AI solutions to sustainability challenges share £1 million as Manchester Prize names finalists

Greyparrot Insights
Finalists included Greyparrot Insights, which tracks waste in recycling plants to build a digital map of the packaging value chain.

After a nationwide search and entries from all corners of the UK, the Manchester Prize has awarded £1 million to ten teams of advanced AI innovators at Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery. The Manchester Prize is a multi-million-pound challenge prize from the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology to reward UK-led breakthroughs in artificial intelligence for public good.

Announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last Spring and launched in November 2023, The Manchester Prize calls on innovators, academics, entrepreneurs and disruptors to submit their ideas, particularly related to energy, the environment and infrastructure. It received almost 300 entries from UK-led teams, with ideas ranging from renewable energy solutions to advanced materials manufacturing, agritech innovations to transport management tools.

Many of the finalists are focused on using AI to solve sustainability challenges, including:

  • Greyparrot Insights (by – The Greyparrot AI waste analytics system “sees” and tracks every piece of waste entering a sorting or recycling plant via monitoring units positioned over conveyor belts. The AI identifies seven layers of detail about each waste item – including the material type, brand and carbon footprint based on its end of life – and does this faster, more accurately, and around 250 times cheaper than manual alternatives. It aims to create a complete digital map of the world’s waste flows to track what happens when waste is discarded and support the value chain to improve packaging design, policymaking and recycling rates.
  • Polaron: Accelerating the design of advanced materials with generative AI (by Polaron) – Developing advanced materials is a traditionally slow and inefficient process. Polaron uses AI algorithms to rapidly analyse potential material designs and identify the best manufacturing processes to maximise performance. Applied to battery electrodes, Polaron’s technology can yield a 10% increase in power, while reducing the cost by more than 50%, revolutionising battery manufacturing and unlocking the next generation of materials.
  • CRE.AI.TIVE (by Phytoform Labs) – With the impacts of climate change threatening global food security, Phytoform Labs uses its proprietary CRE.AI.TIVE platform to discover drought tolerant, disease resistant and yield boosting traits for a diverse variety of crops. CRE.AI.TIVE is a ‘foundational genomics model’, that learns about the genome of plants and accelerates the search for useful mutations to increase the resilience of crops.

The ten finalists – announced in late May – will each receive prizes of £100,000 to develop their solutions in the next eight months, as well as a package of support including up to £90,000 for compute, investor readiness, support scaling up, and access to a supporter network to advance their ideas to working prototypes capable of winning the £1 million grand prize in spring 2025.

To find out more about the Manchester Prize and follow the progress of all ten finalists, visit