Funding competition Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 2: Securing the future of ZEV

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £10 million to research and develop technologies to help secure future zero emission vehicles innovation.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 to UK industry, Driving Electric Revolution, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) are collaborating to invest up to £15 million in innovation projects that will support the UK’s continued push towards net zero.

This is part of a larger effort to catalyse the green economic recovery in transport, energy and industrial sectors.

There are two strands in this competition:

  1. Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 1: advancing PEMD supply chain
  2. Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 2: Securing the future of ZEV (this strand)

In this strand, OLEV is working with Innovate UK to invest up to £10 million in innovative feasibility studies and R&D projects. These are 6-month rapid-delivery projects to develop on-vehicle and charging technologies that will secure the future of the zero emission vehicles (ZEV) industry in the UK.

Projects must be ready to start on 1 October 2020.

The lead organisation must be a UK registered business.

The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your total eligible project costs must be between £100,000 and £500,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK registered business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. It is not possible to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UiD). If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Projects must start on 1 October 2020 and end by 31 March 2021. They can last up to 6 months with no extensions beyond this point.

Total project cost must be between £100,000 and £500,000.

Funding can only be claimed for project costs incurred no later than 31 March 2021.

We encourage single participant applications from UK registered businesses of any size.

A maximum of 2 collaborators are allowed for multiple participant applications.

Your R&D project must:

  • build on a project previously supported by Innovate UK which must have completed by 30 September 2020
  • benefit significantly from additional R&D funding
  • demonstrate funding costs are distinct and separate from any other project

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
Academic institutions and RTOs cannot lead projects.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • enter its costs into the Innovation Funding Service after being invited by the lead applicant.

Academic institutions must have their research personnel ready to start at the beginning of the project.

Single applicants and partners in collaborations must claim funding by entering their costs into the Innovation Funding Service during the application.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK/European Economic Area (EEA). We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any eligible UK registered business can lead on or be the single applicant on any number of applications and collaborate on any number of further applications.

An academic institution or RTO cannot lead on an application.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you have submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

If you submit a new proposal this time you will be able to use it in no more than one future competition that allows resubmissions.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, 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, and communicate it to you in writing


We have allocated up to £10 million to fund innovation feasibility studies and research and development projects in this strand of the competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for 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 50% if you are a large organisation

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 organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation

Research organisations undertaking non-economic activities as part of the project in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

This competition provides state aid funding under Article 25: ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

The Department for Transport’s Road to Zero strategy sets out a clear pathway to zero emissions and gives clarity and certainty to both industry and motorists. The strategy defines zero emission vehicles as those with no greenhouse gas or air pollutant tailpipe emissions.

Since 2009, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has considered an ultra-low emission vehicle to be a car or van that emits less than 75 grams of CO2 per km from the tailpipe measured against the European test cycle.

Given the advancements in technology over the past decade, OLEV expects new developments for these vehicles to reduce emissions to a much lower level. Therefore, we expect proposals for this competition to meet the definition for zero emission vehicles or to target emissions significantly lower than 75 grams of CO2 per km.

We want to fund a portfolio of feasibility studies and research and development projects, across a variety of zero emission vehicle technologies and technological maturities. Research and development projects must show a significant value-add and exploitation from the preceding feasibility study or collaborative research and development project with clear and distinctive scope and deliverables.

Your project must:

  • be able to continue the technology development in future research and development competitions
  • and/or be able to raise private sector investment to take the project outcome to market

We welcome applications for desk-based projects focusing on:

  • design, modelling and simulation of both sub-system and overall vehicle system (including charging), and their relative energy efficiency
  • business model development

On-vehicle technologies in scope

We are keen to see proposals which include or focus on advances in power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) for automotive applications. Technology transfer projects from other transport or energy sectors are welcome.

Projects on battery technologies are in scope in this competition. We are keen to see proposals in the following areas: advancement of battery performance for automotive applications (including HGVs) across the battery value chain (cell materials, cells, modules and packs); tools to improve efficiency of battery design, manufacture, testing, monitoring and diagnostics; battery recycling.

Technologies in scope include:

  • electrification of conventional powertrains (or electrified powertrains) where the project does not include grant funded activities related to any conventional engine R&D work, but can include minor costs related to the integration of a zero-emission technology with a conventional engine for demonstration purposes
  • hybridisation technologies which focus on increasing the capability of the electrified or non-internal combustion engine element of the powertrain
  • technologies that significantly increase the efficiency of the powertrain or auxiliary systems
  • hydrogen technologies that focus on fuel cell development or the use of hydrogen for the production of electricity

Range extender technologies

It is recognised that to accelerate electric vehicle uptake, user anxiety around the range of electric vehicles still needs to be addressed. One way this can be achieved is by using alternative vehicle propulsions or electricity generators that allow for extended mileage in long trips.

New and advanced range extender (REX) technologies that provide a source of propulsion but achieve a significant reduction in the current grams of CO2 per km from the tailpipe over the relevant legislative cycle are in scope for this competition. The vehicle must be capable of driving at full power on the zero-emission technology only. The range extender must not be capable of propelling the vehicle at full power by itself. The zero-emission range should be at least 70 miles, although we will prioritise projects with a zero-emission range of 100 miles.

Vehicle types

We encourage projects that cover both niche and mainstream on-road vehicles.

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

Projects for medium and heavy good vehicles (over 7.5 tonnes) must provide significant emission reduction and focus on the delivery of zero tailpipe emissions. This includes electrification of the main vehicle power source and use of hydrogen fuel cells. Projects that address well to wheel (lifecycle) savings for HGVs will also be in scope. HGV projects will be considered for all use cycles, including urban, regional and trunking.

EV Charging

EV charging projects are in scope in this competition.

For feasibility studies, we are keen to see proposals in the following areas: EVSE supply chain, EV data, advanced grid services, services integration, roaming, standards and interoperability, procurement, fleet and HGV charging solutions.

For R&D projects, we will accept proposals in the following areas: EV charging services and integrations, business models for OnStreet, Wireless and/or V1G/V2G.

R&D Project requirements

Your project must:

  • add demonstrable value to the outcomes of your previous project
  • develop on-vehicle or EV charging technologies, speeding uptheir introduction to the market
  • focus on highly integrated vehicle/charging systems, parts and/or cost reduction
  • justify how the technology improves overall vehicle/charging efficiency and lifecycle efficiency.
  • validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example through a mule or adapted current production vehicle for higher maturity technologies
  • where applicable 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.
  • show a clear route to market including appropriate business models to exploit the technology commercially
  • show a reduction of the environmental impact of the technology including resource efficiency and end of life options such as recycling, remanufacturing and/or reuse
  • identify an appropriate end customer(s) or route to commercialisation.

Specific themes

Your on-vehicle project can focus on one or more of the following technical areas:

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

Research categories

We will fund feasibility studies, industrial research and experimental development projects, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund:

17 June 2020
Competition opens
22 June 2020
Register for online applicant briefing 1 pm to 4 pm
29 July 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
24 August 2020 9:33am
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. Project details

This section sets the scene for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

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

Research category

Select the type of research you will undertake.

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.

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. Describe clearly the impact of this project on the ZEV industry and the wider environmental and socio-economical bearing. 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

The assessors will score your answers. You will receive feedback from the assessors for each answer.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers.

Question 1. Equality, diversity and inclusion (not scored)

We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

You must complete this EDI survey and type ‘EDI survey completed’ within your answer. The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

Question 2. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, 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 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?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • how your project is providing value-add
  • if this project relates to a project previously supported by Innovate UK, please state that project number
  • 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 technology readiness level and where it will be at project completion
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • 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 including charts and diagrams to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. 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 are taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including appropriate sub-contractors who you 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 roles you need to recruit for

You can submit one appendix describing the skills and experience of the main people working on the project to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like? We do not need a high level summary of the UK’s appetite for zero emission vehicles or 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 to 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 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 7. 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 8. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the 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 and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. 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
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • 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 you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. 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 a faster route to market, more partners or 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
  • provide the risk return analysis for the project

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?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs and the grant you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how each partner will finance their 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

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic institutions 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.

Background and further information

This is strand 2 of a 2-strand competition.

In strand 1, Catalysing Green Innovation- advancing PEMD supply chain, up to £5 million will be available to facilitate UK supply chain and manufacturing growth in power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD).

The Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge was launched in July 2019 by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The ISCF provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers. The fund is designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the government’s Industrial Strategy and is being administered by UK Research and Innovation.

Driving the Electric Revolution is an investment of £80 million over 4 years. It was set up to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy. The challenge aims to create world leading supply chains in the UK and expertise for the manufacture of Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD) across 7 sectors, namely;

  • aerospace
  • automotive
  • energy (generation and distribution)
  • industrial drives and robotics
  • maritime
  • off highway
  • rail

This is part of a larger effort to catalyse the green economic recovery in transport, energy and industrial sectors.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)’s mission is to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles. By 2040 the Government aims for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission and to bring about an end to the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans. By 2050 they aim to make almost every car and van in the UK strictly zero emission.

The transition to zero emission vehicles will help UK meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and contribute to reducing poor air quality in towns and cities, as well as contribute to UK economic growth by generating skilled jobs in the automotive sector.

Extra help

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

Enterprise Europe Network

If you are a UK SME and successful in receiving an award, you will be contacted by your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Innovation Advisor. They act on behalf of Innovate UK to discuss the growth opportunities for your business.

They offer bespoke business support services to help you maximise your project and business potential. This service forms part of your Innovate UK offer under our commitment to help UK SMEs grow and scale.

Please engage positively with your EEN contact so that, working together, you can determine the most appropriate form of growth support for your business.

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

Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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