Media Release: Innovation competition launched to protect Scotland’s water environment


A NEW environmental competition aimed at businesses across Scotland has been launched today (Monday 12 January 2015).

The £800,000 competition aims to develop innovative solutions through private-public sector collaboration to recover phosphorus and other nutrients and chemicals from water for beneficial use.

The competition is the first by a public agency in Scotland to use the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a process which connects public sector challenges with innovative ideas from small companies, microbusinesses and spinouts across all sectors.

Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to enter and potential applicants are being invited to launch events in Inverness on January 12 and Edinburgh on January 29 to receive further information and learn more about the SBRI process.

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for aquatic plants and animals. Even a modest increase in phosphorus can, under the right conditions, have a dramatic negative impact on marine environments including algae blooms, low dissolved oxygen and the death of certain fish.

Priority Substances can also be toxic to water-based organisms and this competition is part of a concerted effort to protect our water environment.

A total of up to £400k (inc VAT) is allocated to phase one of the competition. On successful completion of the feasibility study, a total of up to £400k (inc VAT) is allocated to phase two of the competition for prototype development.

This competition forms part of a wider of programme, the Green Growth Group, set up to support and develop green growth and a circular economy in Scotland. The Green Growth Group is jointly administered by Scottish Enterprise and SEPA.

Economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), supported by InnovateUK, has worked in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Water Industry Team to fund this SBRI competition for Scotland. Other supporting and advising partners include Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Water, and Scottish Enterprise.

Calum Davidson, director of Energy and Low Carbon at HIE, said: “HIE is delighted to be project managing this SBRI competition for Scotland. It is recognised that some of the most innovative companies employ fewer than ten people. SBRI allows the public sector to engage with these smaller organisations to develop technology solutions for emerging issues and challenges being faced by the public sector, not just in Scotland, but the world over.

“Nutrient recovery and the management of chemicals in our environment are growing ever more important and this competition could be an excellent way of putting a spotlight on a growth opportunity for business.

“The Scottish Government also welcomed the launch of the SBRI competition as another key step in developing Scotland as a Hydro Nation – a nation that not only values and protects its water assets, but grows the water sector too. We are delighted to see this first ever, cross agency, SBRI competition being taken forward to support developments in the water sector and look forward to working to exploring new ideas and approaches.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland commenting on the organisation’s involvement in this initiative said: “This SBRI competition is designed to encourage businesses to technology solutions to recover phosphorus and/or priority substances from the water environment and, where possible, put these recovered materials to beneficial use.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for Scotland as this competition could lead to Scotland becoming a more circular economy, and help SME’s access global opportunities.”

Stephen Browning, head SBRI: “This is a fantastic start to 2015 with Scotland launching their first SBRI competition to drive innovation in the water sector.”


Notes to Editors

The competition opens on 12th January 2015 and will close on 11th March 2015.

Further details on the competition and how to apply will be posted on the website on 12th Jan:

Two launch events are planned for January to provide businesses with further information on the competition subject and to answer questions about the process.

Organisations interested in attending the Edinburgh event should register their details with Diane Duncan, HIE’s head of Low Carbon and Environmental Clean Technology no later than 25/01/2015.

The venues are as follows:

12th Jan
Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Fraser House, Friar’s Lane, Inverness, IV1 1BA

29th Jan
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Old High School, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ

About Zero Waste Scotland

  • Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan and other low carbon and resource efficiency policy priorities.
  • Zero Waste Scotland is helping Scotland to become more efficient in its use of resources. As a facilitator and enabler of change, we help to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and promote responsible water use – all as part of a journey towards a low-carbon, sustainable economy.
  • Zero Waste Scotland has six key delivery priorities for 2014-15. These are: Supporting a circular economy; Harnessing the value of recycling; Transforming attitudes to food waste; Reducing the impacts of litter; Implementing resource efficiency savings; Accelerating the development of low carbon heat.
  • More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at .

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – we’re the UK’s innovation agency, accelerating economic growth. We know that taking a new idea to market is a challenge. We fund, support and connect innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth.

For further information visit our website at

About the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping.

For further information visit our website at

About Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an economic and community development agency delivering the Scottish Government’s economic strategy across a region which covers more than half of Scotland.

With around 300 staff, HIE supports hundreds of client businesses and social enterprises; strengthens communities, particularly in fragile areas; develops key sectors, and invests in infrastructure to create a more competitive and low carbon region.

Our priority sectors for growth include Energy, Life Sciences, Food and Drink, Creative Industries, Tourism, Financial and Business Services and Universities.

You can visit our website at

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Highlands and Islands Enterprise contact details….

Contact: HIE Communications
Phone: 01463244238