Low emission vehicle innovation sought with £40m funding

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK launch two £20m funding schemes aimed at cutting road transport air pollution

Two £20 million government-backed funding schemes to help foster the design of lighter vehicles and emissions-reduction technology will open to entries in August and September.

The two competitions represent a total of £40m funding for low emission technologies

The two competitions represent a total of £40m funding for low emission technologies

Both funding competitions are aimed at UK businesses and are being run by the government’s technology strategy board — Innovate UK — and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The first of the two schemes to launch will see £20 million invested in research and development projects aimed at significantly reducing the mass of road-going vehicles in order to cut fuel-use and emissions.

Innovate UK said it aimed to “bring together and develop the best UK supply chain capability and expertise in the areas of advanced lightweight materials, as well as system and sub-system redesign and innovation, to make significant and necessary leaps in road vehicle weight reduction in order to reduce CO2 and other emissions”.

Successful projects through the lightweight vehicle design scheme are expected to range in size from total costs of £2-5 million and to last between 18 and 36 months, although projects outside these ranges may also be considered.

According to Innovate UK, small businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%. Successful projects will also have the opportunity for follow-up support via the recently-opened Advanced Propulsion Centre to further develop products towards commercialisation (see story).

Competition rules state that proposals must be collaborative and led by a UK-based business organisation, with funding aimed at mainly industrial research activity. Consortia must include at least one vehicle manufacturer or Tier 1 supplier.

The two-stage competition will open for applications later this month on August 24. The deadline for registrations will then fall on October 7 2015, before the final deadline for applications on 14 October at noon.

Applicants will be informed as to whether they have reached the second stage of the competition by November 13, with an interview panel for those reaching the second stage taking place during the week commencing January 26 2016.

Technology competition

Meanwhile, applications also open on September 7 2015 for another £20 million competition, with funding aimed at feasibility studies and collaborative research and development projects to encourage technology to deliver “significant reductions in CO2 and other emissions” from road vehicles.

Proposals are being sought which focus on one or more of the following:

  • electric machines and power electronics
  • energy storage and energy management
  • lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures
  • internal combustion engines
  • highly disruptive technologies which will significantly accelerate the reduction of CO2 and other emissions beyond the route achieved through standard product development projects

For the technical feasibility study, proposals must be business-led and may be collaborative or from an individual company. Total project costs for the feasibility study are expected up to £250,000, although projects outside this range may be considered.

Collaborative research and development proposals, on the other hand, must be both collaborative and business-led, with projects sought in the region of £500,000 to £3 million, although other sizes may be considered.

Again, it is expected that successful projects will be in a position to apply to an Advanced Propulsion Centre-supported competition.

After the competition opens on September 7, the subsequent deadline for registration is at noon on 21 October 2015, while the deadline for applications is at noon on 28 October 2015.

According to Innovate UK:

“The automotive sector has made great progress recently in reducing the carbon emissions from its vehicles and achieved its regulatory targets two years early. However, significant challenges remain, with targets for 2020 and beyond being discussed across the European Union. Meeting these targets demands an even greater level of innovation in technology, energy sources and vehicle uses.”

A briefing and consortium-building event for potential applicants to both £20 million schemes is also being held in Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire on September 3 2015.


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