Funding competition Connected and autonomous vehicles simulation: collaborative R&D

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £15 million to develop simulation technologies that speed up the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


In its industrial strategy, the government outlined its ambition to have self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021.

To help meet this ambition the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), in partnership with Innovate UK, is to invest up to £15 million in industry-led projects. These will use holistic simulation and modelling systems to develop approval mechanisms and standards. This work will support the development and deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, and help make sure they will receive approval in the future.

This competition is for collaborative research and development (R&D) projects. It is the first stage of CCAV’s approach to enhancing the UK’s testing ecosystem through simulation and modelling. Project teams should consider how their proposal will enhance the UK’s testing ecosystem.

In 2019, CCAV and Innovate UK expect to run a further capital investment competition to support simulation and modelling for CAV testing, regulation and deployment. Details will be released at a later date.

All projects must be collaborative and business led, and the research and development (R&D) must be conducted in the UK.

If your project size falls outside of our scope, contact Innovate UK before you apply.

Funding type


Project size

We expect projects to have total costs from £500,000 to £5 million and last up to 2 years.

Who can apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK based business, of any size
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base and third sector)

For all research organisations the total level of project participation is set at 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding projects covering the simulation and modelling of modes of transport other than automotive, such as rail or marine. However, we will consider simulations of how connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) interact with the wider transport system.

We are not funding projects focused on other aspects of technology related to connected and autonomous vehicles. We expect to run other CAV competitions in 2018.

Funding and project details

We have allocated up to £15 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

We are looking to fund industry-led projects.

We encourage applications that involve a range of companies in the CAV sector, from simulation and modelling experts to vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Project types

For industrial research projects you could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Find out if your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Competition scope

CCAV and Innovate UK will fund a small number of projects focused on holistic simulation and modelling systems. These must speed up the development and deployment of CAVs, and support the design of regulatory approval regimes that will be needed to deploy CAVs on public roads.

It is not realistic to test every combination of sensor input and driving situation. However, regulators and manufacturers need to be confident that the vehicle control system (VCS) can operate effectively at a whole system level across the full range of situations it is likely to encounter.

Physical testing involves a limited number of use cases on a defined set of test routes. It is difficult to calculate the number of miles an autonomous vehicle (AV) would have to drive to test all situations, but it is generally accepted this would be expensive, time consuming and impractical.

Simulation, modelling and testing has the potential to fill this gap and enable the rigorous, controlled and timely evaluation and development of VCSs.

Projects must:

  • develop a holistic simulation and modelling system that tests and stretches VCS capability, which will build confidence in a vehicle’s decision-making
  • focus on simulation and modelling to enable the deployment or regulation and approval of autonomous on-highway vehicles, off-highway vehicles or pods (L, M or N category vehicles)
  • support the development of solutions for the simulation of level 4 automation and above as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), if they are focused on either producing autonomy or on supporting autonomy through connectivity
  • set out how they will work with existing physical testing facilities in the UK in their technical approach
  • develop detailed plans for further commercial exploitation of the results
  • by February 2019, provide an interim report on potential opportunities to exploit further capital investment. This is in order to develop a capability which will enhance, and potentially become part of, the UK’s CAV testing ‘ecosystem’
  • include a final report and a dissemination plan
  • share lessons with other projects through workshops, organised every 6 months by Innovate UK and CCAV

Innovate UK reserves the right to apply a portfolio approach to this competition. The portfolio will be spread across a range of scope areas, state aid categories, project durations and project costs. This is to fit the spend profile of this competition.
15 January 2018
Competition opens
16 January 2018
Briefing event for applicants.
2 May 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
25 May 2018
Invite to interview.
30 May 2018
Feedback for interview applicants.
7 June 2018
Response to feedback and presentation submission deadline.
18 June 2018
19 June 2018
20 June 2018
21 June 2018
22 June 2018
4 July 2018 3:23pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

Please read the general guidance for applicants. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application.

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite:

  • colleagues to contribute to the application
  • other organisations to participate in the project as collaborators if your application is successful

Partner organisations can be other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 4 sections:

1. Project details

2. Application questions

3. Finances

4. Interviews

1. Project details

Explain your project. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits with the scope of the competition. If it doesn’t, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and length. List any partner organisations you have named as collaborators.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could be before you start your project.

Project scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

2. Application questions

In this section, answers to these questions are scored by the assessors. Following assessment, you will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1: Need or challenge

What is the business need, citizen challenge, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

  • describe the main motivation for the project; the business need, the citizen-centric challenge (e.g. for Urban Living proposals), technological challenge or market opportunity
  • describe the nearest current state-of-the-art (including those near-market or in development) and its limitations
  • describe any work you have already done to respond to this need. For example is the project focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one?
  • identify the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural and/or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity for example, incoming regulations. Our Horizons tool can help here

Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

  • explain how you propose to respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • explain how it will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • indicate where the focus of the innovation will be in the project (application of existing technologies in new areas, development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach) and the freedom you have to operate
  • explain how this project fits with your current product/service lines/offerings
  • explain how it will make you more competitive
  • describe the nature of the outputs you expect from the project for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design. How will these will take you closer to targeting the need, challenge or opportunity identified?

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

  • describe the roles, skills and relevant experience of all members of the project team in relation to the approach you will be taking
  • describe the resources, equipment and facilities required for the project and how you will access them
  • provide details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • (if collaborative) describe the current relationships between the project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • highlight any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You may submit a single appendix as a PDF no more than 1MB in size to support your answer.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Specify the markets (domestic and/or international) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets.

For the target markets, describe:

  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by appropriate references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the market such as customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the main supply/value chains and business models in operation and any barriers to entry
  • the current UK position in targeting this market

For highly innovative projects, where the market may be unexplored, explain:

  • what the route to market could or might be
  • what its size might be
  • how the project will seek to explore the market potential

For other markets, briefly describe the size and main features

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How do you propose to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

  • describe your current position in the markets and supply/value chains outlined for example, if you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • describe your target customers and/or end-users, and the value proposition to them (why would they use/buy it?)
  • describe your route to market
  • tell us how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • explain how the innovation will impact your productivity and growth in the short and long-term
  • describe how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project for example, through know-how, patenting, designs, changes to business model
  • outline your strategy for targeting the other markets identified during or after the project
  • for any research organisation activity in the project, outline your plans to disseminate project research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • if you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities, describe how you will do this

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Identify, and where possible measure, the economic benefits from the project to those outside the project (customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy) such as productivity increases and import substitution.

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected social impacts, either positive or negative, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion/exclusion
  • jobs (safeguarded, created, changed, displaced)
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity
  • any expected impact on government priorities

Identify, and where possible measure, any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative.

Identify any expected regional impacts of the project.

Question 7: Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

  • outline the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category and lead partner assigned to each, and the total cost of each one
  • describe your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used to ensure a successful project outcome. Highlight your approach to managing the most innovative aspects of the project
  • outline the management reporting lines
  • outline your project plan in sufficient detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You may upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

  • identify the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks. Highlight the most significant ones, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • explain how these risks will be mitigated
  • list any project inputs on the critical route to completion such as resources, expertise or data sets
  • is the output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical or other similar issues? If so how will you manage this?

You may upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no more than 1MB in size.

Question 9: Additionality

Describe the impact that an injection of public funding would have on this project.

  • tell us if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make such as faster to market, more partners, reduced risk
  • describe the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • tell us why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding (what would happen if the application is unsuccessful)
  • explain how this project would change the nature of research and development activity the partners would undertake, and related spend

Question 10: Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

  • justify the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • explain how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • explain how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer. How does it compare to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • justify the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • justify any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation to complete project costs, organisational details and funding details for each organisation in your project. Academics will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

4. Interviews

Collaborative research and development applications that are successful at the written stage will be invited to attend an interview. Presentations should be a maximum of 20-minutes in length, with a maximum of 20 free-format slides. This will be followed by 30-minutes of questions and answers.

Presentations should use MS PowerPoint, 4:3 aspect ratio. Please do not include any video or embedded web links.

Before the interview your presentation slide pack needs to be formally submitted to Innovate UK. This should be on the date stated in the notification email. No changes may be made to the presentation after this date.

A maximum of 9 attendees from your project may attend the interview panel. Please submit names to Innovate UK prior to the panel. The consortium should select the most appropriate people to attend. We recommend that each consortium member organisation is represented.

You will be expected to answer questions based around the questions in the application form, and your response to feedback.

You may provide a written supplementary response to the assessor feedback ahead of the interview panel. This should be up to 10 A4 pages in a single pdf or MS-Word document. You can include charts or diagrams. This is intended to answer any issues raised from the written assessor feedback.

Please make sure that your selected representatives for the interview presentation are available on all published dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Background and further information

CCAV is a joint policy unit set up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport. CCAV was established to help make the UK a world leader in developing and testing CAVs. It aims to achieve this in part through £100 million of funding, which will be match-funded by industry. This is to support industry-led research and development over 5 years.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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