Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with industry to invest up to £10 million in innovation projects.
As part of the Future Economy Net Zero programme, this competition will focus on net zero propulsion. This programme will support the government’s drive for zero emission transport and systems as part of the net zero commitment for 2050.
Your proposal must align to the scope of this competition.
The aim of this competition, as part of the Innovate UK funded net zero mobility programme, is to support future propulsion technologies for the transport sector.
Innovate UK will fund collaborative research projects covering propulsion technologies only. Your project must demonstrate significant improvements in net zero propulsion technologies which may apply across multiple transport modes.
The programme aims to build on previous sector specific mobility programmes by creating a cross-sector platform. You are encouraged to apply your knowledge and capability to adjacent transport sectors including automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail.
Your project must focus on one or more of the following transport sectors:
- Maritime: Clean maritime technologies for all sizes and categories of maritime vessel are in scope. Solutions can be suitable for one target size of vessel or multiple. Leisure and commercial vessels are in scope.
- Rail: Technologies can target all locomotive classes including those for freight and passenger carrying services and carriages.
- Automotive: Technologies can cover both niche and mainstream on and off-road vehicles. This includes categories L (mopeds and motorcycles only), M (car and passenger carrying) and N (goods vehicles). Construction vehicles and special use vehicles such as emergency vehicles (for example, ambulances and fire engines), refuse collection vehicles, and recreational vehicles (for example, motorhomes) are also eligible. There are restrictions on the use of hydrogen combustion.
- Aerospace: Technologies for drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), advanced air mobility (AAM), electric or hybrid passenger aircraft.
Your project must address one or more of the following:
- improved range and overall system performance capability
- decreased total cost of ownership
- adoption of and transition to zero emission end products
- strengthening of the UK supply chain
Your proposal must demonstrate a need by including an end customer such as Tier 1 or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) within your consortium. They can be a funded partner or non-funded project adviser.
You will be required to demonstrate a strong route to market position as part of your application.
Your project must:
- develop on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies that deliver net zero solutions, speeding up their introduction to the market.
- develop technologies for new or retrofit applications, focused on highly integrated vehicle systems and cost reduction
- justify how the technology achieves overall vehicle efficiency, as individual part or component improvement is not in scope, unless there is also consideration of overall system impact
- deliver commercial, societal and environmental impact from your innovation
- benefit the UK plc, for example by growing and securing the UK’s supply chain, increasing capability, whilst improving productivity, efficiency and competitiveness
- evidence that your solutions are closely aligned with industry priorities to deliver business orientated opportunities
- significantly improve overall vehicle or vessel efficiency and lifecycle CO2 emissions
- if applicable, validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example in a testbed, through a development mule or an adapted current production vehicle or vessel for higher maturity technologies
Your proposal can describe how you will manage:
- the circularity of the materials used and end of life pathways for example, reuse and recycling
- compliance with regulation and how you will work with relevant regulatory bodies for novel technologies in the future
- the production and commercialisation of your technology at a price the market is willing to pay
By the end of your project, you must deliver a technology advancement. This must advance your innovation to between experimental proof of concept and validation in a relevant environment.
Your project must advance technologies in one or more of the following areas:
- electric propulsion technologies
- fuel cells for electric propulsion
- PEMD (power electronics machines and drives) systems for electrified powertrains for vehicles, locomotives or vessels
- energy storage technologies (excluding batteries) and energy management software and controls
- integration (system or component level) of electric propulsion technologies
- range extenders that are zero emission and do not emit greenhouse gases, this can include on vehicle energy generation
- on platform fuel storage, including hydrogen tanks
- hydrogen internal combustion engine technologies, with restricted use on certain applications such as non-road applications
- energy efficient electrification for traction and non-traction rail vehicles, and bi-mode locomotives (hydrogen and battery powered)
- wind propulsion, including soft-sail, fixed-sail, rotor, kite and turbine technologies
Your project must:
- have total costs between £250,000 and £1.5 million
- have a maximum project duration of 18 months
- start by 1 August 2023
- claim the grant funding by 31 March 2025
- carry out all of its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
You must only include eligible project costs in your application.
Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be a UK registered business of any size
- collaborate with other UK registered organisations, academic institutions, research and technology organisations, charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
- be or involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
- Academic institutions, research and technology organisations, charities, not for profit organisations and public sector organisations cannot lead a project.
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
A business, can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further 2 applications.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
Innovate UK are not funding projects that:
- do not address net zero mobility propulsion
- are battery developments, for example, battery materials or cell development
- are fuel or energy vector developments, such as sustainable fuels, synthetic fuels, bio-based fuels, manufacturing of fuels, including the production of hydrogen or ammonia
- are for off-vehicle technologies such as vehicle or vessel charging solutions
- are based around internal combustion engines (ICE) which emit greenhouse gases (GHG) or hybrid engines which include GHG emitting components
- focus on micro mobility
- have materials development or light weighting the platform (for example materials or light weighting on the platform which is not part of the propulsion system or vehicle structures)
- are manufacturing technologies for new propulsion systems
- are auxiliary systems, for example, refrigeration units
- are propellor or propulsor design which does not include any other aspects of integration
- are business as usual and do not demonstrate significant innovation
- do not benefit the UK
For projects focused on hydrogen combustion, we cannot fund projects, where the transport application falls into the one or more of the following classifications:
- light commercial vehicles under 7.5t, category N, O 1 to 3
- buses of any weight or size classification, category M2 and M3
- motor caravan, campervan, motorhome
- lorries (trucks), 2 axles or more with a maximum gross weight (tonnes) of 7.5 or above
- special purpose vehicle including emergency response vehicles
Innovate UK cannot fund projects that are:
- dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
- dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product
Up to £10 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.
If 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.
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 35% if you are a large organisation
The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 20% 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.
Of that 20% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:
- 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
- 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation