Zero Emission Propulsion CR&D
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £10 million for net zero propulsion innovative projects. This funding is from Innovate UK.
- Competition opens: Monday 17 October 2022
- Competition closes: Wednesday 7 December 2022 11:00am
This competition is now closed.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with industry to invest up to £10 million in innovation projects.
As part of the Future Economy Net Zero programme, this competition will focus on net zero propulsion. This programme will support the government’s drive for zero emission transport and systems as part of the net zero commitment for 2050.
Your proposal must align to the scope of this competition.In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Your project’s total costs must be between £250,000 and £1.5 million.
Who can apply
Your project must:
- have total costs between £250,000 and £1.5 million
- have a maximum project duration of 18 months
- start by 1 August 2023
- claim the grant funding by 31 March 2025
- carry out all of its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
You must only include eligible project costs in your application.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.
If your total project’s costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to email@example.com at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be a UK registered business of any size
- collaborate with other UK registered organisations, academic institutions, research and technology organisations, charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
- be or involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- Academic institutions, research and technology organisations, charities, not for profit organisations and public sector organisations cannot lead a project.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.
The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding when entering their costs during the application.
Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.
You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.
You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.
All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.
Number of applications
A business, can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.
If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.An academic, research technology organisation (RTO), charity or public sector organisation can collaborate on any number of applications.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
We will not award you funding if you have:
- failed to exploit a previously funded project
- an overdue independent accountant’s report
- failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)
This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.
EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.
If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.
You must at all times make sure that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to, or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.
If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.
Up to £10 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.
If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.
For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 35% if you are a large organisation
For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.
If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 20% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.
Of that 20% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
- 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation
The aim of this competition, as part of the Innovate UK funded net zero mobility programme, is to support future propulsion technologies for the transport sector.
We will fund collaborative research projects covering propulsion technologies only. Your project must demonstrate significant improvements in net zero propulsion technologies which may apply across multiple transport modes.
The programme aims to build on previous sector specific mobility programmes by creating a cross-sector platform. You are encouraged to apply your knowledge and capability to adjacent transport sectors including automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail.
Your project must focus on one or more of the following transport sectors:
- Maritime: Clean maritime technologies for all sizes and categories of maritime vessel are in scope. Solutions can be suitable for one target size of vessel or multiple. Leisure and commercial vessels are in scope.
- Rail: Technologies can target all locomotive classes including those for freight and passenger carrying services and carriages.
- Automotive: Technologies can cover both niche and mainstream on and off-road vehicles. This includes categories L (mopeds and motorcycles only), M (car and passenger carrying) and N (goods vehicles). Construction vehicles and special use vehicles such as emergency vehicles (for example, ambulances and fire engines), refuse collection vehicles, and recreational vehicles (for example, motorhomes) are also eligible. There are restrictions on the use of hydrogen combustion.
- Aerospace: Technologies for drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), advanced air mobility (AAM), electric or hybrid passenger aircraft.
Your project must address one or more of the following:
- improved range and overall system performance capability
- decreased total cost of ownership
- adoption of and transition to zero emission end products
- strengthening of the UK supply chain
Your proposal must demonstrate a need by including an end customer such as Tier 1 or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) within your consortium. They can be a funded partner or non-funded project adviser.
You will be required to demonstrate a strong route to market position as part of your application.
Your project must:
- develop on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies that deliver net zero solutions, speeding up their introduction to the market.
- develop technologies for new or retrofit applications, focused on highly integrated vehicle systems and cost reduction
- justify how the technology achieves overall vehicle efficiency, as individual part or component improvement is not in scope, unless there is also consideration of overall system impact
- deliver commercial, societal and environmental impact from your innovation
- benefit the UK plc, for example by growing and securing the UK’s supply chain, increasing capability, whilst improving productivity, efficiency and competitiveness
- evidence that your solutions are closely aligned with industry priorities to deliver business orientated opportunities
- significantly improve overall vehicle or vessel efficiency and lifecycle CO2 emissions
- if applicable, validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example in a testbed, through a development mule or an adapted current production vehicle or vessel for higher maturity technologies
Your proposal can describe how you will manage:
- the circularity of the materials used and end of life pathways for example, reuse and recycling
- compliance with regulation and how you will work with relevant regulatory bodies for novel technologies in the future
- the production and commercialisation of your technology at a price the market is willing to pay
By the end of your project, you must deliver a technology advancement. This must advance your innovation to between experimental proof of concept and validation in a relevant environment.
We want to fund a variety of projects across different technologies, markets and technological maturities. We call this a portfolio approach.
Your project must advance technologies in one or more of the following areas:
- electric propulsion technologies
- fuel cells for electric propulsion
- PEMD (power electronics machines and drives) systems for electrified powertrains for vehicles, locomotives or vessels
- energy storage technologies (excluding batteries) and energy management software and controls
- integration (system or component level) of electric propulsion technologies
- range extenders that are zero emission and do not emit greenhouse gases, this can include on vehicle energy generation
- on platform fuel storage, including hydrogen tanks
- hydrogen internal combustion engine technologies, with restricted use on certain applications such as non-road applications
- energy efficient electrification for traction and non-traction rail vehicles, and bi-mode locomotives (hydrogen and battery powered)
- wind propulsion, including soft-sail, fixed-sail, rotor, kite and turbine technologies
Projects we will not fund
We are not funding projects that:
- do not address net zero mobility propulsion
- are battery developments, for example, battery materials or cell development
- are fuel or energy vector developments, such as sustainable fuels, synthetic fuels, bio-based fuels, manufacturing of fuels, including the production of hydrogen or ammonia
- are for off-vehicle technologies such as vehicle or vessel charging solutions
- are based around internal combustion engines (ICE) which emit greenhouse gases (GHG) or hybrid engines which include GHG emitting components
- focus on micro mobility
- have materials development or light weighting the platform (for example materials or light weighting on the platform which is not part of the propulsion system or vehicle structures)
- are manufacturing technologies for new propulsion systems
- are auxiliary systems, for example, refrigeration units
- are propellor or propulsor design which does not include any other aspects of integration
- are business as usual and do not demonstrate significant innovation
- do not benefit the UK
For projects focused on hydrogen combustion, we cannot fund projects, where the transport application falls into the one or more of the following classifications:
- light commercial vehicles under 7.5t, category N, O 1 to 3
- buses of any weight or size classification, category M2 and M3
- motor caravan, campervan, motorhome
- lorries (trucks), 2 axles or more with a maximum gross weight (tonnes) of 7.5 or above
- special purpose vehicle including emergency response vehicles
We cannot fund projects that are:
- dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
- dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product
- 17 October 2022
- Competition opens
- 20 October 2022
- Online briefing event: register to attend
- 7 December 2022 11:00am
- Competition closes
- 13 January 2023
- invite to interview
- 13 February 2023
- interviews start
- 17 February 2023
- Interviews end
- 24 February 2023
- Applicants notified
Before you start
You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.
Before submitting, it is the lead applicant’s responsibility to make sure:
- that all the information provided in the application is correct
- your proposal meets the eligibility and scope criteria
- all sections of the application are marked as complete
- that all partners have completed all assigned sections and accepted the terms and conditions (T&Cs)
You can reopen your application once submitted, up until the competition deadline. You must resubmit the application before the competition deadline.
What we ask you
The application is split into 3 sections:
- Project details.
- Application questions.
Accessibility and inclusion
Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.
We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.
If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 15 working days before the competition closing date.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
If your application passes the first stage of assessment , you will be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place online. The date and time of your interview will be included in your invitation.
Before the interview and by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:
- must send a list of who will attend the interview
- must send your interview presentation slides
List of attendees
Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 5 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.
- Your interview presentation must: use Microsoft PowerPoint
- be no longer than 20 minutes
- have no more than 20 slides
- not include any video or embedded web links
You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.
After your presentation the panel will spend 30 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.
After your interview
The panellists will individually score your application and these will be averaged for your overall interview score. This score will supercede the one you received from initial assessment unless stated otherwise in the competition brief. We will notify you whether you have been successful or not by email and you will receive feedback on your interview within a week of notification.
1. Project details
This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.
Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.
Give your project’s title, start date and duration.
Select the type of research you will undertake.
Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign the right experts to assess your application.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
Describe your project in detail and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.
Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be sent for assessment. We will tell you the reason why.Your answer can be up to 400 words long.
2. Application questions
The assessors will score all your answers apart from question 1. You will receive feedback for each scored question. Find out more about how our assessors assess.
You must answer all questions. Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.
Question 1. Applicant location (not scored)
You must state the name and full registered address of your organisation and any partners or subcontractors working on your project.
We are collecting this information to understand the geographical location of all applicants.
Question 2. Need or challenge
What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?
- the main motivation for the project
- the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
- whether you have identified any similar innovation and its current limitations, including those close to market or in development
- any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
- the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate
Question 3. Approach and innovation
What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?
- how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
- how will you improve on the similar innovation that you have identified
- whether the innovation will focus on existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
- the freedom you have to operate
- how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
- how it will make you more competitive
- the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified
You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 4. Team and resources
Who is in the project team and what are their roles?
- the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
- the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
- the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
- if your project is collaborative, the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
- any roles you will need to recruit for
You can submit one appendix with a short summary of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 5. Market awareness
What does the market you are targeting look like?
- the target markets for the project outcomes, any other potential markets (domestic, international or both)
- the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
- the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
- the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
- the current UK position in targeting these markets
- the size and main features of any other markets not already listed
If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:
- what the market’s size might be
- how your project will try to explore the market’s potential
Question 6. Outcomes and route to market
How are you going to grow your business and increase long term productivity as a result of the project?
- your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
- your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
- your route to market
- how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
- how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
- how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
- your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project
If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:
- your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
- how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities
Question 7. Wider impacts
What impact might this project have outside the project team?
Describe and, where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:
- external parties
- others in the supply chain
- broader industry
- the UK economy
Describe and, where possible, measure:
- any expected impact on government priorities
- any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
- any expected regional impacts of the project
Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:
- quality of life
- social inclusion or exclusion
- jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
- public empowerment
- health and safety
Question 8. Project management
How will you manage your project effectively?
- the main work packages of your project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
- your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
- the management reporting lines
- your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones
You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 9. Risks
What are the main risks for this project?
- the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks
- how you will mitigate these risks
- any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, and data sets
- any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this
You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF, up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 10. Added value
How will this public funding help you to accelerate or enhance your approach to developing your project towards commercialisation? What impact would this award have on the organisations involved?
- what advantages public funding would offer your project, for example, appeal to investors, more partners, reduced risk or a faster route to market (this list is not exhaustive)
- the likely impact of the project outcomes on the organisations involved
- what other routes of investment you have already approached
- what your project would look like without public funding
- how this project would change the R&D activities of all the organisations involved
Question 11. 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?
In terms of your project goals, explain:
- your total project costs
- the grant you are requesting
- how each partner will finance their contributions to your project
- how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer
- how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise
- the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
- any subcontractor costs and why they are critical to your project
Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.
Background and further information
This competition is part of the Net Zero Mobility Programme. It will advance innovative propulsion and digital technologies to enable the future movement of people and goods from one location to another. This will be through means that are:
- net zero
- cost effective
This programme is focused to support an identified critical need in the UK’s innovation ecosystem for mobility. It responds to this need by:
- bridging a funding gap between fundamental science and commercial applied research
- providing a mechanism to accelerate the technology readiness level (TRL)
This will be from the commercial application of fundamental and basic science research (low TRL) through to applied development and technology demonstration (mid TRL). The output from the programme is linked with the existing innovation ecosystem for mobility that enables scale up and increased investment support for commercialisation, this includes both private and public investment sources.
Successful mobility innovations have the potential for significant impact for the UK and additional benefits through export to other regions.
At the end of the programme a critical success factor is to have secured:
- propulsion and digital technology
- business advancement (via related EDGE support)
- a pathway for further mode-specific support within the innovation ecosystem
This will aid the UK in maintaining its global position for the development, testing and supply of net zero mobility. Including the development and supply of skills, expertise and knowledge for partners and suppliers nationally and globally.
Impact and evaluation
Innovate UK will work with projects awarded grants or contracts, to implement a new impact and evaluation framework. Your project will be required to collect and report key metrics and data as specified by the programme and in line with the centralised evaluation framework. This will include the collection of both evidence and counterfactual data to support impact and attribution claims.
You will be required to work with Innovate UK to analyse and interpret the data using the techniques specified in the evaluation plans, to support the production of reports at an agreed annual reporting schedule.
You will be briefed on the specific metrics and evidence following notification of your award. For planning, forecasting and budgeting purposes, each organisation within a consortium will be expected to allocate 3 working days to supporting this requirement over the life of the project.
You will also be asked to respond periodically to further requests, following your project’s conclusion, recognising Innovate UK’s obligations, and the benefits of evaluating impact over time.
This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (each an 'agency).
Any relevant information submitted and produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.
This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to DfT or BEIS and vice versa. This would include, but is not restricted to:
- the information stated on the application, including the personal details of all applicants
- scoring and feedback on the application
- information received during the management and administration of the grant, such as Monitoring Officer reports and Independent Accountant Reports
Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.
Find a project partner
If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Innovate UK KTN.
Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE
If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.
These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.We encourage you to engage with Innovate UK EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.
If you are successful with this application, you will be asked to set up your project.
You must follow the unique link embedded in your email notification. This takes you to your IFS Set Up portal, the tool that Innovate UK uses to gather necessary information before we can allow your project to begin.
You will need to provide:
- the name and contact details of your project manager and project finance lead
- a redacted copy of your bank details
- a collaboration agreement
- an exploitation plan
In order to process your claims, we need to make sure that the bank details you give to us relate to a UK high street bank that is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). The account must have a BACS clearing facility and be in the same company name as your application.
If you have any doubts that your bank account will not meet Innovate UK's funding criteria, you can use the sort code checker. If you input the sort code and find a tick next to the ‘BACS Direct Credit payments can be sent to this sort code’, this will give you an indication that the bank account you hold is acceptable.
We will carry out checks to make sure you are an established company with access to the funds necessary to complete the project.
You must check your IFS portal regularly and respond to any requests we have sent for additional information to avoid any delays.
Failure to complete project setup may result in your grant offer being withdrawn.
Your Grant offer letter (GOL)
Once you have successfully completed project setup, we will issue your GOL.
The GOL will be made available on your IFS portal. You will need to sign and upload this before you start your project.
Your GOL will show the start date for your project, do not start your project before this date. Any costs incurred before your start date cannot be claimed as part of your grant.
If your application is unsuccessful
If you are unsuccessful with your application this time, you can view feedback from the assessors. This will be available to you on your IFS portal following notification.
Sometimes your application will have scored well, and you will receive positive comments from the assessors. You may be unsuccessful as your average score was not above the funding threshold or your project has not been selected under the portfolio approach if this is applied for this competition.
If you need more information about how to apply or you want to submit your application in Welsh, email email@example.com or call 0300 321 4357.
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