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Driving the electric revolution: Building regional centres of excellence

Overview:

Up to £30million 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.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is to invest up to £30million 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 aim of this competition is to provide funding to establish the centres, building on existing capabilities and expertise where it already exists. The centres will support the industrialisation of PEMD technologies to help accelerate the growth of the UK’s supply chains for PEMD. The centres must be open access facilities that support the development, prototyping and scaling of PEMD technologies and manufacturing processes.

Innovate UK will fund:

  • The investment in capital equipment needed to create the centres
  • Operational costs to enable the centres to become established up to the end of 31 March 2024

You must provide the remaining operational investment necessary over the centres’ lifetimes, which is expected to be at least 10 years, through your own investment and leveraging industry funding.

Open Date:

23/10/2019

Close Date:

04/12/2019

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 seven 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 leverage a further £82million of industry investment alongside the ISCF funding by March 2024. This can be directly into the capital assets of the centres at their inception, such as funding equipment or the costs associated with the host buildings, or through project activity 100% funded by industry.

Innovate UK expect the centres to establish themselves as quickly as possible, reflecting the urgent needs of industry and the rapid pace of electrification. Therefore, within 18 months of grant award, Innovate UK expect the winning proposal to have invested in the equipment, commissioned it ready for use and opened the centres.

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

The centres are expected to work as one joined-up single entity during their creation and operating lifetime, with a single process to work with users of the facilities, regardless of location. Innovate UK expect the centres to undertake business development activities to find users, including working with partners to promote the centres in the UK and internationally.

Innovate UK envisage between two and four regional centres, reflecting the UK’s existing PEMD clusters. This does not mean that the ISCF investment is only in these physical locations or in just these buildings or sites. One regional centre could mean investment in a small number of sites within that region if that reflects the best delivery structure. You must justify why the locations proposed are appropriate to achieve the overall ambition of the centres and contribute to the UK’s PEMD community and growth.

Once established, the centres will be expected to play a major role in the remainder of the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge until March 2024, and beyond during its operational phase. This will include the centres joining the challenge’s Programme Board within UK Research and Innovation. The centres will also be encouraged to apply to undertake collaborative R&D projects through future competitions delivered by the challenge, on an equal competitive basis with other applicants. The centres (and/or the legal entities that underpin them) will also be expected to bid into other programme for relevant funding.

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

The successful project will be funded as either:

  • A research organisation as defined in the Research, Development and Innovation Framework (2014) and therefore classed as non-state aid
  • A predominantly commercial undertaking either under the GBER (2014) or a model that is exempt from consideration as state aid by the European Commission

In either case applicants must demonstrate how their proposal complies with the definition under GBER, both in the establishment of a centre and in their operation of it.

The centres must remain compliant with their status under the award, for the duration of the UK Research and Innovation funding period.

Innovate UK expect your total eligible project costs to be up to £50million by 31 March 2024.

Innovate UK are funding a single project that will create between two and four regional centres around the UK.

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.

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.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £30million to fund a single project in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

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

Along with the independent assessment, Innovate UK will also review applications for compliance. If necessary, Innovate UK will contact applicants directly and might ask you to provide further information during this process.

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. Innovate UK have a target of £82million 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.

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Collaborative research and development for industrial research or experimental development projects
  • Centres that propose to carry out fundamental research, as this is already carried out in existing centres funded by UKRI
  • Projects that duplicate capability or conflict with existing investments and capabilities, whether funded by UK Research and Innovation or not
  • Projects that require ISCF funding for new buildings to be built
  • Skills and training activity
  • Projects that do not establish open access facilities focused on the development and scale up of PEMD technologies and manufacturing processes

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.