Canada-UK Net Zero Value Chains – Transportation

Key Features

UK registered businesses and Canadian SMEs can apply to collaborate on joint R&D projects that enable the transition to net zero for the automotive, rail, or maritime sectors.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 4th Apr 2022

Closes: 29th Jun 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to invest a total of up to £4 million in innovation projects. These will enable transition to net zero for the automotive, rail, or maritime transportation sectors.


The aim of this competition is to foster and support collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships.

Your joint Canadian and UK project must focus on innovations that enable transition to net zero transportation, for the automotive, rail, or maritime sectors. Your project can address on-vehicle, including locomotives, or on-vessel technologies, processes, or technology-based services.

This competition covers 4 themes in net zero on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies:

1. Low and zero emission propulsion.

2. Advanced sustainable materials and manufacturing.

3. Highly disruptive technologies.

4. Assistive technologies and control systems.

Technology transfer projects from other transport or energy sectors, or projects that span across multiple sectors are welcome.

A project in the automotive sector can cover both niche and mainstream on-road vehicles and off-road vehicles, including mopeds, motorcycles, passenger and goods vehicles and trailers, agricultural, construction vehicles, and special use vehicles.

A project in the rail sector can target all locomotive classes including those for freight and passenger carrying services and carriages.

A project in the maritime sector can include a range of ship types from small vessels to large cargo carriers.

Your project must:

  • develop on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies that deliver net zero solutions, speeding up their introduction to the market
  • justify how the technology improves overall vehicle or vessel efficiency and lifecycle CO2 emissions
  • validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example in a testbed or through a development mule or adapted current production vehicle or vessel for higher maturity technologies
  • deliver the technology at a lower cost than today without compromising safety or capability
  • consider approach to manufacturing including at the target scale and using advanced processes
  • show a clear route to market including appropriate business models to exploit the technology commercially and identify an appropriate end customer(s)
  • show a reduction of the environmental impact of the technology including resource efficiency and end of life options such as recycling, remanufacturing or reuse

Specific Themes

Your application must focus on at least one of the following themes. If your project spans more than one theme, you must select the one that reflects the majority of work and clearly state the other themes within your application.

If your application does not directly fit with the themes described below, you can contact Innovate UK or NRC IRAP International Office who will be able to advise on eligibility.

Your project can focus on one or more of the examples listed for each theme.

1. Low and zero emission propulsion:

  • power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) systems for electrified powertrains for vehicles, locomotives or vessels, including retrofitting of fossil fuel internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs or FCEVs
  • hydrogen and fuel cell (FC) technologies
  • low emission carbon neutral propulsion, including range extenders (ICE or FC) and hydrogen ICE
  • energy storage technologies (including batteries) and energy management software and controls
  • energy efficient electrification for traction and non-traction rail vehicles, and bi-mode locomotives (hydrogen and battery powered)
  • vessel propulsion that uses batteries, fuel cells, hybrids, or engines with low carbon alternative fuels such as hydrogen, methanol or ammonia
  • on-vessel power generation and fuel production to reduce GHGs, e.g. wind turbines, solar panels and synthetic fuel production

2. Advanced sustainable materials and manufacturing:

  • sustainable lightweight materials, including processes, composites and joining, for vehicle and vessel panels and structures
  • additive manufacturing processes for complex structural vehicle and vessel components
  • advanced methods for corrosion resistance and durability improvement in multi materials including composites, metal, and ceramic blends, and novel materials
  • materials and manufacturing processes for batteries, fuel cells and PEMD
  • extraction or recovery, recycling and remanufacturing reuse processes for critical valuable materials used in devices such as fuel cells, batteries and electric powertrains

3. Highly disruptive technologies:

  • technologies or processes that significantly increase the efficiency of the powertrain or reduce the energy demand of auxiliary systems
  • advanced design methods and tools for aerodynamic vehicle (or hydrodynamic vessel) designs, including simulation and modelling, and design for manufacture
  • energy transmission technologies that efficiently deliver power to vehicles or vessels such as battery recharging and connectivity
  • novel electrochemical catalysts or membranes for the conversion of CO2 emissions into low or net zero carbon fuels including syngas and ethanol
  • on-board hydrogen technologies to power the drive or auxiliaries in passenger or freight rail systems
  • technologies that optimize rail vehicle ventilation systems and climate control for healthier travel

4. Assistive technologies and control systems:

  • autonomous mobility technologies from platooning, to ADAS and last mile delivery solutions that provide direct and indirect efficiency savings
  • technologies that increase safety and operational efficiency via in-service remote health monitoring
  • smart shipping technologies delivering quantifiable energy efficiency savings and GHG emission reductions
  • technologies to support automated train and track inspections such as machine vision and AI
  • optimisation of fleet energy efficiency



Canadian funding applicants are required to register and submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) before being eligible to apply for this competition.

The registration deadline for Canadian SMEs is 9 May 2022.

Canadian funding applicants who do not complete an EoI and have not been invited to proceed will not be eligible for funding through this competition.

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of no more than £300,000 allocated to UK organisations
  • have a grant funding request of no more than CA$500,000 allocated to each eligible Canadian SME
  • start by 1 January 2023
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 12 and 24 months

Projects should have a balanced contribution of the total eligible project costs among the partners from the participating partner countries.

No one country or project partner can represent more than 70% of the total project cost.

The majority of the project work must be undertaken in the UK and Canada.

Your proposal must demonstrate a clear intention to commercially exploit the results of the project domestically or globally.

To lead a project your organisation must be either:

  • a UK registered business of any size


  • a Canadian registered small or medium enterprise (SME)

Your collaboration must include at least one grant claiming UK registered sme and one eligible Canadian registered SME.

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following:

  • UK registered business of any size
  • UK registered academic institution
  • UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Canadian SME
  • Canadian research organisation

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition, but are limited to no more than 20% of your organisation’s total eligible costs.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • are not covered by any of the 4 specific themes
  • focus on the aviation sector
  • focus on micro-mobility
  • focus on development of fossil fuels or zero carbon fuels and their combustion
  • focus purely on production scale up activities and supply chain development
  • focus on factory-based vehicles, including forklift trucks
  • focus on physical infrastructure including those which support low and zero emission vehicles and vessels, for example vehicle charging
  • are business as usual projects
  • are dependent on export performance
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage
  • involve R&D related to products, processes, or technological-based services with military or non-peaceful applications

Funding Costs

Selected collaborative R&D projects will be eligible to receive funding from their respective national funding body. Up to £2 million and up to CA$3 million, an equivalent of £4 million in total, has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

UK Organisations

If the majority of 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 participation for UK organisations

UK research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the UK’s total grant requested. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a UK Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are a UK registered RTO

Canadian SMEs

NRC IRAP will provide a maximum contribution of up to CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project. Canadian SMEs may receive up to 50% reimbursement of eligible project costs.

Canadian SME applicants must be registered as NRC IRAP clients to be considered for funding through this competition.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.