Research Innovation Enterprise

Breaking News: ISCF Wave Three Challenges Confirmed

Not made it to the beach this summer? Fear not! You can catch an ISCF Wave Three opportunity instead!

After consulting with industry and academia through an expression of interest process and following much discussion and reflection, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have confirmed the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Wave Three Challenges.

The next wave of major industrial and societal challenges to receive funding build on previous investment in the ISCF’s Wave One and Wave Two challenges. The ISCF, a £4.7billion fund, aims to bring together the UK’s world-leading research base with our best businesses to transform how we live, work and move around. It will put the UK in the best position to take advantage of future market opportunities.

The Challenges

The Wave Three Challenges confirmed by the Business Secretary include:

  • Accelerating Detection of Disease: Businesses and charities are expected to jointly invest up to £160 million, alongside a £79 million government investment, as part of the Accelerating Detection of Disease programme. The project will support research, early diagnosis, prevention and treatment for diseases including cancer, dementia and heart disease. The pioneering initiative will recruit up to 5 million healthy people. Volunteered data from the individuals will help UK scientists and researchers invent new ways to detect and prevent the development of diseases.
  • Digital Security by Design: a £70 million government investment will be combined with up to £117 million expected private industry investment to develop new technologies. These will range from a new and secure hardware prototype that can cope with cyber-attacks, to software protected from new vulnerabilities appearing online – each to ensure that every UK organisation and consumer online is as secure and resilient to cyber threats as possible.
  • Driving the Electric Revolution: an £80 million investment to help develop the next generation of electric vehicles, to be supported by up to £154 million expected from private industry. The investment will help ensure the UK is able to supply products both in the UK and abroad, to help cut carbon emissions from a range of industries including transport, energy, agriculture and construction.
  • Industrial Decarbonisation: The government has committed £170 million towards deploying technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen networks in industrial clusters to support the mission to establish the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040. Additionally, industry will invest up to £261 million into new technologies to reduce emissions from heartlands of heavy industry such as steel, chemical and refineries in the North East, North West, South Wales and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing Made Smarter: UK manufacturers wanting to adopt the latest digital technologies will be able to bid for a new £30 million R&D competition opening today. The competition is the first from the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge to support the transformation of UK manufacturing by encouraging the development and integration of industrial digital technologies.
  • Low Cost Nuclear: Up to £18 million of government money will be invested through the government in the creation of innovative mini nuclear power stations which are smaller and less expensive to build than traditional nuclear plants. A consortium led by Rolls-Royce has proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500 million focused on designing a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor (SMR). Further questions on the approach to this challenge are welcomed until 16 August. If you would like more details, please contact
  • Quantum Technologies: Quantum-enabled devices present a huge market opportunity for the UK. These technologies could transform a range of sectors including automotive, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications, cybersecurity and defence. This is a £153 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which will be matched by industry with over £200 million of investment expected from the private sector.
  • Smart sustainable plastic packaging: Funding will be used to find ways to cut waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recyclable materials. Businesses are expected to jointly invest up to £149 million, alongside a £60 million government investment, to help fight the global battle against single use plastics.

If you are interested in learning more about the ISCF and the upcoming opportunities, please contact Georgina Jamieson, RIO’s Knowledge Exchange Manager (

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