Innovate UK has announced 15 innovative new projects to improve resource and energy efficiency in foundation industry companies and supply chains.

The projects, in towns and cities nationwide, have secured funding of £1.2 million from the transforming foundation industries challenge.

They will focus on resource or energy efficiency in the foundation industries or their immediate supply chains, which will help the companies to adapt and prosper in response to their customers’ increasing demands for more sustainable products.

The competition, delivered by Innovate UK, ran in two strands with the aim of improving the competitiveness of the foundation industry sector by helping it to become more environmentally sustainable.

Strand one of the competition was aimed at smaller companies who had realised they needed to develop new technology, but may not have previously considered applying for Innovate UK support. In this category, 12 companies have been awarded grants for projects of up to £75,000.

In addition, three applicants in strand two have been awarded grants for projects of up to £250,000 to undertake larger collaborative cross-sector innovation projects.

Some of the projects being funded are exploring incremental improvements in product or process design. However, others could just be at the beginning of something bigger, innovative or that challenges the status quo.

Jafar Daji, technical manager of Parkinson-Spencer Refractories Ltd in Halifax, said: “[Our] production is energy intensive so faces many challenges that are common across the foundation industries. As part of our business strategy, we see the need to support the decarbonisation of the industry, which is why we welcome the support of Innovate UK for companies like ours.”

And Bruce Adderley, challenge director of Transforming Foundation Industries added: “We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the ambition of what these pioneering companies are hoping to achieve, and by the sheer variety of solutions that there are for making the materials that don’t pollute the planet.

“Unless our foundation industries can produce the basic materials more sustainably, then there’s little chance that our economy that is built on these materials can make the changes that it needs to.”

The Transforming Foundation Industries programme is supported by UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and delivered by Innovate UK. It will help energy-intensive businesses to share expertise and come up with radical new innovations to help reduce their carbon footprint.

The programme will inject significant new public and industry innovation funding into the foundation industries, helping deliver against a vision of a cutting edge, innovative and sustainable industrial sector. £66 million will be provided by the government and £83 million will come from industry.