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We fund cutting-edge research into the application of biotechnology to deliver enhanced, scalable solutions for carbon sequestration

The application of biotechnology to carbon removal

We are inviting applications for funding into new methods of carbon sequestration, which have their roots in nature, but which could be scaled significantly using biotechnology. We are interested in projects targeting carbon removal from the atmosphere into both terrestrial and ocean systems. We believe the application of innovative synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and genomics tools across our identified challenge areas offers significant potential in the field of Carbon Dioxide Removal.

Our recent Call for Proposals has closed. Please keep in contact for news of our future Call for Proposals.

Our Current Research Priorities

Metabolic engineering in plants

Improving photosynthetic efficiency in higher plants and algae by optimizing key enzymes, creating novel photorespiration bypass routes or carbon fixing pathways, or adapting other elements of the photosynthetic machinery or plant architecture to sequester more carbon.

Soil carbon sequestration

Investigating the potential of soil carbon sequestration, adapting the root-soil ecosystem, exploring symbiotic relationships with microbes and fungi and the sequestration potential of archaea.

Engineering of photosynthetic organisms

Understanding photosynthetic organisms and their role in carbon sequestration. Engineering of faster growing strains of algae, bacteria or fungi, those that produce a higher proportion of carbon in their biomass or co-cultivation with carbon concentrating organisms.

Ocean carbon removal

The application of biotechnology to increase the ocean’s ability to remove and store carbon.

Biotech-enhanced weathering

Investigating colonies of microorganisms, plants, lichens and fungi that co-exist in local ecology to speed up dissolution rates. Promotion of bio-enhanced mineralisation through engineering of sub-surface microbiota.

Key documents

CTRF is a global funder. Researchers in higher education institutions or public or not-for-profit research establishments are eligible to apply for a CTRF grant.  Projects can be up to 36 months in duration and request up to £1M funding. Key application documents, policies, eligibility criteria and guidance can be found below.

Call for Proposals

Call for Proposals

Standard Terms & Conditions

Standard Terms & Conditions

Conflicts of interest policy

Conflicts of Interest Policy

Budget Template

Detailed Budget Template

Indirect Costs Policy

Indirect Cost Policy

Justification of Resources

Justification of Resources

Application Form

Download our application form

Key information about CTRF’s funding strategy

Am I eligible for CTRF funding?

CTRF is a global funder; we aim to fund the highest impact research programmes. Researchers in higher education institutions or public or not-for-profit research establishments are eligible to apply for a CTRF grant. Please see CTRF’s standard terms and conditions for research grants. Eligible principal investigators for a CTRF standard research grant must be at least one of the following:

  • employed at the administering research organisation at equivalent to lecturer-level or above (tenure-track).
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project and the host organisation is prepared to provide all the normal support available to permanent employees.

Is my research programme in scope?

CTRF invests in cutting-edge research on the application of biotechnology to deliver enhanced, scalable solutions to carbon dioxide removal and to a lesser extent other greenhouse gasses (GHGs) such as methane and nitrous oxide. CTRF is interested in projects which target carbon removal from the atmosphere into both terrestrial and ocean/freshwater systems. Key research challenges have been identified by CTRF: Metabolic engineering in plants; engineering of photosynthetic organisms; soil carbon sequestration; and biotech-enhanced weathering (suggest rocks with algae picture). CTRF are particularly excited about the application of cutting edge biotechnology tools in synthetic biology and genomics to these challenge areas.

What do CTRF expect to see in proposals?

Proposals should address research challenges identified by CTRF. Proposals should:

  • Be adventurous and ambitious, demonstrating high impact potential in the carbon dioxide removal space.
  • Propose a credible methodology and pathway to impact, whilst demonstrating awareness of the inevitable challenges associated with scale-up of these biotechnologies.
  • Detailed plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with relevant stakeholders such as industry or government.
  • Demonstrate credibility in the assembled team

What funding is available for individual projects?

In 2023 there is up to £4M available for grants. It is anticipated that CTRF will fund up to 7 projects.

CTRF will fund the direct costs of the research plus a contribution to eligible institution overheads at a rate of 10%. Please refer to CTRF’s Indirect Costs Policy for information on how to calculate this appropriately. Projects are expected to be no more than 36 months in duration.

Equipment under £10,000 in value (including VAT) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Equipment Costs’ heading and a single quote should be provided as part of your application. Any individual items of equipment over £10,000 which will be utilised to deliver the proposed research should be discussed with CTRF in advance of application and further guidance will be provided.

Are project partners allowed?

Commercial, government or third sector project partners are welcomed. Each project partner should be able to demonstrate a clear interest in the project achieving outcomes and impacts relevant to its business or mission. Project partner engagement must demonstrably extend beyond an advisory role, such as by providing direct investment to support a project research activity or in-kind support, for example access to equipment or other resources or employee time allocated to research activities. Project partners are unable to receive any funding from CTRF to achieve their project deliverables.

How do I apply?

You must apply to CTRF using the specific call Application form, returning to by the call deadline. In addition to the application form, other key documents for submission are indicated in the call text.

How will my application be assessed?

Full proposals will be subject to internal checks at CTRF to ensure fit to remit of the call. Applicants will be notified if their proposal has been rejected at this stage.

Full proposals will then undergo peer review, this involves assessment by relevant independent experts, identified by CTRF, who will score the proposal against the assessment criteria and provide written commentary. During the intent to submit stage, you will be asked to nominate 3 reviewers from different organisations with the expertise to review your proposal. It is likely we will select one of your nominations, alongside further reviewers identified by CTRF. Please also identify any potential conflicts to CTRF during the intent to submit phase, we will take these into consideration during the peer review process.

You will receive a copy of the reviewer comments and be given the opportunity to provide a written response. Please note the turnaround time required for rebuttal will be strictly enforced at 7 days. CTRF reserves the right to reject proposals at this stage if reviews are unsupportive.

CTRF’s Advisory Council will meet to discuss your application, the written reviews and your rebuttal, subsequently assigning the proposal a numerical score against the assessment criteria. The Advisory Council will then produce a rank ordered list of proposals and make funding recommendations to the CTRF Board.

Assessment criteria used by peer reviewers are indicated in the call text.

Stay Informed

Keep in touch with news from our projects and funding updates and insights from CTRF