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Competition 24: Delivering a Net Zero NHS for a Healthier Future: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How does SBRI Healthcare competition 24 work?

SBRI enables government departments to connect with technology organisations, finding innovative solutions to specific public sector challenges and needs. It aims to use the power of government procurement to accelerate technology development and/or implementation. SBRI offers an excellent opportunity for all type of organisations, especially early-stage companies, to develop and demonstrate technology. SBRI is a simple structured process and offers different funding options depending on the maturity of the proposed innovation.

Competition 24: Delivering a Net Zero NHS for a Healthier Future is intended to accelerate the development of greener innovations towards a more sustainable healthcare system. The projects will be expected to demonstrate significant contribution to NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution.

Innovative solutions and approaches that will significantly support reduction in carbon emissions and have potential for implementation in the NHS are sought across three key focus areas: Clinical community engagement, Novel business models to enable circularity in perioperative care and critical care settings, and Net zero transformation across clinical pathways.


Am I eligible to submit an application to an SBRI Healthcare competition?

The competition is open to single organisations (contracts are executed with individual legal entities) based in the UK or EU from the private, public, and third sectors, including companies (large corporates and small and medium enterprises), charities, universities and NHS providers, as long as a significant contribution towards the reduction of NHS carbon emissions through the proposed solution is demonstrated. Organisations based outside the UK or EU with innovations in remit for this call can apply as subcontractors of a lead UK/EU based organisation or via a UK or EU subsidiary.

Collaborations are encouraged in the form of subcontracted services as appropriate.

I am a pre-startup company, can I apply?

Yes, but contracts must be awarded to legal entities.

I am based at a university, can I apply?

The competition is open to all organisations that can demonstrate a significant contribution to the NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution.

What innovations are considered eligible for SBRI Healthcare?

Competitions are open to any innovation, including medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, digital health solutions and AI solutions, behavioural interventions, and service improvements. All innovations must meet the entry criteria and challenges described in the Challenge Brief on the individual competition page.

Are there any innovations considered out of remit for Competition 24 ?

There are a number of technologies / types of solution that are already in development, available, or will not make a significant impact on the challenges addressed in this brief. These are listed below. Any technologies and solutions that negatively impact staff workloads and do not support the alleviation of workforce pressure or efficiency improvement, or that require high upfront capital investment by clinical services will also be excluded.

● The funding competition will not support innovations and technology tackling reduction in anaesthetic and medical gases.
● Standalone generic introductory e-learning on the topic of environmental sustainability and health.
● Approaches that do not lead to tangible and measurable actions by the clinical professional and or specialty groups.

Can I apply for a SBRI Healthcare award if I have other sources of funding?

Applicants with other sources of funding are eligible to apply to SBRI Healthcare, provided the project that would be funded by SBRI Healthcare is not already supported by another funding stream. Applicants must articulate how the SBRI Healthcare award would be distinct from existing studies and what additional evidence would be collected to support the development, implementation and/or adoption of the proposed innovation.

My company is a registered charity, can I apply?

Yes, registered charities are eligible to enter SBRI competitions via their trading company limited by guarantee.

I am based outside of England, can I apply?

Applications are accepted from the UK and any country in the European Union, including associated countries for EU Research and Innovation. However, please be aware that projects must show a clear health benefit to the UK. Legal entities from all other countries may be project partners, but cannot be the lead organisation.

Can I sub-contract work outside of England or the UK?

In principle this is possible, as long as the applicant can demonstrate that the subcontractors have the appropriate expertise, value for money and how this will benefit UK healthcare and the economy.

Are there preferences in the type of organisations selected to lead a project?

All applications are assessed based on the quality of the proposal by relevant experts based on the published criteria. Irrespective of the host organisation, all applications are expected to demonstrate that the right expertise is available for the support of the project (e.g., if a trial is included, the involvement of a healthcare provider would be expected) and that can demonstrate a significant contribution to the NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution.

Can an SME be the lead applicant for the application or does it have to be an NHS trust/organisation? Will the funds be directly allocated to the SME or to the NHS body?

SMEs can be the lead applicant on the application, and collaborate with an NHS provider for the delivery of the study. Funds will be paid to the lead organisation who will be responsible for paying collaborators and subcontractors where applicable.

Are consortia/collaborations eligible?

Collaborations are encouraged. However, the contract will be executed with the Host Organisation; any collaborating organisations will act as subcontractors.

Project Partners

Do I need to have a clinical partner and do they need to be identified prior to submission?

It is strongly advised that clinical partners are identified prior to submission. The most successful applicants demonstrate an existing relationship with a named clinician or similar expert at the time of application. Ideally this will be a named NHS member of staff with whom you have had at least initial discussions about the feasibility of your project.

I am in touch with NHS Trusts and sites, would these count as clinical partners?

Yes, NHS sites can be clinical partners. Please list all clinical partners in the application by providing the name, details and role description in the appropriate section of the application – up to 10 clinical partners can be added. If there are multiple clinical sites involved, please provide the main contacts/people responsible for this project at each of the NHS sites. We do not expect a supporting letter from the organisation.

Do I need to partner with a Health Innovation Network to be eligible to apply?

It is not an eligibility criteria to partner with a Health Innovation Network (HIN); however, it is strongly encouraged that you do. The HINs are uniquely positioned to support the development of health innovation and, by partnering with them, you can tap into their knowledge, expertise and networks to support the spread and adoption of your technology. Any organisation based in the UK (including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) can access the Health Innovation Network.

Can I work in collaboration with other companies?

Contracts will only be awarded to individual organisations. However, applicants may identify components of the work which they wish to subcontract and may also employ specialist consultants or advisers if they believe this will increase the chances of the project being successful.

What is the best way to find project partners (commercial partners or clinical partners)?

We strongly advise that you get in touch with your local Health Innovation Network (HIN) to develop partnerships and get advice. You can also contact your local university.

To find out more information on the HINs and their contact details, you can visit their website here.

Applicants must demonstrate a significant contribution to the NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution. Expertise to address supply chain upstream and downstream implications of carbon emissions management activities, carbon reduction methodology and/or framework to outline qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess any reduction in carbon emissions resulting from the innovation and to draft a carbon reduction plan should be demostrated.

Can you submit an application with a University partner?

Yes. Competitions are open to single organisations (contracts are executed with individual legal entities) based in the UK or EU from the private, public, and third sectors, including companies (large corporates and small and medium enterprises), charities, universities and NHS providers, as long as a strong commercial strategy is provided. Organisations based outside the UK or EU with innovations in remit can apply as subcontractors of a lead UK/EU based organisation or via a UK or EU subsidiary.

How much do Health Innovation Networks (HINs) charge for their service?

Different HINs have different processes. Initial contact is generally free and often with the HIN commercial team for signposting and advice & guidance. This is often a scoping exercise to understand the innovation and which gaps may need addressing. If an innovator decides to engage further with an HIN such as using the HIN for clinical work, health economics, or other reasons, the charges are usually agreed on a case-by-case basis. These would be acceptable project costs.

The HINs can also assist in addressing the NHS Net Zero agenda, procurement implications, carbon calculators and health inequalities.


Do clinical trial studies need to take place in the UK?

Although this is not an eligibility criterion, it is strongly advised that clinical evaluations are conducted in the UK as the SBRI Healthcare programme acts as a pre-procurement programme and the main objective is to address NHS needs. As such, it is expected that any evidence generated can be translated to demonstrate the innovation’s applicability to be adopted into the NHS.

My innovation was developed with the NHS clinical teams without public and patient involvement and engagement (PPIE), am I eligible to apply?

While the programme appreciates that innovations may require different levels of PPIE during development, it is expected that the organisation has involved patients/members of the public during the research and development phase. PPIE is one of the assessment criteria and will be reviewed, including PPIE members.

There should be continued PPIE as part of the project, to ensure that patients and members of the public are involved and can provide feedback that will support the refinement of the innovation during the implementation stage, and this should be clearly described in the application.

The SBRI Healthcare development agreement is with a NHS Trust, does this suggest that public engagement should take place in or that solutions should be directed towards the Trust’s geographical region?

No, solutions can be directed towards any region in the UK. Nottingham University Hospitals only acts as a legal entity for administrative purposes on behalf of the funder and their involvement does not affect the national ambition and benefits that the SBRI Healthcare programme aims to achieve.

Can the funding be used to test the product in one of the devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)?

Organisations across the UK and EU are eligible to apply. However, applicants would need to demonstrate carbon impact in at least one NHS England institution.


Who owns the Intellectual Property generated by the project?

Intellectual property rights are retained by the applicant although certain rights of usage may be applied by the funding authority including royalty-free, non-exclusive licence rights and the right to require licences to third parties, at a fair market price. Applicants are encouraged to review the standard SBRI Agreement before applying.

As a university should I use Full Economic Cost (FEC)?

No. SBRI is a competitive procurement mechanism and tenders are submitted by a variety of organisations. Whatever calculations are used to arrive at the tender price, each application is assessed against bids from other organisations. Applicants should bear this in mind when calculating their tender price. Costs should reflect fair market value.

Is there any flexibility on the project start date?

Successful projects are expected to start by the start date indicated in the outcome letter. For Competition 24 it is February 2024

Should project costs include VAT?

The application’s maximum budget and itemised project costs should exclude VAT. Please note that SBRI Healthcare awards are subject to VAT. If applicable, the host organisation may invoice SBRI Healthcare with 20% VAT in addition to the NET cost. It is the host organisation’s responsibility to determine if VAT is applicable.

Can overheads be included in project costs?

An element of overheads may be included in project costs. However, such an element must be realistic. Assessors will consider financial costs in terms of ‘value for money’ at the assessment stage. Projects showing costs that are considered unreasonable may be rejected on these grounds.

Do SBRI Healthcare awards constitute State Aid?

No, SBRI Healthcare is not a research grant and follows pre-procurement rules and does not constitute state aid.

Is any match funding required?

No match funding is required.

How many awards will be made in each competition?

We cannot give a specific number as the amount of awards will be subject to budget availability.

Is funding paid in advance or in arrears?

Payments will be made in advance.

What is the level of funding awarded?

Funding for Competition 24 is between £50,000 and £100,000 (NET cost, excluding VAT)


If a product is already on the market but in need of further R&D, would that be excluded?

Although there is no specific entry point, it is important to note that awards should demonstrate a significant contribution to the NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution.

Examples of exit points include:

• Demonstrated environmental impact that the proposed technology / solution or project would have on the care pathway and delivery of care it is intending to operate in.
• Quantified projected carbon savings that the proposed innovation / project can have in intended use (care pathway for example) and methodology used to estimate the carbon impact.
• A set timeline and strategy to comply with the requirements set out in the NHS Supplier Roadmap, including the development of a Carbon Reduction Plan.
• Implementation plans and model for potential NHS regional and national scale up.
• Clear identification of barriers and enablers to implementation and scaling up.
• Market validation on proposed users and strategy for commercial viability and scalability.
• Engagement with relevant partners and key stakeholders (including PPIE) to achieve a sustainable spread of the proposed innovation.
• Health inequalities impact assessment.

What is the minimum entry point for this award and what activities are fundable?

While demonstration of proof of concept is not required, the most competitive proposals are those with some data to support the case for further development and illustrate technical feasibility. Project costs can include:
• Labour
• Materials
• Capital equipment
• Subcontractors
• Travel & subsistence
• Indirect costs

Can we apply for a project that is longer than 12 months in duration?

No, projects must be between 6 and 12 months duration.

What are the requirements for the supporting video pitch to be submitted?

The video should be no longer than 3 minutes in MP4 format at a maximum file size of 40MB. Please upload the video to a file sharing platform that does not have link expiration. Please do not upload your video to a streaming service or to your Institutional SharePoint.

If an innovation has already been developed and deployed into the NHS, can it still be suitable?

Yes, it may be eligible. Details on technologies excluded from competitions are available in the competition challenge briefs

Can I submit an application if I have been funded previously by SBRI?

Yes you are eligible to apply if you have been previoulsy funded by SBRI, provided there is no overlap between the funded activities of the projects.

Is tackling air pollution and/or carbon emissions by cars in scope?

Applicants are expected to demonstrate a significant contribution to the NHS carbon emission reduction through the proposed solution in one following priority

  1. Clinical community engagement
  2. Novel business models to enable circularity in perioperative care and critical care
  3. Net zero transformation across clinical pathways
    Air pollution and/or carbon emission by cars won't be in scope if not related to the above themes.


How do I submit my application?

All bids should be made using the SBRI Healthcare Programme Management Office Research Management System (RMS) Application Portal.

You must create a login using your email address and a password.

Please note that all project partners should be invited to the application through the system via email to participate as co-applicants after which they must confirm and approve their participation; the application cannot be submitted without doing so.

Details of the challenge and expected outcomes of the projects can be found in the project documents. You are strongly advised to read all published competition documents before completing the application form.

If my application fits more than one sub-category theme, can I apply to more than one?

Applications may fit multiple sub-categories; however, you may only select 1 category on the application portal so please select the most appropriate. The funding envelope is for the entire competition and funding is based on quality. There is no specific budget allocated to different challenges and categories. Thus, there is no advantage or disadvantage to selecting a specific sub-category theme.

Please note, given the duration of SBRI Healthcare awards, applicants are encouraged to consider what evidence could be feasibly collected within the project duration.

Can each organisation submit more than one application?

Organisations are welcome to submit more than one application if they have multiple innovations that address the challenge brief and meet the entry criteria. However, there must be significant differences between the innovations submitted and consideration given towards the resources needed to deliver the projects.

How are applications selected for funding for Competition 24?

Applications (including a 3 min video) will be reviewed and scored by a selected pool of experts according to a set of weighted assessment criteria available on the Invitation to Tender. Bids will be concurrently reviewed by the Greener NHS Team to assess whether proposals fully align with the priorities described on the Challenge brief and wider Net Zero priorities as set in the ‘Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ NHS’ report. Proposals under each sub-category will be awarded based on quality; those proposals that will receive highest score and will be favourably assessed by the Greener NHS Team will be awarded funding.

Is a template of the application form available?

A template of the application form is available on the page of Competition 24.

What is the assessment criteria?

Applications will be reviewed by a selected pool of experts according to the following weighted
assessment criteria:
● How well does the application address the challenge brief and does the proposed solution benefit patients, the NHS and/or the Social Care sector, and support the NHS to reach its net zero ambition by contributing to a significant reduction of carbon emissions? - 30%
● Are the project plan, deliverables and risk mitigation strategy appropriate? - 15%
● Is the product innovative, will it have a competitive advantage over existing and alternative solutions and are the arrangements surrounding the use and development of Intellectual Property appropriate? - 10%
● Does the proposed project have appropriate implementation plans and a credible model for potential regional and national scale up? - 15%
● Does the proposed innovation have potential to enhance equity of access and does the project include consideration towards patient and public involvement? - 10%
● Do the host organisation and project team appear to have the right skills and experience to deliver the project? - 15%
● Are the costs justified and appropriate? - 5%

Who should I contact if I have any further questions?

Questions about SBRI Healthcare competitions should be sent to

Questions about SBRI as a government programme should be addressed to


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