Funding competition Driving the Electric Revolution: Supply Chains for Net Zero

UK registered businesses of any size can apply for a share of up to £22 million for innovation projects focused on supply chain development for power electronics, electric machines and drives.

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Competition sections

Description

ISCF will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £22 million in innovation projects. These will be to support the government’s green industrial revolution in transport, energy and industrial sectors.

The aim of this competition is to facilitate the UK's niche and volume supply chain and manufacturing capability growth in power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD).

Your proposal must help the UK to achieve the objectives of the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge and have a significant impact on the PEMD supply chain in the UK to support the UK’s drive towards net zero.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £500,000 and £5 million.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have started by 1 February 2022
  • end by 31 January 2025
  • last between 18 and 36 months
  • have total eligible costs between £500,000 and £5 million

If your project’s duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, RTOs, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Research organisations cannot lead projects.

The make-up of your project team must include at least 3 layers of an existing or new supply chain. When choosing supply chain partners for the project team, you must make sure that supply side and demand side are both represented.


Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, 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

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. 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 other collaborators 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 UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in question 4 for why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.
If a business is not leading any application, it can collaborate in up to 3 applications.

A research organisation cannot lead but can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

We will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and state aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK's obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

European Commission State aid

You must apply under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is conducting activities that will affect trade of goods and/or electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

In certain limited circumstances, the European Commission State aid rules may also apply if you are an organisation located in England, Wales, or Scotland and conduct activities that affect the trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. For further information, please see section 7 of the BEIS technical guidance.

For further information see our general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

For applicants subject to the European Commission State aid rules, applicants will be required to prove that they were not an “Undertaking in Difficulty” 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.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, please take independent legal advice.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding

We have allocated up to £22 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

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

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your 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 can claim 100% of their total eligible project costs.

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.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to address key research and development opportunities in the UK power electronics, machines, and drives (PEMD) supply chain to support the UK’s drive towards net zero. This is to facilitate UK niche and volume supply chain and manufacturing capability growth in PEMD.

By niche supply chain we mean low volume, high value. By volume supply chain we mean high volume, high efficiency.

Up to £22 million will be invested in business-led, supply chain focused, innovation projects that enable future improvements in:

  • productivity
  • capacity
  • quality
  • efficiency

Projects must:

  • start by 1 February 2022
  • be industry led
  • be collaborative


Your project outputs should ideally have potential for cross-sector impact. Your outputs must:

  • show a demonstrable benefit to a UK PEMD supply chain
  • be exploitable through future activities
  • demonstrate a credible return on investment

We want to see a range of project sizes and durations from £500,000 to £5 million and from 18 months to 36 months duration.

We want to fund a portfolio of projects across multiple sectors.

The Challenge Director reserves the right to make sure that the portfolio of successful projects will have the greatest positive impact to the UK’s PEMD supply chain.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on the following areas:

Manufacturing process development, such as:

  • innovations and approaches to improve manufacturing productivity
  • implementation of an innovative new tool into a process line
  • automation of a specific process
  • reconfiguring a process line in an innovative way to improve productivity or flexibility

Design for manufacture, such as:

  • designing, redesigning, prototyping a product where the focus is on how you manufacture it more efficiently and cost effectively
  • specification of a manufacturing process
  • virtual process development (VPD) including improvements in modelling and simulation software
  • developments which enable products to be manufactured with recycling taken into consideration

Innovative end-of-line testing and product validation processes:

  • scale-up and/or automation of testing and validation processes, with an aim of increasing productivity
  • supply chain improvements

Circular economy, including:

  • scale-up of processes for the recycling and recovery of materials from end-of-life PEMD products
  • lifecycle and embedded carbon analysis with a view of process improvement
  • waste reduction and process energy efficiency improvements

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. Other PEMD supply chain improvements may be in scope. To discuss the scope of your project with us please email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org at least 10 days before the close date of this competition.

Research categories

We will fund industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • fundamental research, feasibility studies or proof of concept projects
  • projects that are not collaborative
  • projects that are not industry led
  • projects that focus on product development which do not focus on design for manufacture and supply chain development
  • projects that do not develop capability that will enhance UK PEMD supply chains
  • projects that do not demonstrate a credible return on investment
  • projects focussed around batteries
  • projects dependent on export performance
  • projects dependent on domestic inputs usage

8 March 2021
Competition opens
9 March 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
30 June 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
30 August 2021
Invite to interview
13 September 2021
Interviews week commencing
1 October 2021
Applicants notified

Before you start

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

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

Interviews

If your online application is successful you may be invited to attend an interview, where you must give a presentation. Your interview will take place online.

Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

A total of 5 people can attend, this must include at least 1 person from the lead organisation. Agree the list with your consortium. Attendees must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 15 minutes
  • have no more than 15 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to 2 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams

Interview
The interview panel will be made up of the Challenge Director or delegate and 4 independent panelists.

After your presentation the panel will spend 20 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

1. Project details

This section provides background 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.

Research category

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.

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. 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.

Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Project partners location (not scored)

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Please state the name of each organisation along with its full registered address. If you are working with an academic institution this doesn’t need to be included.

Question 2. Growth and objectives

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

What problems or opportunities will your project address relating to the UK PEMD supply chain, and how does your project relate to the overall objectives of the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project and why it will be transformative for the supply chain
  • the clear commercial opportunity you are targeting and how you will achieve it
  • manufacturing or technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the PEMD supply chain gap or barrier that the project will address
  • the key project objectives
  • 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

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 3: Approach and innovation

Your answer to this question can be up to 600 words long.

What is your approach to delivering the project objectives, and how is your project innovative for the UK PEMD supply chain?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will address the supply chain need identified
  • what the nearest current state-of-the-art is, its limitations and how you will improve it
  • how your approach fits with the upstream and downstream supply chains’ requirements and needs
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing processes or technologies in a new supply chain, the development of new processes or technologies for an existing supply chain or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how the project will enhance the manufacturing and technical maturity of the process or capability
  • how this builds on previous R&D investments
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • 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 supply chain need, manufacturing 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Team and resources

Your answer to this question can be up to 600 words long.

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

Describe or explain:

  • the project organisations and why this the right consortia to deliver the project
  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking (specifically state the lead project manager and their credentials)
  • 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 because of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for
  • how you have considered equality, diversity and inclusion in the development of your project consortium

You can submit one appendix. This can include a short summary 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. Market awareness

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Please note: We do not require a high-level summary of the UK’s appetite for PEMD and the strategic case, as this is well understood. Please be specific to your project only.

Describe or explain:

  • the sector(s) you will be targeting with this project
  • 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 current supply chain, in the UK and overseas, and how your project will enhance UK capability and offering
  • 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
  • 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, and the value to them

Question 6. Project management

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

How are you structuring your project to deliver the objectives, and how will you manage it effectively to ensure success?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project to deliver the objectives, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • deliverables and milestones of each work package
  • 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, taking into account the possible impact of further COVID-19 restrictions

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. 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 7. Outcomes, route to market and impact on supply chain

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

What is the impact of the project outcomes on the UK PEMD supply chain?

  • how the project will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how the project will impact those above and below you in the PEMD supply chain
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction

How will you industrialise the outcomes of the project to deliver the expected impact to the UK PEMD supply chain?

  • the route to market in terms of industrialisation
  • 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

The most successful projects will provide the strongest evidence of impacting the UK PEMD supply chain.

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 8. Wider impacts

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

What wider impacts might this project have in the UK?

Describe, and where possible, measure the economic benefits from the project such as productivity increases and import substitution, to:

  • external parties
  • customers
  • others in the supply chain & aligned supply chains
  • broader industry
  • re-shoring capability to the UK
  • attracting investment (UK and Foreign Direct Investment)
  • the UK economy
  • UK jobs creation and safeguarding

Describe, and where possible, measure:

  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected societal impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • upskilling and re-skilling, education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations and standards
  • diversity

Question 9. Risks

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

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, 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 10. Added value

Your answer to this question can be up to 400 words long.

What impact would an injection of Driving the Electric Revolution 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 be first market, more partners or reduced risk
  • without the funding, what is the likely impact of the 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

Your answer to this question can be up to 600 words long

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge and the taxpayer?

It is essential that this project provides excellent value for money to the taxpayer and a demonstrable return on investment attributable to the Driving the Electric Revolution investment.

In terms of the project goals, 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 is expected to deliver increased turnover and return on investment to the taxpayer within 3 years of completion
  • 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

Post project investment is expected. This is to be further cash investment by the consortium partners in new equipment, premises or staff. It must be reportable to Innovate UK as it will be measured if you are successful.

Provide:

  • a description of how this investment will be raised
  • details of subsequent post-project activities that will occur

You must submit one appendix that includes a table detailing a forecast of the full breakdown of fiscal investments and turnover increase by partner, in terms of equipment, premises and staff, per Innovate UK financial year (ending 31 March), for up to 36 months after project completion. It must be a PDF, can be up to 4 A4 pages long and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

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

Driving the Electric Revolution, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, is investing up to £22 million in innovation projects that will support the UK’s drive towards net zero.

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. 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 multiple sectors.

This is part of a larger effort across many technologies and sectors to catalyse the government’s green industrial revolution in transport, energy, and industrial sectors, aligned to the ten-point plan.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply email support@innovateuk.ukri.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).

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful.

If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact our Customer Support Service as early as possible during your application process. You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

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

Support for SMEs from Innovate UK EDGE

If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE. This service forms part of our funded offer to you.

These specialists focus on growing innovative businesses and ensuring that projects contribute to their growth. Working one-to-one, they can help you to identify your best strategy and harness world-class resources to grow and achieve scale.

We encourage you to engage with EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Need help with this service? Contact us