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Catalysing Green Innovation: Strand 2: Securing the future of ZEV


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £10million to research and develop technologies to help secure future zero emission vehicles innovation.

Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 to UK industry, Driving Electric Revolution, part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) are collaborating to invest up to £15million in innovation projects that will support the UK’s continued push towards net zero.

This is part of a larger effort to catalyse the green economic recovery in transport, energy and industrial sectors.

There are two strands in this competition:

  1. Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 1: Advancing PEMD supply chain
  2. Catalysing Green Innovation: strand 2: Securing the future of ZEV

In this strand, OLEV is working with Innovate UK to invest up to £10million in innovative feasibility studies and R&D projects. These are six-month rapid-delivery projects to develop on-vehicle and charging technologies that will secure the future of the zero emission vehicles (ZEV) industry in the UK.

Projects must be ready to start on 1 October 2020.

The lead organisation must be a UK-registered business.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The Department for Transport’s Road to Zero strategy sets out a clear pathway to zero emissions and gives clarity and certainty to both industry and motorists. The strategy defines zero emission vehicles as those with no greenhouse gas or air pollutant tailpipe emissions.

Since 2009, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has considered an ultra-low emission vehicle to be a car or van that emits less than 75 grams of CO2 per km from the tailpipe measured against the European test cycle.

Given the advancements in technology over the past decade, OLEV expects new developments for these vehicles to reduce emissions to a much lower level. Therefore, Innovate UK expect proposals for this competition to meet the definition for zero emission vehicles or to target emissions significantly lower than 75 grams of CO2 per km.

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of feasibility studies and research and development projects, across a variety of zero emission vehicle technologies and technological maturities. Research and development projects must show a significant value-add and exploitation from the preceding feasibility study or collaborative research and development project with clear and distinctive scope and deliverables.

Your project must:

  • Be able to continue the technology development in future research and development competitions
  • And/or be able to raise private sector investment to take the project outcome to market

Innovate UK welcome applications for desk-based projects focusing on:

  • Design, modelling and simulation of both sub-system and overall vehicle system (including charging), and their relative energy efficiency business model development

On-vehicle technologies in scope

Innovate UK are keen to see proposals which include or focus on advances in power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) for automotive applications. Technology transfer projects from other transport or energy sectors are welcome.

Projects on battery technologies are in scope in this competition. Innovate UK are keen to see proposals in the following areas: advancement of battery performance for automotive applications (including HGVs) across the battery value chain (cell materials, cells, modules and packs); tools to improve efficiency of battery design, manufacture, testing, monitoring and diagnostics; battery recycling.

Technologies in scope include:

  • Electrification of conventional powertrains (or electrified powertrains) where the project does not include grant funded activities related to any conventional engine R&D work, but can include minor costs related to the integration of a zero-emission technology with a conventional engine for demonstration purposes
  • Hybridisation technologies which focus on increasing the capability of the electrified or non-internal combustion engine element of the powertrain
  • Technologies that significantly increase the efficiency of the powertrain or auxiliary systems
  • Hydrogen technologies that focus on fuel cell development or the use of hydrogen for the production of electricity

Range extender technologies

It is recognised that to accelerate electric vehicle uptake, user anxiety around the range of electric vehicles still needs to be addressed. One way this can be achieved is by using alternative vehicle propulsions or electricity generators that allow for extended mileage in long trips.

New and advanced range extender (REX) technologies that provide a source of propulsion but achieve a significant reduction in the current grams of CO2 per km from the tailpipe over the relevant legislative cycle are in scope for this competition. The vehicle must be capable of driving at full power on the zero-emission technology only. The range extender must not be capable of propelling the vehicle at full power by itself. The zero-emission range should be at least 70 miles, although Innovate UK will prioritise projects with a zero-emission range of 100 miles.

Vehicle types

Innovate UK encourage projects that cover both niche and mainstream on-road vehicles.

On-highway and off-highway vehicles category L, M, N and O (trailers for HGVs), T, G and emergency vehicles are all in scope.

Projects for medium and heavy good vehicles (over 7.5 tonnes) must provide significant emission reduction and focus on the delivery of zero tailpipe emissions. This includes electrification of the main vehicle power source and use of hydrogen fuel cells. Projects that address well to wheel (lifecycle) savings for HGVs will also be in scope. HGV projects will be considered for all use cycles, including urban, regional and trunking.

EV Charging

EV charging projects are in scope in this competition.

For feasibility studies, Innovate UK are keen to see proposals in the following areas: EVSE supply chain, EV data, advanced grid services, services integration, roaming, standards and interoperability, procurement, fleet and HGV charging solutions.

For R&D projects, Innovate UK will accept proposals in the following areas: EV charging services and integrations, business models for OnStreet, Wireless and/or V1G/V2G.

R&D Project requirements

Your project must:

  • Add demonstrable value to the outcomes of your previous project
  • Develop on-vehicle or EV charging technologies, speeding up their introduction to the market
  • Focus on highly integrated vehicle/charging systems, parts and/or cost reduction
  • Justify how the technology improves overall vehicle/charging efficiency and lifecycle efficiency.
  • Validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example through a mule or adapted current production vehicle for higher maturity technologies
  • Where applicable define appropriate representative real-world operating conditions, and a suitable comparator technology or vehicle against which the project will measure the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) baseline and improvements
  • Provide evidence that the durability, integrity and safety of any technology proposed is in line with industry expectations
  • Show that you can realistically produce the technology at a price the market is willing to pay when commercialising
  • Show how the future supply chain will be developed.
  • Show a clear route to market including appropriate business models to exploit the technology commercially
  • Show a reduction of the environmental impact of the technology including resource efficiency and end of life options such as recycling, remanufacturing and/or reuse
  • Identify an appropriate end customer(s) or route to commercialisation.

Specific themes

Your on-vehicle project can focus on one or more of the following technical areas:

  • Power electronics, machines and drives
  • Energy storage (including batteries) and energy management
  • Lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures
  • Highly disruptive zero emission technologies

Projects must start on 1 October 2020 and end by 31 March 2021. They can last up to six months with no extensions beyond this point.

Total project cost must be between £100,000 and £500,000.

Funding can only be claimed for project costs incurred no later than 31 March 2021.

Innovate UK encourage single participant applications from UK-registered businesses of any size.

A maximum of two collaborators are allowed for multiple participant applications.

Your R&D project must:

  • Build on a project previously supported by Innovate UK which must have completed by 30 September 2020
  • Benefit significantly from additional R&D funding
  • Demonstrate funding costs are distinct and separate from any other project

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions and RTOs cannot lead projects.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead organisation your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic organisation, charity, 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
  • Enter its costs into the Innovation Funding Service after being invited by the lead applicant.

Academic institutions must have their research personnel ready to start at the beginning of the project.

Single applicants and partners in collaborations must claim funding by entering their costs into the Innovation Funding Service during the application.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK/European Economic Area (EEA). Innovate UK would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any eligible UK-registered business can lead on or be the single applicant on any number of applications and collaborate on any number of further applications.

An academic institution or RTO cannot lead on an application.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £10million to fund innovation feasibility studies and research and development projects in this strand of the 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 feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for 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 organisations undertaking non-economic activities as part of the project in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

This competition provides state aid funding under Article 25: ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK will not fund:

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.