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Zero emission road freight strand 3: Supply chain technology


UK-registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £10million for feasibility studies and industrial research in supply chain technology.

The Department for Transport (DfT) will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £10million in innovation projects.

This investment is for advanced feasibility studies and industrial research in supply chain technology.

Your project can be for the future use of zero emission trucks, including battery electric trucks, hydrogen fuel cell trucks, or trucks which will be operated on an electric road system.

The competition strands are:

There is a related SBRI procurement competition supporting uptake of battery electric trucks.

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £250,000.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to fund ambitious industry-led research into supply chain technology for zero emission capable freight vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and the supporting infrastructure.

Your proposal must:

  • Address the challenges associated with the transition to zero emission road freight
  • Define a solution to the technical challenges to developing or operating zero emission trucks

Your project

At the end of the feasibility study or industrial research, your project must have reached one of the following stages:

  • Be ready to continue in future R&D competitions
  • Be able to raise private sector investment to take the project outcome to market

Examples of technologies in scope include:

  • Electrification of conventional powertrains towards zero emission, including hybridisation
  • New and novel e-powertrains solutions where the project does not include costs related to any conventional engine R&D work
  • Hydrogen projects where the innovation focuses on fuel cell development or use of hydrogen to produce electricity
  • Zero carbon emission combustion technologies which offer an immediately deployable solution and are considerate and reflective of air quality requirements
  • Retrofit of existing vehicles to support their operation on a catenary or other electric road system solution
  • Trailer technologies that enable zero emission capability for the tractor unit, including auxiliary power systems, such as for refrigeration or trailer equipment.
  • Efficiency improvements specific to zero emission heavy goods vehicles
  • Technologies which enable the construction and scalable installation of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure or electric road system infrastructure
  • Hydrogen refuelling or electric road system infrastructure system or subsystem innovations
  • Innovations in the interface between hydrogen supply (refuelling) and the vehicle

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Your project can:

  • Address well to wheel (life cycle) savings for HGVs
  • Consider any use-cycles, including urban, regional and trunking
  • Be for future use on zero emission trucks, including electric trucks, hydrogen fuel cell trucks or trucks which will be operated on an electric road system

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects across the three strands of this competition.

The programme reserves the right to adjust the distribution of funding across zero emission road freight competitions.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following to address the challenges associated with the transition to zero emission road freight:

  • Power electronics, machines and drives
  • Energy storage and energy management
  • Lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures
  • Infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling and electric road systems
  • Highly disruptive zero emission technologies

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £100,000 and £250,000.
  • Start by 01 July 2021
  • End by 31 March 2022

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Collaborate with other UK-registered businesses, RTO, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If the lead organisation is an RTO, it must collaborate with two businesses.Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation, research 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

In a collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

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.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case for why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

A business or RTO can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further two applications.

If an RTO is not leading any application, it can collaborate in any number of applications.

Academic institutions, public sector organisations and charities can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

European Commission State aid

You must apply under European Commission State aid rules if you are an applicant who is conducting activities that will affect trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

In certain limited circumstances, the European Commission State aid rules may also apply if you are an organisation located in England, Wales, or Scotland and conduct activities that affect the trade of goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. For further information, please see section 7 of the BEIS technical guidance.

For further information see the general guidance on state aid and BEIS guidance on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

For applicants subject to the European Commission State aid rules, applicants will be required to prove that they were not an “Undertaking in Difficulty” on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UID between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. Innovate UK will ask for evidence of this.

Further information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, please take independent legal advice.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.
This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, they will tell you as soon as possible.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £10million to fund innovation projects in this 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 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 50% if you are a large organisation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% 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.

Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • Dedicated internal combustion engine projects
  • About energy production including hydrogen and renewables
  • Business as usual projects which maintain the status quo or do not demonstrate a high degree of innovation
  • Focused on developing zero carbon fuels or sustainable fuels
  • Dealing with technologies focused on off-highway vehicles
  • About fleet charging or related to the electric vehicle charging, including ‘vehicle to grid’
  • Dedicated manufacturing optimisation or improvement projects
  • Technologies which improve truck aerodynamics
  • Dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • Dependent on domestic inputs usage- for example if it was insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product

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.