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Courtesy of Harry Jackson

The aim of the Proof of Concept (PoC) scheme is to encourage and support those next steps in collaboration between academic partners and industrial partners within the BBSRC NIBB Networks, particularly after a relationship has been initiated through the Business Interaction Voucher (BIV) Scheme. Although not essential, we would recommend involving a relevant industry partner in PoC applications as we would encourage projects that support the transition of research, technologies and processes along the Technology Readiness Level scale 1-4.

It is expected that the funds will help resource small, proof of concept as well as small scale “scouting” projects, between academic and industrial based partners with the view that they will deliver more significant future outcomes – for example:

  • a more detailed/ formed concept for the next stage of technology development & transfer
  • demonstration that a concept works within an industrially relevant setting

These funds will be awarded through a number of “Proof of Concept” calls which will be announced at various times during the lifetime of the Network. For more details on the scheme, eligibility and criteria please see the guidelines below.  It is likely that each call will have specific themes or challenges and focus points so please check back here on a regular basis, especially when there is a call open to see the latest themes and focus areas.

The FINAL call – an open call – is now OPEN.

Call closes the 29th February 2024 at 16:00 hrs

NB – project work will need to be completed and invoiced by end of February 2025.

Applicants are invited to submit applications that fit within the themes/ remit of Algae-UK AND the BBSRC definition of industrial biotechnology and bioenergy (IB):

“IB is a set of cross-disciplinary technologies that use biological resources for producing and processing materials and chemicals for non-food applications. The resources include plants, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms. The feedstocks include renewable materials such as crop residue, animal wastes, food and municipal wastes and perennial biomass”.

Funds and scale of award

Algae-UK are looking to fund projects up to £50k (100% fEC figure) with an expectation that at least 2 projects will be funded in this round. It is anticipated that proposed projects will have a duration of no more than 12 months and will start in May 2023.

Criteria for funding

  1. Applicants are members of the Algae-UK Network – this includes any industrial partners.
  2. Proposal contains a clear and concise plan with well-defined objectives and deliverables.
  3. Ideally involve an industrial collaborator. Such an involvement is not mandatory for Algae-UK PoC funding, but is a key consideration when reviewing grant applications.
  4. Proposal contains a clear plan for following-up and progressing the work/ technology development beyond the initial scope of the PoC proposal.
  5. Proposal includes a plan for establishing value and demonstrating impact from project deliverables.
  6. Proposal is a proof of concept and good value for money.


Funding is available for Algae-UK Network members who are eligible to receive BBSRC funding.  The guidelines for this can be found by going to http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/apply/grants-guide.aspx.   Please note that there is a provision made for “buying in services” from commercial entities which is capped at 20% of the total project costs – these services will need to be justified in the application.  We are particularly looking for projects where there is a relevant industry partner actively engaged in the project. Whether they are an integral part of the work programme or providing an advisory role so that the project remains commercially grounded, their role needs to be clearly defined within the PoC application.  Greater value will be placed on projects that have more significant industry involvement – beyond the advisory role commitment – as they will be seen to have more industrial and stakeholder relevance.

Note on State Aid rules

Please be aware that Algae-UK BBSRC NIBB funds will be counted as ‘de minimis’ State Aid and so those receiving funding will need to ensure they are not in breach of ‘de minimis’ State Aid rules through their participation. The following link might be helpful in this regard – https://www.gov.uk/state-aid.


Application is via the Algae-UK PoC application form, which can be downloaded from the link below.  Please take careful note of the instructions provided within the application form as well as the information provided in this call scope and the guidelines document.  All applications need to be submitted electronically to the Network Manager at info@algae-uk.org.uk. The Management Board aims to assess and turnaround decisions on PoC applications within four weeks of the call closing date. Please note that awards will be subject to certain contractual terms which will be set out in the award letters. 

Data protection regulations

Please be aware that copies of proposals will be made available to the PoC Assessment Committee (members of the Management Board and external “co-opted” reviewers where appropriate), who will use information provided in the application for processing the proposal through assessment, the award of any consequential grant, and for the payment, maintenance and review of the funds. Funding comes from BBSRC, so to meet the Research Councils’ obligations for public accountability and the dissemination of information, non-confidential details of awards may also be made available on the Research Councils’ websites and other publicly available databases, and in reports, documents and mailing lists.  Be assured however, that all parties involved in PoC assessment and monitoring have to sign a confidentiality undertaking and any conflicted parties (i.e. members of the Assessment Committee) will not have access to confidential information regarding the proposals they are conflicted over.