Funding competition Meridian 3: autonomous highway, rural and parking test facilities

UK businesses and research and technology organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million to create the second phase of the UK connected and autonomous vehicle test ‘ecosystem’.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) will invest up to £25 million in partnership with Meridian Mobility and Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. This is to develop CAV testing infrastructure for autonomous parking and autonomous driving on rural roads and highways.

The aim is to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem. This should be located in the defined geographical area, between the West Midlands and the South East as detailed in the competition scope.

CCAV expects to support up to 6 projects. Preference is given to projects that prove they can deliver operational facilities that complement or build on existing facilities within the UK CAV eco system.

Projects will be supported through investment aid for research infrastructures. This is a type of state aid that allows grant funding to support the construction or upgrade of research facilities.

If your project costs or duration fall outside of our scope, contact us before you apply.

To help establish the UK CAV development ecosystem rapidly, this competition is being run in parallel with Meridian 2: connected vehicles data exchange, which opens and closes on the same dates.

Funding type


Project size

Your total project costs must be between £1 million and £20 million, depending on which theme you concentrate on. Projects should start by March 2019 at the latest and be fully operational in 12 to 18 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project work in the UK, delivering a facility in the defined geographical area
  • commit to exploit the results from the UK
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)

The lead organisation must claim funding through this competition. You should make it clear why the lead is the most appropriate organisation to lead the project.

Projects may include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.


CCAV have allocated up to £25 million to fund up to 6 infrastructure projects in this competition.

We anticipate that the funding will be split as follows:

  • up to £4 million to support one controlled test environment project
  • up to £16 million to support up to 2 continuous public test environment projects
  • up to £2 million to support one controlled parking test facility project
  • up to £3 million to support up to 2 public parking test environment projects

You may apply for funding support of:

  • up to 50% of your eligible project costs if you are a business of any size
  • up to 100% of your eligible project costs if you are a non-profit distributing research organisation.
Non-profit distributing research organisations must demonstrate how match-funded investment will be contributed. It must at least equal the grant funding and can include maintenance costs. We will give preference to projects that meet match funding within the 12 to 18 month build phase.

Your project must have:

  • at least a 30% industry contribution to the initial investment
  • at least a 50% industry contribution up to 10 years from the start of operation

You must carry out economic activity and track the use of assets funded through this project. Teams must supply Innovate UK, CCAV and Meridian Mobility with regular updates through their monitoring meetings.

Your project must have overall match funding from industry. If some project partners are grant funded above 50%, other partners must provide non-government investment in the facility. This does not have to happen during the project, but must be evident within 10 years from the start of operation of the facility. The overall grant funding must not exceed 70% of the eligible costs at the end of the project. See the guidance for applicants for an example.

All collaborators on your project must contribute 4% of the value of the grant received to the running costs of Meridian Mobility. This is not a claimable cost. Further details can be found in the guidance for applicants

State aid

This competition uses a different state aid scheme from normal Innovate UK competitions. Your project is expected to focus on ‘investment aid for research infrastructures’.

Support given for construction or upgrade of research infrastructures that perform economic activities is considered to be state aid (please see page 41 of this document).

Your proposal

The aim of the Meridian competitions is to continue to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ‘ecosystem’.

Your proposal must work with existing automotive test facilities, proving grounds and public road test sites across the Midlands and South East. It must improve existing capabilities and create new ones. We expect all projects to complement and integrate with the existing Meridian test facilities funded in 2017.

Meridian Mobility, CCAV and Innovate UK wish to establish an ‘ecosystem’ of projects to work together and with existing projects, which will set the UK’s facilities apart from others.

If your project uses public roads it must work with road owners and operators such as local authorities and Highways England as part of the design and delivery phases.

Your project must be globally significant and allow for:

  • testing of autonomous vehicles in appropriate, realistic and increasingly challenging environments
  • connectivity capabilities and methodologies that allow for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) testing
  • testing of equipment that may interact with CAVs, for example, roadside infrastructure

Example customers and test scenarios could include:

  • CAV manufacturers developing and validating their devices and vehicles
  • telecoms companies validating new communications hardware
  • mobility-as-a-service companies testing new business models
  • SMEs testing underpinning AV technology

Your project must provide core infrastructure that can support modular units to test different equipment. It must be ‘future proofed’ as far as possible.

Your proposal must include test scenarios supported by a business model. Explain how the test facility will replicate as many scenarios as possible (ideally every possible scenario).

We will prefer facilities that support ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) compatibility with features such as non-manual charging. These should require no more than 5% of the total grant. Additional private funding can be used for ULEV facilities but should not form part of the grant request. This funding is for the CAV testing capability.

Preference will be given to proposals that use existing test facilities. This will minimise costs and give confidence in the proposed business model. You must provide evidence of board-level support from the facilities.

Meridian Mobility, Innovate UK and CCAV will strategically review the proposals. You must work with Meridian Mobility as part of joint governance of the UK CAV Testbed ecosystem during the build phase and the lifetime of the facility.

Test facility location

All test facilities must be in the defined area. Research has identified this as a UK area of excellence for CCAV innovation. It contains some of the UK’s leading automotive test facilities, including many projects supported by CCAV.

The competition aims to encourage and support a cluster of test facilities within the defined area.

This defined area is a rectangle that covers part of the West Midlands through to the South East. Its 4 corners are:

  • the north-west of Leicester
  • Basildon
  • south of Guildford
  • north-west of Worcester

Facilities may be anywhere within this area, including:

  • Coventry
  • Royal Leamington Spa
  • Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Northampton
  • Milton Keynes
  • Oxford
  • Luton
  • London
  • Reading
  • Croydon
  • Guildford

If your test facility site falls just outside this area, or you have any other concerns, please email or call 0300 321 4357 to discuss your options at least 10 days before the competition deadline.

Project business plans and personnel

Your project must submit a collaboration agreement and demonstrate good value for money. Projects must sign up to the Meridian Mobility Charter detailed in the guidance for applicants.

Your project must agree to work with Meridian Mobility to deliver a joined up group of UK testing facilities. Each funded facility will be expected to work as part of the UK CAV test ecosystem in partnership with Meridian Mobility.

We prefer facilities that support vital CAV technologies with cross-sector applicability, for example agriculture, public transport or drones. Your application must demonstrate how the facility is ‘customer friendly’ for all, including international customers. Identify facilities to support testing, such as secure garages and general logistics.

Projects are judged on their business model and must have a realistic plan for creating and committing to a long-term operational facility. Your business model must include marketing, operation and maintenance for at least 10 years beyond the end of the initial investment period. The completed facilities must operate commercially, with users paying a market rate. They must be open to several users on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis, including SMEs.

Your proposal must include a schedule that details milestone costs and what public investment you are seeking.

Data management and IT

Each facility must deploy protective security (cyber, physical and personal). It must use consistent and secure data management, communication tools and processes.

Public environments and controlled facilities funded through this competition should make generic data collected during testing, discoverable and available (but not necessarily free) to third party researchers and developers.

Meridian 2 funding supports a data exchange to provide comprehensive data collection, storage and management. Each funded facility could work with the data exchange and contribute towards a national CAV ecosystem.

Proposals should detail which data and technology standards they have chosen and why. Justification could include matches to national or international standards, or other industry facilities and this should be evidenced. You must also show how you will obtain any appropriate licences or approvals for frequencies.

If 5G is part of your proposal, you must work with the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme managed by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

Specific themes

You must follow one of our 4 themes:

  1. Controlled test environments for highways: we are looking to fund one controlled test facility that represents highways and the common features of road junctions.
  2. Continuous public test environments: we are looking to fund 1 or 2 continuous public test environments, including highways and rural roads which connect to existing urban test sites.
  3. Controlled parking test environment: we are looking to fund a realistic, controlled test facility representative of the current and future infrastructure needed for automated parking.
  4. Public parking test environments: we are looking to fund 1 or 2 public test environments focused on developing the infrastructure needed for autonomous parking.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects across these themes. We reserve the right to alter the funding between themes as needed.

For all themes, there may be some benefits to linking the controlled facilities, the public environment facilities and existing Meridian test facilities. Linked proposals will be considered favourably if they save costs, improve outcomes or enable collaboration with other UK CAV projects.

Each public test facility must:

  • have a ‘digital twin’, a computer replica of the facilities, processes and systems, or make all topographical data available to allow users to create a digital twin
  • make available to the user all transient environment data necessary to reconstruct any event in a virtual environment, such as location, velocity and the basic nature of any interacting road user or transient object on the roadway, and all weather and light conditions

Each controlled test facility must:

  • be safe and secure
  • allow ‘corner case’ testing, when multiple variables are simultaneously at extreme levels, which is hard to do outside dedicated facilities
  • replicate real-world conditions
  • be demonstrably representative of the target environment in the UK, and other appropriate target CAV markets
  • include options to anticipate and test faults in the system
  • have available suitable test equipment such as other vehicles (CAV or non-CAV) and the ability to simulate other road users or objects, for example, pedestrians, cyclists, road cones
  • make available to the user all transient environment data necessary to reconstruct scenarios in a computer simulation, including weather and light conditions

Project types

We will fund investment aid for research infrastructure projects only.

Projects we will not fund

In this competition, we are not funding:

  • projects that do not meet the scope of this competition
  • crash and extreme condition handling facilities
  • emissions testing, which should be managed separately or can be included but will not be eligible for funding
  • facilities which substantially replicate existing facilities
  • industrial research, experimental development or feasibility study projects

4 June 2018
Competition opens
11 June 2018
Applicant briefing event.
29 August 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
5 September 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
21 September 2018
Invite to interview.
15 October 2018
Interview panel.
16 October 2018
Interview panel.
17 October 2018
Interview panel.
18 October 2018
Interview panel.
9 November 2018
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending the briefing event listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

External, independent experts will assess the quality your application. We will then select the projects to fund, building a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • address the range of themes as described in the scope
  • represent the potential for return on investment for the company and the UK

Subject to meeting the quality threshold, we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to achieve the correct balance of projects and funding.

Please use Microsoft Word. If you use Google Docs or any other open source software your application will be ineligible.

Background and further information

The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) is a joint policy unit set up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Transport. CCAV was established to help ensure that the UK is a world leader in developing and testing connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

CCAV will enable the government to create this policy fast enough for rapidly developing technology. Our aim is to maximise its economic and social benefits without compromising safety, security or privacy.

We are providing over £250 million in funding, matched by industry, to position the UK at the forefront of CAV research, development and use. This will contribute to UK economic growth and help industry to develop safe, efficient systems for moving goods and helping people get around.

Mobility has been established by government and industry to support the integration and co-ordination of UK CAV development facilities and speed up the UK’s emerging CAV sector, Meridian will invest in projects that foster a culture of open innovation, bringing together the best of business and government to deliver cutting edge CAV development infrastructure. Meridian will focus on the most important areas of UK capability, including validation, connected environments, data, cyber security and new service development.

This competition and the Meridian 2 competition build on the projects funded in 2017 as part of Meridian 1 (which was known as CAV Test Bed at the time).

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

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