Air pollution can have a huge and potentially fatal impact on human health, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and people suffering from lung and heart conditions


A new competition from Innovate UK is to invest almost £5 million to reduce the cause of emissions from vehicles, minimise the amount of particulates produced and improve air quality.

Many of the particulates in the air come from vehicle and surface wear, as well as non-road vehicles and equipment. Addressing these sources will help to reduce harmful emissions and create cleaner air for everyone.

Commenting on the importance of tackling air pollution, British Lung Foundation Director of Policy, Alison Cook said:

The UK’s poor air quality truly is a public health crisis. We know that air pollution affects us all, and that children, the elderly and people with heart and lung problems are most at risk.

That’s why finding new solutions to clean up the air we breathe is so important. This competition is a fantastic initiative from Innovate UK and could ultimately result in a healthier future for us all.

We recently released a report on particulate matter around UK health centres. The findings revealed that over 2,000 hospitals and GPs are in areas of unsafe air pollution according to limits set by the World Health Organisation.

Particulate pollution is extremely harmful to our health, as the particles are small enough to pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream. It’s not right that hundreds of thousands of patients are breathing in dirty air as they seek medical care, and it shows just how crucial it is that we solve the UK’s pollution problem as soon as possible.

Non-exhaust and non-road pollution

Organisations can win funding to work on ideas that go beyond exhaust and road vehicle fumes:

  • emissions, either from road vehicle brake and tyre wear or road surface abrasion
  • industrial equipment and non-road vehicles used on construction sites, such as excavators, bulldozers, front loaders, cranes and compressors with combustion engines
  • refrigeration units in vehicles including vans or heavy goods vehicles

Projects in this competition should develop and demonstrate products or services in these 3 areas.

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition that is being run in 2 phases.

Up to 6 projects can get funded contracts for feasibility studies in the first phase, where there is up to £300,000 available. The best projects will be invited to apply to a second phase, worth £4.5 million, to take their ideas further, develop a prototype and test its effectiveness.

Part of the Strategic Priorities Fund

The competition is part of the Strategic Priorities Fund being delivered by UK Research and Innovation for clean air.

The programme is a collaboration between the Natural Environment Research Council, Innovate UK, Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Met Office and the National Physical Laboratory. It will bring together leading researchers, businesses and government departments to minimise the effects of climate change on the environment and protect communities.

Clean growth is one of the Grand Challenges set out in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. It aims to lead the shift to clean energy through the development, manufacture and use of low-carbon technologies, systems and services.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 12 November 2018, and the deadline to register is at midday on 9 January 2019
  • organisations of any size can lead a project, working alone or with others
  • in phase 1, projects can have costs up to £50,000 including VAT and last up to 3 months. Phase 2 projects can have costs up to £1.5 million including VAT
  • projects should complement the work already being done in this area to increase the number of low or zero-emission vehicles on the roads.
  • there will be a briefing event on 13 November 2018 in London and online, where organisations can find out more and how to submit a quality application
  • applicants will be notified by 22 February 2019