Interest Form
TCC has three core research strands: 1. Circular Supply Chain. Enabling and managing information and value flows - across waste supply, processing, design, manufacturing and retail – through supply chain design and technology. 2. Materials Circularity. Develop sustainable high quality textile polymers from bio waste and Design & manufacture of circular fibres, textiles, textile composites​. and 3. Consumer Experience. CX framework of human wellbeing and sustainability to design experiences of textiles circularity at various points of consumption.


NICER Textiles Circularity Centre

Centre Director: Professor Sharon Baurley


A presentation on the TCC research themes and priorities is available to download here.

Find Out More
The CE-Hub has four key research Themes: Data, modelling and measurement of CE impact.​ Development and sharing of knowledge, tools and use cases to support CE adoption.​ Evidence and evaluation of CE implementation at product, business and sectoral levels. ​ Research across and between value chains to accelerate CE adoption and implementation at scale.


NICER Circular Economy Hub

Co-Directors: Professor Peter Hopkinson and Professor Fiona Charnley


If you think your project aligns with the CE-Hub, please complete the Expression of Interest Form below.

More information on the CE-Hub research themes and priorities is available here.

Complete an Expression of Interest Form