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Algal Bioenergy Special Interest Group SPARK Plus awards

Closing date: 16.00 on 22 May 2015

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Innovate UK are to invest £50,000 in early-stage R&D projects aimed at encouraging collaborations between the research community and industry.


Algal-derived biofuels and bioenergy remains a nascent technology in the UK (see A UK Roadmap for Algal Technologies) and NERC is keen to support the translation of such technologies into industry to facilitate the innovation pipeline to commercialisation. Key gaps in knowledge include the biochemistry, processing, growth conditions and identifying strains/species best suited for the production of fuel or energy. Upon completion, projects must therefore have identified the main end-user industry to which the outputs of the research are best suited (eg aviation, energy companies, or road transport).


The objective of the SPARK Plus Award is to enable an SME to collaborate with an academic partner on an early-stage R&D project. The £10,000 award will be paid to the research organisation when the work is finished. The SME must contribute at least £5,000 to the project costs; the cost of the project should be a minimum of £15,000 and this contribution can be in-kind or in staff time.


Projects must focus on early-stage R&D of macro- or micro- algal derived fuels or energy for commercial applications, and can include biotechnology and/or non-biotech or synergistic technologies, so long as the technology improves efficiencies.

Projects must be based on an assessment of ecosystem services to address one or more of the following:

  • Optimising process technologies or methodologies for enhanced or more efficient chemical, oil or gas yields.
  • Developing upstream technologies, processes or methods for enhanced or more efficient chemical, oil or gas yields (eg synthetic biology, culturing, genomics).
  • Reducing costs and improving efficiencies in downstream processing (can include techno-economic analyses or business models as well as engineering solutions).
  • Post-process analytical and profiling techniques.
  • Innovations in process control systems or technologies

How to apply

Go to the SPARK Awards page on ABSIG website to find out more and download all the relevant documents here

Key dates

Key stages




Deadline for submissions

4pm Friday 22 May 2015*

Applicants notified

4 to 10 June 2015

Project start date

10 June – 10 July 2015

Project completion

Friday 29 January 2016*

Reporting requirements submitted

Friday 19 February 2016*



Contact information

Michelle Carter Michelle.carter@ktn-uk.org 07825 727712

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