Proof of Concept Competition

Key Features

The Niche Vehicle Network 2022 Proof of Concept Competition provides a platform for collaborative research and development in the area of low carbon vehicle technologies within the UK niche vehicle sector. It is funded by Innovate UK, delivered by the Niche Vehicle Network with support from Cenex.

Programme:     Niche Vehicle Network

Award:     Share of up to £300,000

Opens: 21st Jul 2022

Closes: 18th Aug 2022

! This scheme is now closed


The Competition is open to niche vehicle manufacturers, system suppliers and design/engineering or technology organisations active in the UK specialist and low volume manufacturing sector who wish to collaborate on innovative, industry-led projects that support the transition to zero emission transportation. Projects need to demonstrate the accelerated development of technologies based around one or more of the following areas, directly applicable to on-road or industrial and agricultural off highway, zero emission UK niche vehicles:

  • Electric machines and power electronics
  • Energy storage and energy management systems
  • Fuel cells and associated systems
  • On-board hydrogen storage
  • Lightweight vehicle body, chassis and powertrain structures [1]
  • Aerodynamics for improved energy efficiency
  • Other disruptive low carbon vehicle technologies

The following technologies are out of scope and ineligible for funding in this competition:

  • Development of AI systems, autonomous systems & associated software
  • Development of systems modelling or simulation tools
  • Hybrids
  • Conversions of internal combustion engines (ICE) to run on alternative or synthetic ‘e’ fuels
  • Activities related to any conventional engine R&D work – including range extenders
  • Fuels & lubricants
  • Off-board vehicle charging solutions, including Vehicle to grid

Applicants should ensure that their application into this competition is based upon an appropriate stage of development or technology readiness which has already been achieved. For Proof of Concept the consortium should already have established the technical and commercial feasibility of their concept through a previous feasibility study or similar investigation, and now aims to develop and produce a proof of concept or first prototype which it can demonstrate as applicable for zero emission UK niche vehicles.


Funding is restricted to technologies applicable to powered, wheeled or tracked road-going or industrial and agricultural off highway zero emission UK niche vehicles. A niche vehicle manufacturer is defined as an independent UK based vehicle manufacturer producing less than 10,000 vehicles per year. Projects must be industry led, aiming to support the growth, productivity and competitiveness of the UK niche vehicle sector. The programme therefore focuses on technologies applicable to low-volume UK production.

Projects must be collaborative and industry-led by an SME. The consortium should ideally include a niche vehicle manufacturer, tier 1 supplier or vehicle fleet operator. The competition is aimed primarily at SMEs, but it is permissible to include one large company or other large organisation (such as a university or RTO) in each consortium. Two large companies may only participate where one is a niche vehicle manufacturer, tier 1 supplier or vehicle fleet operator, and the other is an RTO, University or University Group Company. The maximum number of partners in each consortium is 4, the minimum is 2 (including the lead partner).

Vehicle / Sector Types

The following vehicle types are in scope:

Powered, wheeled or tracked road-going or industrial and agricultural off highway zero emission UK niche vehicles:

  • Motorbikes, quadricycles, cars, light commercial vehicles, taxis, last mile delivery vehicles
  • Buses, commercial, municipal, agricultural & construction vehicles
  • Special purpose vehicles (ambulances, fire & rescue etc)
  • E-bikes, e-trikes, e-cargo bikes, e-scooters, e-micro mobility

The following vehicle types are out of scope:

  • Dedicated motorsport and race vehicles
  • Marine, rail, aerospace and drones
  • Any vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE), including hybrids or conversions of ICE to run on gaseous / alternative / zero carbon / synthetic ‘e’ fuels.

Funding Costs

Maximum share per partner:
50% (consortiums of 3 or 4 companies) or 70% (consortiums of 2 companies)

  •  Maximum total project costs: £300,000
  •  Maximum total project grant: £150,000
  •  Minimum total project costs: £150,000
  •  Maximum project grant intervention rate: 50%
  •  Maximum partner grant intervention rate: 50%
  •  Large companies cannot receive >30% of total project grant
  •  Number of partners (including Lead) per project: 2 to 4

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.