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  • Writer's pictureDamon Butcher

APC 20: Developing Automotive Technologies and Growing Capability Towards Net Zero Competition

Updated: Mar 9, 2022



UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £25 million for late stage research and development projects that help accelerate the UK towards a net zero automotive future.

Open date: 12/01/2022

Close date: 02/03/2022

Max Grant Size (SME): £20,000,000

Funding Percentage: 50%

Collaboration: Collaborative

Funding Type: Innovation Grant

Fund Provider(s): APC

Industry: Net Zero, Automotive



The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) provides funding, support and insight for the development of low carbon and net zero automotive technologies. It aims to support the UK’s transition towards net zero product manufacturing and supply chain in the UK automotive sector. In this competition round APC is investing up to £25 million. We are looking for collaborative, pre-production research and development (R&D) projects that:

  • support the UK’s long-term capabilities by securing long term R&D investment

  • achieve through the associated supply chain, the design, build and manufacture of zero carbon tailpipe emission vehicles

Projects must look to fulfil both these criteria to ensure the UK meets the future demand of vehicle-makers. In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11 am UK time on the deadline stated.

Who can apply Your project Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £5 million and £40 million

  • be a minimum of 50% match funded

  • start by 1 September 2022

  • last between 18 and 42 months

  • carry out its project work in the UK

  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

We suggest projects contain a maximum of 6 project partners. If your project’s total eligible costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment. Lead organisation To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size

  • have an active registered business base in the UK

  • be a grant recipient

  • involve at least one SME if the lead is not one

  • include in your consortium a vehicle manufacturer or tier 1 supplier who supplies parts directly to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM)

  • collaborate with others

Academic institutions and research organisations cannot lead projects. Project team To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size

  • academic institution

  • charity

  • not-for-profit

  • public sector organisation

  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Non-UK registered businesses and research organisations are only eligible to apply for funding if:

  • they set up an active UK registered business where the funded project work will be carried out

  • provide evidence of an intention to expand their R&D activity in the UK during and after the project

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) 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 IFS. The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application. 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 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 in your application as to 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. We expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor. Number of applications There are no limits on the number of applications an organisation can be involved in.

Previous applications You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. We will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project

  • an overdue independent accountant’s report

  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

  • have overdue payments to APC

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. We will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage. EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see our general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation. Further Information If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. We are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations. 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 we need to change the terms of this competition, we will tell you as soon as possible.

Funding The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) invests up to £35 million, three times per year, in collaborative research and development (R&D) projects. These are pre-production projects and applicants should apply for the minimum amount of APC funding required to make the project viable. This can be up to 50% of total eligible project costs. In this round APC is investing £25 million. A minimum of 70% of your projects total eligible project costs must be incurred by commercial organisations. The total grant request in your application cannot exceed 50% of the total eligible project costs. This is regardless of the individual partners’ grant claims. Of that 50% if the majority of 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. 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 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

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. If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003. Research participation 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. Of that 30% 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 eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Advanced propulsion centre levy A 3.5% levy is payable to the APC by all partners on grant received.

Your proposal The aim of this competition is to seek proposals for collaborative R&D projects that design, develop and manufacture zero emission on-vehicle technologies for on-road or off-road vehicles. Your project must:

  • support growth and security of the UK’s supply chain, increasing capability, whilst improving productivity, efficiency and competitiveness

  • deliver vehicle technologies and associated manufacturing processes which support the transition to net zero

  • contribute to the UK’s strategic aims in this area, such as the Automotive Council’s Roadmaps

Your project must advance technologies in one or more of the following areas:

  • battery cell components or systems

  • fuel cell and associated balance of plant

  • electric machines and power electronics

  • fossil-free fuel internal combustion

  • hydrogen storage and management systems

  • recycling or recovering materials from any of the above

  • digitalisation leveraged during the development, production or in-service phases

The economic benefit of your project will be assessed on criteria including but not limited to:

  • scale and impact on the UK economy

  • foreign investment anchored in the UK

  • jobs created or safeguarded

  • upskilling of workforce

  • lifetime environmental impact of the vehicle

Your proposal must evidence:

  • a clear route to market exploitation, including IP generated for the UK

  • a credible consortium led approach to the project, agreed in principle and able to proceed to a formal collaborative agreement

  • what would happen should the project not be funded

Projects will be encouraged to disseminate their results to bring benefit to the wider UK automotive industry. APC wants to fund a portfolio of projects, across the technologies listed in the specific themes section, and a variety of markets, technological maturities and research categories.

Specific themes You must consider which technology or technologies best represent your project and rank them in order of their significance and impact to your project. The one ranked first must be the lead technology.

  • electric machines and power electronics

  • energy storage and energy management

  • lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures

  • thermal Propulsion Systems

  • significant reduction in vehicle development timescales

  • digitalisation for development of low carbon vehicle innovation

Your lead technology must be at least 50%.You can also rank up to an additional 2 supporting technologies that can have a maximum of 25% each. Your percentages must add up to 100%.

Research categories We will fund industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund We are not funding projects that are:

  • focussed only on the development of clean fuels

  • not aligned with the UK’s Green Industrial Strategy

  • requesting more than 50% grant for total eligible project costs

  • dependent on export performance

  • dependent on domestic inputs usage


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