Funding competition Hydrogen Transport Hub: demonstration

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £2.5 million to demonstrate how green hydrogen can be used to power transport solutions for end users.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


The Department for Transport will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £2.5 million on innovative projects.

This competition will help the UK to understand how hydrogen can support the long-term development of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub (HTH) and drive demand to decarbonise the transport system.

This investment will support demonstrations of hydrogen-powered vehicles in real-world operational settings across Tees Valley.

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


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £200,000 and £1 million.

Who can apply

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs of between £200,000 and £1million
  • start by 1 September 2021
  • end by 31 March 2022

If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to 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:

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

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 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, for example, non-UK businesses. 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. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

A business can lead or collaborate in any number of applications.

A charity, RTO, academic institution, not-for-profit or non-government body can collaborate in 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:

Eligibility overview

Here is a diagram showing a summary of eligibility.

This is a new way of showing you eligibility. Your feedback will help us to improve it.

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.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

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.


We have allocated up to £2.5 million 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.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 80% 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

All eligible costs are subject to review against relevant requirements under the UK Subsidy Regime and its International Obligations at point of financial due diligence.

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

(Text update 9 June 2021: we have added instruction on requesting an extension to the 3-month demonstration start and end date.)

(Text update 24 May 2021: we have re-ordered the themes and added a definition of ‘zero-emission combustion’ for clarity.)

The aim of this competition is to demonstrate the use of green hydrogen in transport to test business models and user operating needs to inform future large-scale hydrogen-based operational trials.

We are looking for projects that will increase the demand for green hydrogen transport and support laying the long-term groundwork for the hub.

Applicants in this competition must use a hydrogen vehicle or vessel in an operational setting to replace, complement or add to existing transport fleets or operations.

Your project must:

  • demonstrate a green zero-emission hydrogen transport solution for 3 months
  • operate the demonstration in an open public setting or controlled environments, such as warehouses and distribution centres
  • offer a method to track their solution against performance indicators against a baseline comparator to understand benefits or challenges and then deploy this solution as part of the demonstration
  • report on the benefits for passengers, customers and residents in the Tees Valley
  • develop plans for long-term activities to create a demand for hydrogen in the Tees Valley from 2022

Projects can operate vehicles partly outside the Tees Valley but must maintain their main logistical connection with the area.

If you need your 3-month demonstration to start after January 2022 you must request permission. You must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes.

You can extend the demonstration for up to 6 weeks after 31 March 2022.

Any costs incurred after 31 March will not be eligible for grant support and must not be included in your eligible project costs.

We will decide whether to approve your request.

As part of your project, you must also:

  • undertake desk-based research into future engagement with the hub after 31 March 2022
  • show how the activity proposed for 2021 to 2022 will support the hub’s longer-term ambitions
  • outline how post-2022 activity will transition into a commercially viable ongoing hydrogen-fuelled transport activity or a larger trial on the ground encompassing hydrogen production and its wider use beyond transport.
  • explore the policy landscape associated with the deployment of a specific hydrogen vehicle or vessel to help inform wider policy discussions

The project can bring together opportunities in other programmes throughout 2021 to 2022 which includes the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

You can use any number of vehicles in your project including:

  • freight vehicles over 3.5 tonnes,
  • light commercial vehicles under 3.5 tonnes
  • mobile construction plant
  • maritime or inland waterway vessels
  • trains
  • buses
  • forklift trucks

If you would like to check your project is in scope you must email a short overview of your project to at least 10 working days before the competition closes.

We want to fund a portfolio of projects. We will provide your projects a supply of green hydrogen from refuelling locations in the Tees Valley that meet volume, quality and pressure requirements.

While we will make every effort to site the hydrogen supply in a convenient location, we cannot guarantee this.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • maritime, rail, aviation transport
  • non-road mobile machinery, such as forklift trucks
  • infrastructure that uses hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and mobile machinery
  • hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric or zero-emission combustion vehicle of any size

Here ‘zero-emission combustion’ is defined as a system which meets one of the following:

  • produces no harmful emissions
  • produces emissions at such a negligible level they cannot be measured by conventional instrumentation

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 projects that are:

  • exclusively outside of the Tees Valley
  • dedicated technology development projects which do not have the required demonstration time built in
  • not intended to lead to commercial activity or larger on-the-ground trials after the funding period
  • infrastructure projects including hydrogen generation
  • desk-based studies which do not include a demonstration of hydrogen-powered transport
  • dependent on export performance
  • dependent on domestic inputs usage

11 May 2021
Competition opens
12 May 2021
Online briefing event -
16 June 2021 11:00am
Competition closes
9 July 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.

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.

Subsidy Basis

Is your company based in Northern Ireland and are you planning to undertake any work for which you are seeking Innovate UK funding in Northern Ireland?

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.


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. Applicant location (not scored)

Please state the name of your organisation along with its full registered address.

Question 2. Hydrogen refuelling requirement (not scored)

What is the requirement on your project for Hydrogen refuelling location, type and quantity

Describe or explain:

  • where would you ideally have the supply source of Hydrogen located? This can be stated as postcode or vicinity.
  • if there is a particular grade or specification of Hydrogen for your project?
  • the estimated quantity and frequency of project re-fuelling including an approximate 2-hour window if applicable
  • start and end dates of your refuelling

Question 3. Need or challenge

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

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • how overcoming the challenge will contribute to the development of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub and, more generally, to hydrogen-powered transport and the wider hydrogen economy in the UK
  • how your project aligns with DfT’s priorities for hydrogen in general and with the vision for the Hub specifically
  • 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

Question 4. 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 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 and no larger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 5. 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
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them, particularly in the light of any continuing COVID-19 restrictions
  • the details of any vital external parties, including subcontractors, 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 taking into account the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the team structure

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 6. Market awareness

What are the current barriers to success in your target market and how might these be addressed?

Describe or explain:

  • the nature of the key barriers to success in your target market, considering, for example, issues with technology, regulation, supply-chains, tax and subsidy regimes, etc
  • where government might most effectively intervene to reduce or remove these barriers, via, for example, investment in infrastructure, reform of tax or subsidy regimes, the development of standards or regulations

Be as specific as possible in your answers.

Question 7. Plan for large-scale activity in the Hub from 2022

Describe or explain how your proposed activity will support longer-term, large-scale trials or commercially viable operations of hydrogen-powered equipment or infrastructure in the Tees Valley area from 2022 onwards.

Include a substantive plan for activity in the Hub, post-2022, which includes a forecast of demand for hydrogen over the period 2022-2032.

Make clear how your activity proposed for 2021 to 2022 will support and or inform this longer-term activity.

Question 8. Wider impacts

In considering the wider impacts of your project, you must also consider the impact associated with the longer-term activity, beyond 2022 and outlined in Question 5, that this project is designed to facilitate.

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
  • broader industry
  • the UK economy

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 social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 9. 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, 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 10. 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, 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 11. Additionality

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • whether this project can 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 12. 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 subcontractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

(Text update 9 June 2021: we have added instruction on not including costs for an extension to the 3-month demonstration start and end date.)
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.

If you have been given permission to extend your demonstration period after 31 March 2021 you must not include any costs incurred after this date in your finances.

Background and further information

The funding for this competition is from the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of the UK government’s ambition to build a fully operational Hydrogen Transport Hub by 2025.

The hub could be a global leader in the green hydrogen sector from an innovation and deployment perspective.

Any future hub will be bringing together academia, industry, and government to drive forward the UK’s plans to understand and embrace the use of hydrogen in support of zero-emission transportation.

Contact us

If you need more information about how to apply email or call 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).

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