Funding competition SBRI Zero emission road freight, supporting uptake of battery electric trucks

Organisations can apply for a share of £10 million, inclusive of VAT, to provide an innovative solution to enable fleets to switch to battery electric trucks.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK. It forms part of a £20 million managed programme supporting the transition to zero emission trucks in the UK.

The aim of the competition is to develop an interactive solution to de-risk, aid and encourage fleet operators to convert to battery electric vehicles.

The solution will be used by public and private fleet operators to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and deployment options around commercially available zero emission trucks.

The solution will also identify the needs and challenges around critical supporting infrastructure, vehicle charging and fleet management.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition.

The phase 1 project must include data evaluation, test and demonstration involving a minimum of ten battery electric trucks.

The vehicles must be:

  • between 16 and 29 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW)
  • in service with the public sector lead customer that is supporting this activity

The purpose of field testing in a real-world, real-time logistics environment is to improve and validate the approach.

Battery electric trucks must be used where logistics operations would otherwise be using conventionally powered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The demonstration will act as a case study for others.

Data collected during the project should feed into and validate the identified outputs.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process.

This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Funding type


Project size

Projects can range in size up to total costs of £10 million, inclusive of VAT.

Who can apply

Your project

Projects must:

  • start by 1 July 2021
  • end by 31 March 2022
  • can last up to 10 months for phase 1

To lead a project, you must:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors
  • be able to provide or obtain access to suitable battery electric trucks to meet the real time logistics demands of a UK public sector fleet operator
  • obtain and submit a letter of support from a UK public sector fleet operator

The public sector body must indicate that it is committed to actively support the development of an interactive solution and undertake a demonstrator trial of at least 10 vehicles along with installation of critical supporting infrastructure on its premises.

Contracts will be awarded to single legal entities only.

If you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

Subject to funding, the Department for Transport may choose to follow phase 1 with support for an extended data collection and demonstration activity for 12 months in phase 2.


A total of up to £10 million, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this competition.

R&D contracts will be up to £10 million, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 10 months. The Department for Transport expects to fund up to 3 projects.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to adjust the provisional funding for the competition.

The contract is completed at the end of the first phase. Any successful organisation is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service.

You can include the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

Subsidy control

SBRI competitions involve procurement of R&D services at a fair market value and are not subject to subsidy control criteria that typically apply to grant funding.

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to develop one or more innovative, interactive solutions to support the uptake of battery electric trucks. You must identify the costs and considerations around deploying commercially available zero emission trucks. The solution must focus on using battery electric trucks for public and private sector fleet operations.

Your proposal

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market for your innovative interactive solution. Your proposal must include a plan to commercialise your results and demonstrate how it will be of value to the public sector.

Your project

You must create a solution which helps users to understand the strengths and weaknesses of deploying commercially available battery electric zero emission trucks.

Your solution must be an interactive solution which helps users:

  • gain an understanding of the economic and practical feasibility of the technology
  • de-risk, aid and encourage fleet operators to convert to battery electric vehicles

Your solution must provide information to help users make decisions about:

  • how to identify an appropriate technical specification for battery electric trucks
  • the ‘total cost of ownership’ approach and financing
  • how operations and duty cycles might influence vehicle selection
  • what to expect in terms of vehicle use and system performance
  • what critical supporting infrastructure is required to support a fleet, including costs
  • options for vehicle charging, including the use of rapid charging which would enable trucks to routinely operate in excess of their rated range

  • training requirements for organisations
  • electric vehicle specific aspects of fleet management, repair, and maintenance

This list is not exhaustive.

To make sure the solution is credible, it must be based on learning and data captured from long-term field testing. This must be where goods or freight are moved to satisfy an existing UK public sector logistics requirement which would otherwise use conventionally powered HGVs.

The field testing and demonstration can include trucks with varying specifications but must:

  • be capable of ultra-rapid charging (≥100kW)
  • have an estimated single charge range of more than 90 miles or 140 kilometres
  • have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 16 to 29 tonnes.

Data sharing

Successful projects must provide data to Innovate UK and the Department for Transport (DfT). An independent organisation may advise on the output data. The parties will agree the exact data required at the outset of the project. The Department of Transport will reassess data during projects to make sure it is of high value.

Some data collected from the field testing will be analysed and publicised at the end of the demonstration.

Research categories

Phase 1: Development, deployment, test and evaluation (this phase)

This can include producing the innovative interactive solution, setting up and undertaking field testing with your UK public sector partner, and using learning and data gained to ensure that your solution is reliable and accurate in a real-world real-time logistics environment.

Phase 2: Further field testing and evaluation
This can include further piloting, testing and validation of new or improved solutions in real life operating conditions. Costs awarded to successful projects will be limited to the supply of R&D services to capture and validate the interactive solution through an extended trial.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that cover:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes
  • generation of a tool or model with an excessive software focus, including where the intent is to produce an app, or model hypothetical scenarios
  • demonstrations which use hybrid or range extender technology, or any other technology which produces tailpipe emissions.
  • demonstrations which use hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or hydrogen internal combustion vehicles.
  • projects which focus on niche vehicle applications such as refuse collection or gritter trucks

22 March 2021
Competition opens
30 March 2021
Online briefing event: watch the recording
21 April 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
20 May 2021
9 June 2021
Applicants notified
1 July 2021
Phase 1 contracts awarded

Before you start

By submitting an application, you agree to the terms of the draft contract which is available once you start your application. The final contract will include any details you have agreed with the funding authority and will be sent to you if your application is successful. The contract is binding once the contract is returned by the applicant and signed by both parties. The terms and conditions included in the draft contract should not substantially change. When you start an application on the Innovation Funding Service you will be prompted to create an account as the lead applicant or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation in leading the project if your application is successful

You will be able to invite colleagues from your organisation to contribute to the application.

What happens next

A selected panel of assessors will review and score your application and the winners of the phase 1 contracts will be selected. All applicants will be provided feedback.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

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

1. Project details

These sections are not scored.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and duration.

Who made you aware of the competition?

Select a category to state who made you aware of the competition. You cannot choose more than one.

How long has your organisation been established for?

Select a category to state how long has your organisation been established for. You cannot choose more than one.

What is your organisation’s primary area focus?

Select a category to state your organisation’s primary focus area. You cannot choose more than one.

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

Please provide a short summary of your project and describe how it meets the scope of the competition.

Describe your project briefly. Be clear about what makes it innovative and how it relates to the scope of the competition. How does it tackle different aspects of the challenge and how will it provide an integrated solution?

Give details of the lead organisation. Before you submit we expect you to have discussed your application within your own organisation and any other relevant organisations.

List any organisations you have named as subcontractors.

Your answer for this section can be up to 800 words long. This section is not scored, but we will use it to decide whether the project fits the scope of the competition. If it does not, it may be rejected.

Public description

Please provide a brief description of your project. If your application is successful, we will publish this description. This question is mandatory but we will not assess this content as part of your application.

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. We have the right to amend the description before publication if necessary but will consult you about any changes.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to all these questions.

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

Questions 1 to 7 will be marked out of 10 and question 8 will be marked out of 30.

Question 1. Proposed idea or technology

Provide a brief description of your proposed idea or technology. How does it address the outcomes described in the competition scope?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the 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 technology, 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 support the uptake of battery electric trucks
  • 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 support the uptake of battery electric trucks

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF containing images and diagrams to support your answer. It can be no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How well does the proposal meet the challenge?’

Question 2. Technical project summary

Give a short background to the main technical challenges you are looking to address. Describe or explain:

  • how you will address the challenge
  • what the innovation is
  • the main technical deliverables
  • the research and development that will prove the scientific, environmental and commercial merit of the project
  • what might be achieved by deploying the innovation to address the selected challenge

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘How valid is the technical approach?’

Question 3. Current state of the art and intellectual property

Detail other products currently available on the market and how the innovation of your proposed project differentiates itself from them.

Include details of:

  • any existing intellectual property (IP)
  • its significance to your freedom to operate

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘How innovative is this project? How much does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies for this area?’

Question 4. Project plan and methodology

Describe your project plan and identify the main milestones.

The plan for phase 1 must be comprehensive. For phase 2 only an outline is required. The emphasis throughout should be on practicality. We are seeking evidence that the technology works, can be made into a viable product and can achieve the proposed benefits.

You should describe or explain:

  • what resources will be needed to deliver the project particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • what the main success criteria would be
  • the identified project management processes that will ensure you achieve the milestones
  • the main technical, commercial and environmental risks and what you will do to mitigate them
  • how you would handle any IP issues which might arise during the project
  • how you will source suitable electric vehicles and critical infrastructure for the trial

Indicate your required payment schedule by quarter.

Please ensure that if you are working with subcontractors you explain how you will maintain freedom to operate and fulfill the IP requirements detailed in the contract. Allow for the preparation of a detailed plan for phase 2, towards the end of phase 1

You must upload a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix in PDF format no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages.. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Download and complete the milestone template.

Your milestones must be:

  • clear
  • defined using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) criteria
  • associated with the appropriate deliverables and payments

Once you have completed the milestone template it must be uploaded in a PDF format to this question. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

This question will be assessed against these assessment criteria:

  • does the proposal show a clear plan for establishing technical and commercial feasibility and the development of a working prototype?
  • is there a clear management plan?
  • what are the main technical, commercial and environmental risks to project success?
  • will these be effectively managed?
  • are the milestones and evaluation procedures appropriate?
  • is vehicle and infrastructure supply viable?

Question 5. Technical team and expertise

Provide a brief description of your technical team. Include the expertise of each team member or subcontractor that is relevant to your application, outlining why they are critical to the project’s success and how much of their time will be spent on the project.

This question will be scored against this assessment criterion: ‘Does the applicant have the skills, capabilities and experience to deliver the intended benefits?’

Question 6. Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost for phase 1? How does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total eligible project costs, inclusive of VAT, you are requesting in terms of the project goals
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer

You can submit a single appendix as a spreadsheet no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long to support your answer. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Indicate your potential costs for phase 2 based on the testing and demonstration activities being extended by 12 months. Please add the additional value that this extension would provide to the solution.

Progression to phase 2 depends on your success in phase 1.

Costs quoted must reflect actual costs at a “fair market value” and not include profit.

Full Economic Cost (FEC) calculations are not relevant for SBRI competitions. SBRI is a competitive process and applications will come from a variety of organisations. Whatever calculation you use to arrive at your total eligible project costs your application will be assessed against applications from other organisations. Bear this in mind when calculating your total eligible project costs. You can include overheads but remember that this is a competitive process.

Total costs must include VAT. VAT is the responsibility of the invoicing business, and applications must list total costs inclusive of VAT. You will be asked if you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

If you are a VAT registered organisation you will not need to enter your costs inclusive of VAT as the application form will calculate the VAT for you.

If you are not VAT registered then you can quote without VAT but you will not be able to increase invoice values to cover VAT later on.

The assessors are required to judge the application finances in terms of value for money. In other words, does the proposed cost for effort and deliverables reflect a fair market price? They will score your finances against this assessment criterion: ‘Are the budget and costs realistic, justified and appropriate for the aims and methods?

Please note information from the finances section will be used to support the assessment of this question. Proposed costs stated in this section must match those entered in the finance summary on your application.

Question 7. Commercial potential

Describe how you would realise the commercial potential of your proposal and to what timescales, including a clear plan to deliver that and a route to market. Focus on your proposed customer’s needs but you may also mention the future commercial potential across the public or private sector and the international market.

How far is the challenge you are addressing shared across the public and/or private sector in the UK and further afield? Describe the competitive advantage that your proposal has over existing or alternative technologies that meet market needs.

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria: ‘Is there a clear commercial potential for a marketable product, process or service and a clear plan to deliver that and a clear route to market? How significant is the competitive advantage of this technology over existing technologies that meet the market’s needs?’

Question 8. Public sector lead customer support

This question is marked out of 30.

Describe how you will engage with a public sector organisation (or an association of public sector organisations) that operates a suitable fleet during your project.


  • the support and involvement that the public sector body can commit to
  • the current size of the public body’s current fleet (how many vehicles with a GVW 16 to 29 tonnes).
  • what is the potential to replace some or all of the vehicles to undertake testing in a real world (live logistics) environment

Provide evidence, such as a letter of support, to indicate that a public sector organisation can commit to actively supporting: development of an innovative interactive solution to support uptake of battery electric trucks field testing in a live environment to collect data and learning to ensure that the output of the project is credible

This question will be scored against these assessment criteria:

  • does the application have substantial public sector support such that the output will be based in real world experience?
  • has the applicant demonstrated that their public sector partner has adequate fleet requirements such that a trial can be effectively implemented?
  • do you have evidence of support from the public sector organisation?

You can submit a single appendix as a PDF to support your answer. It can be no larger than 10MB and up to 2 A4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

3. Finances

Enter your project costs for phase 1 only, your organisation details and funding details. For full information on what costs you can claim, see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Heavy battery electric zero emission vehicles capable of freight operations are relatively new to the market and public and private sector organisations are unsure of the viability of these offerings. Accordingly, the uptake and roll out of these vehicles is hindered by the uncertainty in the market.

This competition is part of commitments defined in the November 2020 Policy Paper ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’. Funding for this competition has come from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the contracting authority. This is an excellent opportunity to establish an early customer for a new technology and to fund its development.

The successful project will input into learning that will be shared across public sector organisations and will de-risk and encourage fleet operators to convert to battery electric vehicles.

Phase 2 of this competition

A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on funding decisions and the outcomes from phase 1 and may include assessment of a separate application into a subsequent phase 2 competition.

Phase 2 would provide an opportunity to undertake further field testing and to test and validate the interactive solution through seasonal and market demand fluctuations.

Phase 2 costs will be limited to the procurement of R&D services associated with further field testing and data collection from the test vehicles and equipment.

Phase 2 would continue to collect and validate data capturing seasonal variations for approximately 12 months.

About Small Business Research Initiative competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness.

The SBRI programme:

  • supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of R&D
  • generates new business opportunities for companies
  • provides a route to market for their ideas
  • bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies

SBRI competitions are open to all organisations that can demonstrate a route to market for their solution. The SBRI scheme is particularly suited to small and medium-sized businesses, as the contracts are of relatively small value and operate on short timescales. Developments are 100% funded and focused on specific identified needs, increasing the chance of exploitation.

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 Innovate UK EDGE, delivered by a knowledgeable and objective specialist near you.

Data sharing

This competition is jointly operated by Innovate UK, and The Department for Transport.

Your submitted application and any other information you provide at the application stage can be submitted to each agency on an individual basis for its storage, processing and use. Any relevant information produced during the application process concerning your application can be shared by one agency with the other, for its individual storage, processing and use.

This means that any information given to or generated by Innovate UK in respect of your application may be passed on to DfT and vice versa.

Innovate UK is directly accountable to you for its holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. It is held in accordance with its Information Management Policy.

Innovate UK and DfT are directly accountable to you for their holding and processing of your information, including any personal data and confidential information. Data is held in accordance with their own policies. Accordingly, Innovate UK, and DfT will be data controllers for personal data submitted during the application.

Innovate UK complies with the requirements of GDPR, and is committed to upholding the data protection principles, and protecting your information. The Information Commissioner’s Office also has a useful guide for organisations, which outlines the data protection principles.

Further help and information

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

If you need support with the application process, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 11:30am or 2pm and 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.

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