Automotive Transformation Fund expression of interest: October 2020
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 billion for capital investment and R&D projects that help industrialise the electrified automotive supply chain at scale in the UK.
- Competition opens: Monday 19 October 2020
- Competition closes: Wednesday 11 November 2020 11:00am
This competition is now closed.
The Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) is a new programme that aims to establish a competitive and sustainable UK supply chain.
It offers a share of up to £1 billion of funding for industrial research and capital investment projects. This will be to support the industrialisation of a high-value, electrified automotive supply at scale in the UK.
This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. If your application is successful you will be invited to apply to one of the full stage competition strands when they are published:
- Research and development (R&D).
- Capital investment.
If your project includes both R&D and capital investment you will have to apply for both full stage competitions.
ATF reserves the right to prioritise certain successful applications following assessment that are deemed of national importance to the UK’s automotive sector. These applications may be directed to an open exceptional Regional Growth Fund (RGF) process outside of the normal full stage competitions.
In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.
Total eligible project costs and project duration must be appropriate and in proportion to the planned objectives and prioritisation of the Automotive Transformation Fund.
Who can apply
Your total eligible project costs and project duration must be appropriate and in proportion to the planned objectives and prioritisation within the Automotive Transformation Fund.
To discuss if your project falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must contact the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) directly at ATF@apcuk.co.uk at least 10 days before the competition closes. APC will decide whether to approve your request.
To lead a project or work alone 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
- address the requirements of the Automotive Transformation Fund
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:
- be a UK registered business, academic institution, 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
- be invited by the lead organisation
If you are working in a collaboration the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.
Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. We would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor. Subcontractor costs should be included as part of Question 7 in your application.
Number of applications
There are no restrictions on the number of applications a business can lead or collaborate on.There are no restrictions on the number of applications a partner can collaborate on.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
We will not award you funding if you have:
- failed to exploit a previously funded project
- an overdue independent accountant’s report
- failed to comply with grant terms and conditions
Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UID). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, we will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UID on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. We will ask for evidence of this.
Any UK registered business claiming grant funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure, please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance on state aid.
We have allocated up to £1 billion to fund innovation projects in this 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.
Industry led research projects
For industry led research projects, your total grant funding must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs. This is regardless of the individual partners’ grant claims. Of that 50%, you could get funding of up to:
- 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
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.
Of that 30%, research and technology 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
This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research, development and innovation’ of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.
Capital investment projects
Capital investment projects will be managed through the Automotive Transformation Fund capex team and BEIS.For capital investment projects the grant available is dependent on the proposed project and will be determined during the second stage of the application process. The grant requested should be the minimum required to ensure sustainability of the investment. Further information on the process will be provided at the full stage.
This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. You must have a successful application in this competition before you can be invited to apply to the full stage competition.
Your project must have an automotive application.
You can submit more than one application. Each application can focus on:
- research and development (R&D) only
- capital investment only
- both R&D and capital investment
- motors and drives
- power electronics
- fuel cell
- recycling of any of the above
More detail is available in ‘specific themes’ below.
Only projects which score well against the following criteria will receive funding from the Automotive Transformation Fund:
- fit with the overall aims of the Automotive Transformation Fund
- value for money for the UK
- ongoing benefit to the UK from the exploitation of your project
- project deliverables such as time, cost and quality (including risks)
APC will fund a portfolio of projects, across the technologies listed in the specific themes section. This portfolio and the technologies within are designed to be complimentary to the overall aim of the ATF. There may be occasion where a lower scoring project is supported, superseding a higher scoring application.The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) can help you check whether your project fits the Automotive Transformation Fund. Contact the APC team at ATF@apcuk.co.uk to find out more.
Your project can focus on one or more of the following:
- cathode materials and manufacturing
- anode materials and manufacturing
- cell assembly components (including separators)
- cell or module assembly
- cell testing
- battery pack components
- battery pack assembly and test
Motors and drives
- magnet materials and manufacturing
- electrical steel materials and manufacturing
- electrical machine assembly
- drive line components
- assembly and test into complete drive unit
- wide band gap semi-conductors
- power electronics assembly
- bipolar plates
- gas diffusion layer
- air handling systems
- balance of power
- fuel cell stack assembly
- storage tanks
- fuel delivery (where specifically required for development purposes)
- fuel cells
- power electronics
In the full stage competitions, the Automotive Transformation Fund will fund:
- industrial research as defined in the guidance on categories of research
- capital investment under the Automotive Transformation Fund capex team and BEIS
Projects we will not fund
We are not funding R&D that involves:
- product or process development which is at prototype or early proof of concept stage
- low-carbon fuels development.
We are not funding capital investment that:
- includes investment in final electric vehicle assembly at original equipment manufacturers (OEM)
- are related to charging infrastructure
- supports retail and wholesale fuel supply (except where used for own development purposes)
- focuses primarily on use of digital or data technologies such as simulation
- 19 October 2020
- Competition opens
- 11 November 2020 11:00am
- Competition closes
- 18 December 2020
- Applicants notified
Before you start
You should also read specific information about the ATF programme before you start your application.
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 2 sections:
- Project details.
- Application questions.
1. Project details
This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.
Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.
The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.
Select the type of research you will undertake.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
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 then select yes in the application question. 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.
What are you seeking funding for? Type one of the following:
- an R&D project
- a capital investment project
- a mixed R&D and capital investment project
Provide a summary of the objectives, content, and output of the proposed project, covering the following elements:
- overview and purpose of the project
- output or results of the project
- anticipated route to market
- market opportunity being addressed
- amount of grant support requested
- total anticipated budget
- potential investment location
Please provide a short description of your current business, including an overview of current capabilities in areas relevant to the proposal.
This section is mandatory but is not scored. However, it is a vital part of the application, setting the scene and providing assessors with a clear overview of the project.Your answer can be up to 600 words long.
2. Application questions
ATF assessors will score your application to determine if it aligns with the planned objectives and prioritisation of the Automotive Transformation Fund.
After your application has been assessed, a separate strategic score is given to your application by an ATF moderation panel.
That score is based on your answers to application questions 1 and 2, taking into consideration the wider automotive landscape in the UK and internationally.
You will be notified through your IFS dashboard via email if your application is successful or unsuccessful. You will not receive feedback through the Innovation Funding Service.
APC may choose to contact you directly to explain how you have met or have not met this criterion.
Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.Question 1. Automotive Transformation Fund
Demonstrate how your project aligns to the competition objectives, associated focus areas and overall aims of the automotive Transformation Fund. Provide up to date evidence where possible.
- which area of the Automotive Transformation Fund your project will help deliver
- your current role in the UK supply chain and how this project will change that
- how your project will help delivery scale up in the UK
You can submit one appendix. It can include diagrams and charts. It must be a PDF, can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 2. Exploitation and dissemination
How will you exploit and disseminate your project results? What economic, social and environmental benefits do you expect your project to deliver, and by when?
- expected project outputs, including products, services, processes, and capabilities
- your initial exploitation plan: the route to market, intellectual property, changes to business models or processes, research, and development (R&D), and manufacturing services
- spill-over or dissemination of ideas, demonstrating how your activities will contribute to the wider automotive industry and other sectors
- the UK benefits expected to be delivered as a result of this project, such as R&D and capital expenditure, supply chain, jobs, training and skills, and environmental benefits
Question 3. Technical approach and management
What technical approach will you use and how will you manage your project?
Describe or explain:
- the technical approach, including the main objectives of the work
- how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
- how and why the approach is appropriate
- how you will make sure the innovative steps in the project are achievable
- how you will measure your success
- the areas of work and your objectives
You must submit a work breakdown structure (including the cost of each work package). It must be a PDF, as one A4 page and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Question 4. Market awareness
What does the market you are targeting look like?
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 time frames
- the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
- the current UK position in targeting these markets
- the size and main features of any other markets not already listed
If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:
- what the market’s size might to be
- how your project will try to explore the market’s potential
Question 5. Skills, experience, and facilities
Does your proposed project team have the right skills, experience, and facilities to deliver this project?
Demonstrate that the likely project team:
- has the right mix of skills and experience to complete the project
- has a track record in managing research and development projects
- has clear objectives and roles or responsibilities
If you are part of a consortium, describe the benefits of the collaboration. What advantages does being part of a consortium offer the project?
Question 6. Adding value
How does financial support from the Automotive Transformation Fund add value to the UK? What will happen to the project in the absence of funding?
Answer both of the following:
- why do you need this funding? Explain what other sources of funding have been considered, including private investment, and why it is not available.
- what will happen to the project in the absence of funding? Describe and provide evidence for what will occur if the application for funding is not successful
Question 7. Finances
Provide us with estimates of the project’s eligible costs, including any partner’s costs and the grant funding you are seeking. If your proposal includes R&D and Capital investment, please separate these costs out.
Type ‘Table attached’ as your answer and give your estimates in a table as an attached appendix. Give details of the total eligible costs and total funding requested for this project.
Give your table the following headings:
- company name
- country where work is being carried out
- eligible costs (£)
- funding sought (£)
Where there is more than one company involved, please ensure a similar table is completed for each partner. The funding sought by a partner can be zero.You must submit a summary of your estimated costs as a table. It can be submitted as a PDF or spreadsheet, as one A4 page and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.
Background and further information
Intended to support industrialisation at scale of a high-value electrified automotive supply chain in the UK, the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) is a new programme funded by the UK government. Its aim is to establish a competitive and sustainable UK supply chain.
Formed in 2013 the Advanced Propulsion Centre accelerates the industrialisation of technologies which help to realise zero emission vehicles. It is at the heart of the UK Government’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The APC was appointed as the main Automotive Transformation Fund delivery organisation.
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).
For R&D projects, Innovate UK will deliver the competition process, technical assessment framework and contracting.
For capital investment projects, the Automotive Transformation Fund capex team at BEIS will deliver the competition process, assessment framework and contracting.
The value for money that the proposed project will deliver to the UK economy will be assessed by BEIS.
Where a project is linked to overseas investment in the UK, or export of goods from the UK, DIT will:
- provide reasons why an overseas business should invest in the UK
- assist with sector-specific information about the UK economy
- provide a way for overseas businesses to contact DIT staff in their country
APC can help by:
- co-ordinating your application through all the necessary steps
- providing general guidance regarding interpretation of competition rules and guidelines on an informal basis
- helping your consortium to structure the bid development process
- answering questions regarding whether or not your project is within scope
In securing R&D funding from this programme, each participant receiving a grant will pay an industrial contribution to the APC operating budget. This will be proportional to its grant and is set at 3%.
Any information received by Innovate UK for this competition may be shared with APC, BEIS, DIT, HM Treasury and the devolved administrations. There is a data sharing agreement in place with these bodies which safeguards both personal and commercial data in accordance with data protection legislation.
Get help with your application
Note that the APC role is to provide indicative guidance rather than formal advice. To contact APC email ATF@apcuk.co.uk .
If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.
If you need assistance using the Innovation Funding Service firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 321 4357.
Our phone lines are open from 9am to 11:30am and 2pm to 4:30pm, 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.
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