• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £75m in collaborative R&D projects in the field of low carbon vehicles.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £75m

  • Opens: 02 Dec 2013, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 29 Jan 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 05 Feb 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Advanced Propulsion Centre - Building UK manufacturing strength in low carbon vehicles

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available; see the PDF of the winning project proposals.


The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), in partnership with the Automotive Council and the Technology Strategy Board, is to invest up to £75m in collaborative R&D projects in the field of low carbon vehicles. 
The competition will support a small number of projects that will form the initial portfolio for the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). 
The APC is the centrepiece of the new joint industry and government strategy for the automotive sector and is being launched to help develop, commercialise and enable the manufacture of advanced propulsion technologies in the UK. The funding of these projects is a precursor to a steady state of funding throughout the lifetime of the APC. 
The projects are expected to start in April 2014. They will strengthen UK capability and develop and grow the UK's propulsion systems supply chain. Projects must be collaborative and business-led. We expect total eligible project costs to be between £10m and £40m. The funding will be split between industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs), and experimental development, with a business partner attracting 25% funding (35% for a medium-sized company and 45% for small enterprises). Projects are expected to last between 18 and 42 months.
This competition opens on 2 December 2013. The deadline for registration is at noon on 29 January 2014 and the deadline for applications is at noon on 5 February 2014
A briefing event via webinar will be held on 4 December 2013

Background and challenge

The UK Advanced Propulsion Centre is being established to position the UK as the global centre for the development and production of low carbon propulsion systems. 
As the global automotive industry rises to the challenge of producing lower-carbon transportation, the UK automotive industry has a significant opportunity to capitalise on its existing strengths and capabilities in academic and industrial research. 
The APC is a key element of the joint government and industry strategy, Driving success: UK automotive strategy for growth and sustainability, announced in July 2013. The Government and industry will invest around £1bn in the new centre over 10 years, to develop, commercialise and enable the manufacture of advanced propulsion technologies in the UK. The APC will open for business in 2014 and will encompass, co-ordinate and resource a range of collaborative industrialisation activities that have taken strategic direction from the Automotive Council, its work streams and members. As background to the challenge, the Automotive Council has published a number of roadmaps reflecting the industry consensus
A supply chain has yet to establish itself for the next generation of propulsion systems, not only in the UK but also internationally. The UK has the opportunity to build on its strengths in powertrain engineering and seize global competitive advantage, as incumbent technologies and traditional supply chains are displaced and new ones created. 
This competition was developed with input from the Automotive Council; the APC implementation team and its stakeholders; BIS; and the Technology Strategy Board. 


BIS has allocated up to £75m as initial funding for a limited number of preproduction projects. These projects are expected to start in April 2014 and will need to demonstrate how they strengthen UK capability and develop the UK's supply chain in the field of low carbon vehicles. 
The projects must demonstrate technologies that deliver significant reductions in vehicle CO2 emissions compared to current best-in-class technologies. 
This competition is to develop technologies that are primarily on-vehicle. Technologies that primarily reside off the vehicle, such as charging infrastructure, are out of scope. The technologies for these projects need to be developed for either on-road or off-road vehicles. 
Consortia must have a clear, demonstrable route to eventual production, involving at least one vehicle manufacturer, appropriate representation of the supply chain, and at least one SME. Projects are encouraged to consider having more than one end-user as this is likely to make the business case stronger.
A value-for-money economic assessment will be undertaken by BIS, and details of this will be published in the Guidance for Applicants. Consortia should demonstrate the potential to build on the UK's existing capabilities, targeting global competitive advantage and economic benefit for the UK. 
The projects need to demonstrate the development of powertrain technologies based around one or more of the following technology areas: 
  • internal combustion engines 
  • lightweight powertrain structures 
  • electric machines and power electronics 
  • energy storage and energy management 
  • other propulsion systems. 
Each project needs to consider how it will develop and accelerate the technology readiness levels (TRL) and, importantly, the manufacturing readiness levels (MRL). To be considered in scope for this competition, the consortia need to demonstrate that they have already achieved at least TRL 5 and the majority of MRL 4 within the proposal. For further information, see the report on automotive technology and manufacturer readiness levels created by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership in association with the Automotive Council (www. automotivecouncil.co.uk/technologygroup/ reports/) 
As part of the assessment process and throughout the project life, applicants will need to demonstrate: 
  • how the project will develop capability to bring products to market more quickly 
  • an ability to build and grow significant supply chain capability within the UK 
  • achievement of at least MRL 6 and TRL 8 along with a commercially viable roadmap towards production and volume manufacture 
  • a defined exit strategy allowing for commercialisation and market entry at a globally competitive price level 
  • how intellectual property will be handled and secured within the UK, for exploitation by and to the overall benefit of the UK 
  • how the project will be managed, including senior commitment from the consortium to deliver the project towards commercial success 
  • how it is embedding knowledge in people and growing expertise in the UK 
  • that the performance, durability, integrity and safety of any proposed technology has been considered, including the application of appropriate standards and, where applicable, ISO 26262. 
We are strongly encouraging projects that follow on from ones that have already received funding from the Technology Strategy Board. 

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks.

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £75m to fund collaborative R&D projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope. 
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. 
The project needs to be clearly defined as being predominately industrial research with the remaining work packages in experimental development, or predominately experimental development with some work packages in industrial research. No single business partner can receive more than €10m of grant if predominantly in the industrial research category and no more than €7 .5m of grant if predominately in the experimental development category. Any projects that have industrial research and/or experimental development and may be close to these limits should contact us for a review of their eligibility. 
Projects must be business-led and collaborative. They are expected to last between 18 and 42 months. Each project must include a vehicle manufacturer and an SME. We expect most of the funding to be split between industrial research, with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs), and experimental development, with a business partner attracting 25% funding (35% for medium-sized enterprises and 45% for small enterprises). We expect projects to range in size from £10m to £40m. 
Funding will be available to support capital costs for new pilot production processes to support the research into a proposed manufacturing solution. Test-rig modifications and mule vehicles to develop and prove the performance of the new system will also be eligible. New test equipment will not be eligible unless it can be proven that this will provide new unique testing capability for the organisation and that the capability does not exist in the UK. 
A strong case will need to be made to show this is the most cost-effective way to deliver the technology in line with an appropriate business case and an exploitable route to market.
In all cases, the state aid requirements must be reviewed in detail and met. Notably, the experimental production and testing of products, processes and services will be eligible, provided that these cannot be used or transformed to be used in industrial applications or commercially. Experimental development must not include routine or periodic changes made to products, production lines, manufacturing processes, existing services and other operations in progress, even if such changes may represent improvements. 
We are encouraging companies working outside the automotive sector that can bring technical knowledge and expertise to a consortium to participate in this competition. 
These projects are seen as a precursor to a steady state of funding throughout the lifetime of the APC. Failure to secure funding in this initial competition would not preclude a consortium or organisation reapplying in the future. 
Each partner in a collaborative R&D project can receive funding towards their project costs – the funding is a percentage of the total eligible project costs and varies, depending on the type of organisation and the type of research. See general guidance on how projects are funded 

Application process

This competition opens for applicants on 2 December 2013. It involves a written application, value-for-money assessment and a presentation. 
A written application is assessed by the Technology Strategy Board, and a valuefor- money economic assessment is made by BIS. 
Selected applicants will then be invited to present their project proposal to a panel of assessors, the Technology Strategy Board and other stakeholders. 
The Technology Strategy Board application will consist of a 10-question application form, including annexes and finance forms. The BIS assessment will consist of a value-for-money economic assessment form and subsequent review with applicants. 
All applicants must first register via our website by noon on 29 January 2014. The deadline for all application forms, including annexes, finance forms and the value-for-money form is at noon on 5 February 2014
Projects are expected to demonstrate that they will be able to start in April 2014. 
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. 
A webinar briefing for potential applicants will be held on 4 December 2013 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. 
Applicants are strongly recommended to attend. 
Note: All deadlines are at noon. 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 2 December 2013
  • Briefing event - Webinar: 4 December 2013
  • Registration deadline: 29 January 2014 noon
  • Application deadline: 5 February 2014 noon
  • Presentation stage: Week commencing 24 March 2014

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications. 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.