Driving the Electric Revolution: Building Regional Centres of Excellence

Key Features

Up to £30 million is available to create regional centres of excellence for the development, prototyping and scale up of power electronics, machines and drives technologies. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Up to £30 million

Opens: 23rd Oct 2019

Closes: 4th Dec 2019

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £30 million in a single project to create a network of regional centres. The centres will be used by industry and researchers for the development and scale up of power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) technologies. The funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).


The aim of this competition is to provide funding to establish a network of flagship physical centres. These are for the development and scale up of PEMD technologies and manufacturing processes, building on existing capabilities and expertise.

They will undertake industrialisation activities to support the growth of the UK’s PEMD supply chain, providing a location, equipment and staff expertise to undertake projects. They will not perform fundamental research as this is already funded through existing centres.

The centres must focus on all 7 of the industry sectors identified by the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge, including all levels of their supply chains from Tier N suppliers to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These are:

  1. Aerospace.
  2. Automotive.
  3. Energy (generation and distribution).
  4. Industrial (such as production equipment, robots or lighting).
  5. Marine.
  6. Off highway (such as construction or agricultural equipment).
  7. Rail.

The centres must help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop and scale new PEMD technologies. You must state how you aim to achieve this.

The centres must:

  • be open access
  • work with all parts of the UK’s PEMD supply chain, from SMEs to OEMs
  • work with a range of PEMD technologies from opening, based on the needs of users
  • resemble and operate as industrial scale manufacturing and development facilities, but with greater flexibility
  • support activities and projects (funded by industry or other sources and supported by industry) that develop future PEMD solutions and manufacturing processes
  • build on existing centres of excellence already operating
  • use capability and knowledge from within your organisation or your consortium partners
  • link to and work with other locations, universities or centres that undertake fundamental research in PEMD
  • not directly replicate existing capabilities in the UK
  • commit to work with other partners, stakeholders and organisations around the UK not involved in the consortium but who still offer critical capabilities in PEMD

Your proposal must set out:

  • how your team are building on existing investments and capabilities to deliver a world class network of centres for PEMD development and scale up
  • why your organisation or the organisations in your collaboration are the best placed to deliver the regional centres and contribute to the overall objectives of the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge
  • what you will invest the ISCF funding in and what it will buy across the locations proposed, including how this aligns with your project team’s existing assets, capability and knowledge
  • your co-investment from industry and other sources
  • your operating model, for at least 10 years
  • how you will work with users of the centres, from SMEs to large businesses
  • the support you have had from, and work you have done with, industrial users of the proposed equipment and capabilities to demonstrate the clear industry need for the proposed facilities
  • how you will work with the wide ‘ecosystem’ of existing stakeholders, research centres and programmes

More information regarding the objectives and operational requirements of the Centres, is available in the guidance for applicants for this competition – click here.


To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, a research organisation or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • show you can leverage industry investment alongside the ISCF funding
  • demonstrate clear industry support for your application
  • have demonstrable expertise in power electronics, machines and drives
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions cannot work alone.

The lead organisation must demonstrate ability and experience in running large-scale research and innovation grant awards, including large capital investments.

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, research organisation, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project is a collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

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.

The winning proposal for this competition will form a major part of the delivery of the overall Driving the Electric Revolution challenge and as such will be expected to work with the other parts of the programme in a collaborative manner.

The centres will be expected to attend all cohort meetings with other collaborative projects funded by the Challenge to share non-commercially sensitive results and best practice, and to encourage further collaboration and project opportunities.

Funding Costs

Up to £30 million has been allocated to fund a single project in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

It is expected that your total eligible project costs to be up to £50 million by 31 March 2024.

Funding from UK Research and Innovation must end by 31 March 2024. This will be the end of ‘the project’ with regard to the grant draw down. The centres must operate for 10 years in total from the date of the funding agreement being signed.

The centres -should invest their funding in capital equipment, ideally within the first 18 months. This is to enable themselves as operational and open for business. You must set this out in your application, including a detailed plan for the investment necessary to equip the centres.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, has the right to consider alternative funding mechanisms, such as a loan or repayable grant. This will be dependent on:

  • the business model proposed by the successful applicant
  • the level of non-economic activity anticipated
  • considerations of state aid compliance
  • best value for the taxpayer

You can apply for funding support of up to 100% of your eligible project costs if you are a non-profit distributing research organisation. In this case, you must demonstrate how the co-funding for investment in the centres will be contributed to the project.

Innovate UK expect investment levels from industry and other sources to be significant. They have a target of £82 million of leverage from industry up to March 2024. The successful application must show how the proposed centres will operate at all times in compliance with its proposed status, whether as a research organisation or another compliant model, for the duration of the Innovate UK funded period. Your project’s compliance will be checked through periodic audits.

You must state how much economic and non-economic activity you will undertake as part of your operating model. Set out how this will be managed, reported and audited to Innovate UK.