International Supply Chain Accelerator: Product Carbon Footprint Measurement

Using advanced digital technology to achieve greater adoption of carbon accounting within the global supply chains


The International Supply Chain Accelerator: Product Carbon Footprint Measurement is a part of the Made Smarter Innovation | Digital Supply Chain Hub programme. This project aims to support UK technology innovators and startups in identifying and addressing industry challenges to promote greater adoption of carbon accounting.

The Partnership for Carbon Transparency (PACT) is a global leader in promoting a standardised approach to carbon measurement across supply chains and brings together over 1000 companies to establish a common approach. Sponsored by Unilever and in collaboration with the members of the PACT Technology Working Group and GS1, this project aims to develop solutions that will demonstrate the business case for carbon accounting for thousands of businesses.

Applications close:

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Challenge briefs

We invite innovators and start ups to apply to one of the following challenges:

  • Challenge Area 1: Secure and standardised data store for Product IDs

    Aim: Searchable common data store for standardised product IDs.

    A common data store is needed to be able to act as a product ID library where GS1’s GTIN product identifiers will be organised into the “URN format” in line with the PACT tech spec. These URN Product ID can then be mapped or cross-referenced to companies’ existing product IDs. Special consideration should be paid to the creation of a solution that is distributed or decentralised and avoids a single point of failure. This common data store will need t0 to deliver the below:

    Key outcomes:

    • Provide a simple, common way for IDs to be formatted in line with the PACT Technical Specification.
    • A measurable demonstration that the solution actually solves the problem of product ID mapping more efficiently than manual product ID mapping.
    • Have a lookup functionality to assist users with their searches to align existing product IDs to the URN format.
    • Manage complex and diverse product IDs across sectors and supply chain tiers.
    • Interaction with other tech platforms.
  • Challenge area 2: Efficient and secure PCF access and visibility

    Aim: To implement an efficient mechanism to share PCFs between systems of different organisations.

    Once a PCF is generated, it often needs to be shared between buyer and supplier in a secure way. This means that, in order to support a diverse market, PCF exchange cannot simply be mandated through one platform, but between platforms. This challenge therefore explores what technology approaches could be deployed, leveraging the Translation layer capabilities, to enable this PCF exchange between platforms at scale.

    Expected outcomes

    • Easy onboarding set up for organisations to view the PCFs.
    • High levels of data security for access of PCFs by only authorised organisations.
    • Transparency of provenance and traceability of PCFs end to end across the product lifecycle with the ability to view and share PCFs across platforms.
    • Efficient and fair governance and operational processes involved in the management of PCFs (issuance, visibility and revocation) amongst the organisations.
    • The solution needs to be an overlay of enhancement (or be complementary) to the existing PACT conformant solutions (giving the ecosystem additional benefits) and shall not contradict or cause friction with the existing PACT conformant solutions.

How to apply and next steps

  1. Applicants must apply via the application form. 
  2. As part of the application, you will be asked to demonstrate that you meet the programme requirements for the challenge open call.
  3. Once you start your application you will have until 23:59 BST on Friday 12th of July 2024 to submit your application. Once submitted you will not be able to make any edits.
  4. If you wish to apply for more than one challenge area with the same technology solution, please make this clear in your application. If an organisation wishes to apply with more than one technology solution, please submit an additional application form per solution.

Should you require any assistance with the application you can reach out to to explore the suitability of your idea for the challenges. You can also join us for Circle discussions and collaborate with industry experts by signing up today and asking in the Digital Supply Chain Hub.

Roles & responsibilities

The role of the solution provider, industry challenge owner and industry body

Solution provider

Solution provider will receive grant funding of £125,000 and support to develop a solution addressing one of the supply chain challenges set up by the industry challenge owner.

Industry challenge owner

Industry challenge owner is a large industry player with a global impact and strong reliance on supply chains. They set up and define a supply chain related challenge that they are currently facing and guide the solution development process.

Industry body

Industry bodies are overseeing the solutions development process, providing guidance, expertise and introductions to their networks to ensure that solutions that are being developed during the programme are aligned with the industry priorities and regulations.

Who’s involved


Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company renowned for its vast array of household and personal care products. With a rich history spanning over a century, it has grown into one of the world’s largest and most influential corporations.



GS1 is a neutral, global collaboration platform that brings industry leaders, government, regulators, academia, and associations together to develop standards-based solutions to address the challenges of data exchange.  With local Member Organisations in 116 countries, over two million user companies and 10 billion transactions every day, they help ensure that there is a common language of business across the globe. 

Why should you get involved?

Participants on the programme will receive the following benefits:

MVP funding

Up to £125,000 in grant funding to develop a challenge focused minimum viable product (MVP) and supporting material within the timeframe of the project. 

Technical support

Collaborate with technology and subject matter experts from Digital Catapult, industry body representatives and industry challenge owner who will support the development of the participants’ solutions/MVPs.

Digital supply chain hub

Upon successful completion of the project, the participant will have the opportunity to join the future digital supply chain hub and connect with the wider supply chain ecosystem and build further collaboration opportunities.


Opportunity to participate in the programme networking events, roundtables and introductions to industry leaders, investors and potential customers.

Pitch training

One-to-one pitching sessions with a coach to support each company to practise, build the narrative and script for the final showcase event.

Showcase event

Be part of the programme showcase event in March 2025 to present your solution in front of investors and supply chain industry stakeholders.

Assessment Criteria

Strength and Originality of the Solution 25%

The applicant should demonstrate that their solution is realistic, well-developed and adds value to the ICO in the context of the chosen challenge. Applicants should show a good understanding of the problem highlighting the relevance of the solution to the chosen challenge. The solution should also be shown to leverage advanced digital technologies where applicable and also is reasonably achievable in practical terms. The solution should be estimable in the Technology Readiness Level of  4-5.

Team Experience 25%

The team demonstrates that they are equipped with the appropriate technology and business skills, and show strong evidence that they can develop and deliver the proposed solution within the timeframe and budget/funding of the programme.

Technical Feasibility 25%

The proposed solution is at the TRL 4-5 level, with potential for progression to TRL 6-7 at the end of the programme. The technical delivery of the proposal is feasible and provides a clear added value to the ICO. All evidence is outlined in a well thought through Product Development Roadmap.

Growth Potential 25%

The solution demonstrates the potential for scalability, beyond the lifecycle of the programme.The idea is likely to be suitable for further funding stages of development and commercial agreements.

Programme requirements

Terms and conditions

Frequently asked questions

  • What counts as co-investment for this project?

    How co-investment works: we are providing programme participants with the £125,000 worth of funding and they need to demonstrate that solution they are developing will be worth (cost) £125,000×2=£250,000. (50:50 split). That value could come from various sources such as resources, materials, licenses, as illustrated in the picture below.

    What co-investment are we looking for?

    Co-investment from industry and technology partners is a requirement of the funding

    There are various categories of co-investment which can be considered:

  • What are the key dates of the programme?
    • Open Call – Applications Open – Tuesday 11th of June
    • Open Call – Application Deadline – Friday 12th of July
    • Judging – Phase 1: Assessment – week commencing 15th of July
    • Judging – Phase 2: Interviews – week commencing 29th of July
    • Intended notification of all Applicants – week commencing 5th of August
    • Intended public announcement of successful Participants – week commencing 12th of August
    • Programme – Start Date: September 2024
    • Programme – End Date: March 2025

    Note: Dates and activities can be subject to change. Digital Catapult will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible to applicants/participants should any changes arise.

  • How will I receive the funding through the International Supply Chain Accelerator?

    Funding will be awarded in pounds sterling (GBP) into a UK business bank account associated with the entrant organisation.

    Each company is funded with £125,000 to develop solutions that address the Industry Challenge Owner challenges.

    The funding will be allocated to each successful onboarded applicant based on the conditions outlined in the Programme T&Cs.

    Participants shall receive the grant as Minimal Financial Assistance (“MFA”), or to the extent applicable under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the de minimis aid regulations (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1407/2013), collectively referred to herein as “State Assistance.

    The total State Assistance received or due to be received by an individual Participant (including any associated companies e.g. subsidiaries), originating from a United Kingdom source, must not exceed £315,000, or €200,000 (approximately £165,000) for Northern Ireland Companies (or any other company subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol), each in aggregate across the Participant’s current fiscal year (as at the Agreement Date) and the previous two fiscal years.

  • Who can apply?

    The International Supply Chain Accelerator Open Call 2 – Product Carbon Footprint Measurement is welcoming applications from startups and innovators that are able to address industry challenges around standardisation and exchange of the Product IDs set up by Unilever in collaboration with Partnership for Carbon Transparency (PACT), GS1 and DEFRA.

    It is intended that the solutions of the tech innovators would leverage the cutting edge technology available in the industry. These technology areas are (including but not limited to): artificial intelligence; distributed ledger technology; advanced (distributed) identity solutions.

    Startups and SMEs should have an early-stage solution at the TRL 4-5 and be able to progress to the TRL 6-7 within the timeline of the programme.

    Key sectors that we are targeting include: Sustainability and Carbon Accounting & Reporting.

  • At what stage will the solution be agreed upon with the industry challenge owner?

    Within your application form, you will submit a concept / proposed solution to the challenge. This is the application form that will be used to select the ideas that progress and join the programme. Applications will be judged and selected by a team of technology and industry experts from across Digital Catapult, industry challenge owner and industry bodies. If selected, once on the programme you will be able to work with the industry challenge owner to further understand the problem and develop your solution.

  • What level of technical maturity are we looking for?

    Startups and SMEs should have an early-stage solution at the TRL 4-5 and be able to progress to the TRL 6-7 within the timeline of the programme.

    A key objective of the International Supply Chain Accelerator is to support innovators to progress through this TRL framework, as well as prepare the programme cohort to further scale their solutions beyond the Challenge, for example by providing a pathway to working directly with industry challenge owners or getting investment ready after the programme.  

  • What if I am involved in another accelerator programme, or have been involved in a previous Digital Catapult programme?

    Participating or having participated in accelerator or other technology adoption support programmes does not exclude you from taking part in the International Supply Chain Accelerator, as long as the timings do not cause a conflict of interest and you are eligible to receive the state aid as outlined in the T&Cs.

    If you have been part of any previous Digital Catapult programme you are welcome to join. For other programmes, your participation will be dependent on the terms of the programme itself and what you have agreed to in the terms and conditions.

  • Does my organisation need to be UK based or can I collaborate with international contributors?

    Collaborations may include international contributors, but to complete the programme (i) the team must have an establishment in the UK, and (ii) the majority of work should be carried out in the UK and teams need to be able to commit to attending the workshops, kick-off event and final showcase.

  • Will International Supply Chain Accelerator take any equity in the startups?

    No. International Supply Chain Accelerator is equity-free and there are no fees associated with participation.

  • Can I receive preliminary feedback on my application before submission and if unsuccessful?

    Unfortunately not, to ensure a fair judging process and due to the high volume of applications we expect to receive, we are not able to work with you or feedback on applications prior to completion. Please refer to our selection criteria to understand what we expect to see from applications.

    If your application is not successful for the programme, we cannot provide feedback to all our applicants, but we will let you know the outcome either way.

    If you have taken part in the interview phase but your application is unsuccessful then yes. The companies which do not qualify for the prototype development but went through the interview selection process will receive relevant feedback from Digital Catapult on the scoring and technical requirements.

Chat with the International Supply Chain Accelerator team

If you haven’t found an answer to your question, please contact or book a 15-minute slot with the project team. You can also join us for Circle discussions and collaborate with industry experts by signing up today and asking in the Digital Supply Chain Hub.

Get involved with our current opportunities

Digital Supply Chain Innovation Funding Opportunity

This open call looks to develop solutions to issues that have arisen in three critical areas; data governance, reporting and verification of emissions across the food supply chain, and cybersecurity vulnerability. Applications are invited from companies interested in working with programme collaboration partners from the Digital Supply Chain Hub ecosystem.