Funding competition IDP 15: the road to zero emission vehicles, R&D

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £16 million to research and develop technologies that accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) will work with Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £16 million in research and development (R&D) projects.

This is to enable industry-led research into on-vehicle technologies that accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles in the UK and globally. This is part of the 15th competition in the Integrated Delivery Programme (IDP) series.

A separate £2 million is available for feasibility study projects and a further £4 million to support a single large research and development project.

We are looking for projects to develop low-cost, highly integrated systems that enable zero emission journeys for cars and other vehicle types. In this round we are particularly looking for projects that deliver innovative power electronics, machines and drive technologies. You must identify technical or commercial challenges developing zero and zero emission capable technologies on vehicles. This can be for any of the vehicles listed in the scope, which range from motorbikes and passenger cars to buses and large trucks.

All projects must be a collaboration between at least 2 grant claiming partners. The lead must be a UK business.

If your project’s total costs or duration fall outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Funding type


Project size

Your total project costs should be between £250,000 and £4 million. Projects must start by June 2019 and end by June 2022. They can last between 12 months and 3 years.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • work in collaboration with other businesses, research organisations or third-sector organisations

To lead a project you must be a UK based business, of any size.

A UK business must be eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.

Multiple applications

Any one business can lead on multiple applications and collaborate on any number of further applications. There is no limit on the number of applications a business or other eligible entity can be involved in.

Partners with no funding

Projects can 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.


We have allocated up to £16 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Innovate UK reserves the right to dedicate a large proportion of this funding (approximately £11 million) to power electronics, machines and drives projects. These technologies are considered a strategic area of importance for the UK and future zero emission vehicles.

Around £5 million will be used to support projects in developing innovative products which meet the remaining technologies in scope for IDP 15.

For research and development projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or 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 micro or small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under the General Block Exemption Regulation. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

The Department for Transport recently published the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy. Its mission is to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacture of zero emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. IDP 15 will support this mission by funding ultra-low and zero emission on-vehicle technology development.

We use the definition of zero emission from ‘Road to Zero’ which defines zero emission as having tailpipe emissions of less than 50g of CO2 per km. IDP 15 projects that meet this definition for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will be considered.

On-highway and off-highway vehicles category L, M, N and O (trailers for HGVs), T, G and emergency vehicles are all in scope.

Across IDP 15 we are looking to fund projects that address one or more of the following technical areas:

  • power electronics, machines and drives
  • energy storage and energy management
  • lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures
  • highly disruptive zero emission technologies

We would like to see projects which include or focus on advances in power electronics, machines and drives for automotive applications.

Technologies in scope include:

  • the electrification of conventional powertrains in passenger cars, such as waste heat recovery systems and hybridisation
  • e-powertrains solutions where the project does not include costs related to any conventional engine R&D work
  • minor costs related to integration of a zero emission technology with a conventional engine for demonstration purposes
  • hydrogen projects where the technology focuses on fuel cell development or the use of hydrogen for the production of electricity

Hybridisation technologies must focus solely on increasing the capability of the electrified or non-internal combustion engine element of the powertrain.

Other projects in scope include:

  • zero emission technologies that are focused on exploitation routes on conventional powered vehicles, such as light weighting projects
  • auxiliary power systems, such as for refrigeration or trailer equipment
  • projects that focus on electrifying trailer units
  • projects that deliver significant emissions benefits via aerodynamic improvements for HGVs

Projects which focus on battery technology are eligible to apply for funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge, research and development, round 3 competition. Battery projects which do not meet the scope of Faraday Battery Challenge round 3 can apply for funding under IDP 15 provided they meet the scope outlined.

We encourage a range of projects that cover both niche and mainstream on-road vehicle applications.

Projects must:

  • develop on-vehicle technology, speeding up its introduction to the market
  • focus 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
  • validate the technology in a relevant environment, such as a mule or adapted current production vehicle
  • define appropriate representative real-world operating conditions, and a suitable comparator technology or vehicle against which the project will measure the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) baseline and improvements
  • provide evidence that the durability, integrity and safety of any technology proposed is in line with industry expectations
  • show that you can realistically produce the technology at a price the market is willing to pay when commercialising
  • show how the future supply chain will be developed, such as including appropriate Tier 1 and/or Tier 2 suppliers in your consortium
  • show a clear route to market including appropriate business models to exploit the technology commercially
  • be mindful of the wider environmental impact of the technology including resource efficiency and end of life options such as recycling, remanufacturing and/or reuse

A requirement of funding for R&D projects is that the consortium includes an appropriate end customer. This is to show that the technology meets clear customer specifications. There is a particular interest in projects that include vehicle manufacturers, Tier 1 or Tier 2 suppliers, but this is not a fixed requirement.

At the end of an R&D project, you must have:

  • a physical demonstrator
  • a report showing the emissions reduction the technology can achieve on implementation
  • details of the cost of the system showing the commercial payback period
  • performance results demonstrating the viability of the technology, to give confidence for consideration on new vehicle programmes

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of zero emission technologies, markets and technological maturities in all 3 competitions.

HGV and off-highway

For vehicles over 7.5 tonnes (heavy goods vehicles) or in the off-high way classification projects must as a minimum, deliver significant emissions savings and must focus on the future delivery of zero tailpipe emissions. This includes electrification of the main vehicle power source.

Innovate UK has the right to prioritise projects that deliver zero emissions.

Projects that address well to wheel (life cycle) savings for HGVs will also be in scope. HGV projects will be considered for all use cycles including urban, regional and trunking.

Specific themes

  1. Zero emission passenger cars.
  2. Significant electrification of conventional engines to bring emissions as close to zero as possible.

Project types

We will fund R&D projects focused on industrial research and experimental development.

Please see the general guidance to help you decide which category your project fits in.

Projects we will not fund

In this competition we are not funding projects covering:

  • dedicated internal combustion engine projects
  • business as usual projects which maintain the status quo or do not demonstrate innovation
  • zero carbon fuels
  • vehicle charging

17 September 2018
Competition opens
20 September 2018
Briefing event recording.
10 December 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
25 January 2019
Invite to interview.
18 February 2019
To 22 Feb: interview panels.
12 April 2019 4:03pm
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 collaborate in the application (and in the project if your application is successful)

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


If your application is successful at the written stage you will be invited to attend an interview, where you will need to give a presentation.

Your presentations must use Microsoft PowerPoint and be a maximum of 20 minutes long, with no more than 20 slides. Please do not include any video or embedded web links. This will be followed by 30 minutes of questions and answers.

You must submit your presentation slides to Innovate UK by the date stated in the email we will send inviting you to an interview. You will not be able to make any changes to the presentation after this date.

Up to 9 people from your project can attend the interview panel. Agree with your consortium who will attend, ideally one person from each organisation, and send us their names by the date stated in the invitation email. Make sure they will be available on all of the published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

You will be expected to answer questions based on your application form and the assessor feedback from the written stage.

You will have the opportunity to provide a supplementary written response to the assessor feedback, answering any concerns raised by the assessors. This can be up to 10 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document. It can include charts or diagrams. This must be submitted to Innovate UK by the date stated in the invitation email.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Application details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Application 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 does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration. Is the application a resubmission?

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. List any organisations you have named as collaborators. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

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 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 eligible for funding. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

Your answers to these questions will be scored by the assessors. You will receive feedback from the assessors for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers unless we have explicitly requested a link to a video.

Question 1. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, supply chain challenge, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the specific economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations. Apply them to your innovation where possible. Our Horizons tool can help with this

Question 2. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take, where will the focus of the innovation be and how does it meet the competition scope?

Describe or explain:

  • how your innovation responds to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how it will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified – to what extent does it move increase the capability of zero emission vehicles
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • in detail the innovation’s impact in respect to zero emission vehicles
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • the innovation’s current TRL and where it will be at project completion
  • 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 a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

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

Describe or explain:

  • 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 sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any gaps in the team that will need to be filled

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF no larger than 10MB and up to 4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

Explain the specific zero emission vehicle market(s) your innovation is targeting? We do not need a high level summary of the UK’s appetite for zero emission vehicles and the strategic case.

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • 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 route to market could be
  • what the market’s size might be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5. Outcomes and route to market

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

Describe or explain:

  • 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
  • any direct supply chain development in the UK and any re-shoring of manufacturing
  • 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 6. Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative.
  • sustainability benefits from resource efficiency and how the final product can be reused, remanufactured and/or recycled at end of life
  • 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
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 7. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category, the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used for 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 can upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how these risks will be mitigated
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how will you manage this?

You can upload a risk register as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • 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 and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the 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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their / your contributions to the 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 sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

The finances section asks each organisation in your project to complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academics will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. Detailed costs are confidential to each organisation however all participants will be able to see a summary of all partners’ costs.

For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

The government’s ambition is that all new cars and vans are effectively zero emission by 2040. Much progress has been made over recent years to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions from diesel and gasoline engines and this is expected to continue. Government support through the IDP 15 competition is focused on zero emissions and accelerating the uptake of zero emission vehicles.

The IDP is part of the network of support for the automotive industry available in the UK. The Research Councils provide support for fundamental science. The IDP provides support for proof of concept. The Advanced Propulsion Centre provides support for pre-commercialisation.

OLEV is a team working across government to support the early market for low and zero emission vehicles. OLEV is providing over £900 million to position the UK at the global forefront of zero emission vehicle development, manufacture and use. This will contribute to economic growth and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution on our roads.

Power electronics, machines and drives are integral to zero emission vehicles. Building on the UK’s strength in these areas is paramount if the automotive supply chain is to remain a global leader. New and highly disruptive technologies in these areas will also complement the innovations supported through the Faraday Battery Challenge. Together they will make up the main, most technically challenging cost of a future zero emission vehicle.

The Faraday Challenge website can give more information about batteries supporting the electrification of vehicles.

Extra help

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

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

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