Funding competition ATF: moving the UK automotive sector to zero emissions

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £10 million for feasibility studies to support industrialisation of the UK’s high-value electrified automotive supply chain.

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Competition sections

Description

The Automotive Transformation Fund is delivered by:

  • the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)
  • Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

  • Department for International Trade (DIT)

(Text edit 13 July 2020: we have included the full list of Automotive Transformation Fund partners.)

Together these partners will support the industrialisation at scale of a high-value electrified automotive supply chain in the UK. APC is seeking proposals from single organisations or consortiums for feasibility studies up to the value of £1.5 million.

APC is looking for projects in the following areas, or in other appropriate areas aligned to the aim of the Automotive Transformation Fund:

  • product scale up feasibility
  • process and facility scale up feasibility

Your project must focus on both of the following:

  • making it easier to scale up in the UK
  • building supply chains in the UK

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

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your total eligible project costs can be up to £1.5 million.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK registered business claiming grant 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. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance on state aid.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs up to £1.5 million
  • start on 1 November 2020
  • end by 31 March 2021
  • last between 3 and 5 months

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration fall outside of the above criteria, you must contact the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) directly on +44(0)24 7652 8700 at least 10 days before the competition closes. APC will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

Non-UK registered companies and research organisations are eligible to apply for funding as a lead or part of a project team if they:

  • set up an active UK registered business before they start their project
  • start their project on 1 November 2020
  • carry out all funded work in the UK
  • meet all other criteria stated above.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation, research and technology organisation (RTO) or a non-UK registered company or research organisation
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on the project. Partners must enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

Non-UK partners receiving funding must set up and provide evidence of an active UK registered business before they start work on the project.

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 eligible project costs.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the world. We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

There are no restrictions on the number of applications an eligible organisation can lead or partner on. Should you be successful, we will ask you to confirm you have the capacity to run multiple projects simultaneously.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

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've 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

Funding

As part of the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) has allocated up to £10 million to match fund feasibility studies in this competition.

You must request the minimum amount of funding needed for your project.

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 projects, you could get funding of:

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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

Of that 30%, research organisations in the consortium could get funding for their eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if they are an academic institution
  • 100% of their eligible project costs if they are an RTO

If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

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 your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Your proposal

The Automotive Transformation Fund will support the industrialisation at scale of a high-value electrified automotive supply chain in the UK. More information on Automotive Transformation Fund can be found on the APC website.

The aim of this competition is to support commercially led research and development in the design of elements of the electric automotive supply chain. Projects must focus on both of the following:

  • making it easier to scale up in the UK
  • building supply chains in the UK

Your project’s primary focus must be the automotive market.

Your project can focus on technological improvements or developing new business models. APC encourages projects that bring new investment and new businesses into the sector in the UK.

Your project must fulfil one or more of the following:

  • de-risk scaling up innovative technologies across the electric supply chain
  • remove the technical or commercial barriers to manufacture in the UK
  • support the overall aim of the Automotive Transformation Fund to establish a competitive and sustainable UK supply chain

APC is particularly looking for projects that support the UK’s long-term supply chain, associated capabilities and growth aspirations.

At the end of the feasibility study, APC expects projects to be:

  • ready to continue in future research and development and or capital competitions

or

  • able to raise private sector investment to take the project outcome to market

APC want to fund a portfolio of projects, across the technologies listed in the specific themes section.

Specific themes

Your feasibility study can focus on one of the following scale-up opportunities, or on something else in the scope of this competition which meets the aim of the Automotive Transformation Fund.

Product scale up feasibility
You can either focus on one or more of the products below or on the materials and components that go into the product:
  • anode
  • cathode
  • vehicle platform and cell format
  • fuel cell
  • power electronics

Process and facility scale up feasibility

You can either focus on one of the processes named below or on the materials and components that go into the process:

  • battery manufacture
  • fuel cell manufacture

Research categories

We will fund feasibility studies, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • dedicated internal combustion engine projects
  • business-as-usual projects which maintain the status quo or do not demonstrate innovation
  • zero carbon fuels
  • vehicle charging
  • projects which do not meet the aim of the Automotive Transformation Fund
13 July 2020
Competition opens
22 July 2020
Online briefing: view recording
19 August 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
18 September 2020
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and 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.

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. 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.

Scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (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 (opens in a new window) 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, supply chain and technological challenge, and market opportunity behind your innovation? You should answer this question in the context of the Automotive Transformation Fund.

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, supply chain and/or technological challenge and 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 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

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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
  • 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
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you, your consortium and the UK 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. It can include diagrams and charts. 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 will be taking
  • if your project is collaborative, how it is suited to de-risking the scale up of your technology
  • 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
  • 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 to support your answer. This can include a short summary of the main people working on the project. 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? Both single applicant and collaborative projects should focus their answers on the attainable market.

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 might be
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • the UK economy

Economic benefits may be described as productivity increases, reshoring of manufacturing and import substitution.

If your project is collaborative, be specific to your consortium rather than referring to generic global opportunities for electric vehicle supply chain production.

Describe, and where possible measure, any expected positive or negative impacts on:

  • government priorities
  • the environment
  • the region you operate in
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education and skills development related to electric vehicle technologies
  • wider supply chain development outside the project itself
  • broader industry
  • 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 can 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 if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise or data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You can 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:

  • whether 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

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 the project goals, describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs
  • the grant you are requesting
  • 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, 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

Formed in 2013 the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) accelerates the industrialisation of technologies which help to realise net-zero emission vehicles. It is at the heart of the UK government’s commitment to end the country’s contribution to global warming by 2050.

Intended to support industrialisation at scale of a high-value electrified automotive supply chain in the UK, the Automotive Transformation Fund is a new programme delivered by the Advanced Propulsion Centre. Its aim is to establish a competitive and sustainable UK supply chain.

This Automotive Transformation Fund competition is formally delivered in partnership between APC, Innovate UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for International Trade (DIT).

APC will:

  • work with consortia to support bid development
  • support the competition process
  • act as advocates for consortia to improve future competitions
  • support project delivery once contracts are awarded, through APC staff
  • act as a source of guidance for consortia during the critical project start-up phase, and while projects are running, through APC-appointed project delivery leads
  • monitor the impact of the project portfolio

Innovate UK will:

  • deliver the competition process and technical assessment framework
  • support and manage applicant queries about the competition process
  • issue and manage grant contracts
  • provide formal assurance that projects are meeting their commitments once they are running (known as project monitoring)
  • approve financial claims and issue funds

BEIS will assess the benefit that the proposed project will deliver to the UK economy.

Where a project is linked to overseas investment in the UK, or export of goods from the UK, DIT will:

  • provide a way for overseas businesses to contact DIT staff in their country, via knowledgeable staff at UK embassies and consulates
  • support potential investors with sector-specific information and facts about the UK economy
  • provide support for investors looking for a UK location and data benchmarking to demonstrate the competitive position of the UK
  • provide introductions to other government departments and partner organisations for businesses setting up in the UK for the first time or expanding their existing UK investments
  • support business wishing to export through trade missions and customer connections, supported by UK embassies and consulates
  • offer export finance support to businesses wishing to trade overseas, through DIT’s UKEF organisation
  • provide ongoing after care customer support through a dedicated relationship manager

APC can help by:

  • providing general guidance regarding interpretation of competition rules and guidelines on an informal basis
  • helping your consortium to structure the bid development process
  • explaining common pitfalls
  • answering questions about whether or not your project is within scope

In securing funding from this programme, each participant receiving a grant will pay an industrial contribution to the APC operating budget. This is set at 3% and is proportional to the grant awarded.

Any information received by Innovate UK for this competition may be shared with APC, BEIS and DIT. Innovate UK has a data sharing agreement in place with these bodies which safeguards both personal and commercial data in accordance with data protection legislation.

Note that the APC role is to provide indicative guidance rather than formal advice. To contact APC email atf@apcuk.co.uk or call +44 (0)24 7652 8700.

If you need assistance using the Innovation Funding Service, email support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the Innovate UK competition helpline on 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9 am to 11:30 am and 2 pm to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

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.

24 July 2020 - the contact email address for APC was updated

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