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Canada-UK Net Zero Value Chains - Transportation

Automotive & Transport
Project Size:
Up to £300,000

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to invest a total of up to £4million in innovation projects. These will enable transition to net zero for the automotive, rail, or maritime transportation sectors.

The aim of this competition is to foster and support collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships. Your proposal must demonstrate high potential for commercialisation, address a technological challenge and target large global markets.

The total grant for all UK partners can be up to £300,000 for each application. NRC IRAP will provide a contribution of up to CA$500,000 to each eligible Canadian SME participating in the project.

Canadian funding applicants are required to register and submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) before being eligible to apply for this competition.

The registration deadline for Canadian SMEs is 9 May 2022.

Canadian funding applicants who do not complete an EoI and have not been invited to proceed will not be eligible for funding through this competition.

Your project must:

  • have a grant funding request of no more than £300,000 allocated to UK organisations
  • have a grant funding request of no more than CA$500,000 allocated to each eligible Canadian SME
  • start by 1 January 2023
  • end by 31 December 2024
  • last between 12 and 24 months

Projects should have a balanced contribution of the total eligible project costs among the partners from the participating partner countries.

No one country or project partner can represent more than 70% of the total project cost.

The majority of the project work must be undertaken in the UK and Canada.

Your proposal must demonstrate a clear intention to commercially exploit the results of the project domestically or globally.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

To lead a project your organisation must be either:

  • a UK registered business of any size


  • a Canadian registered small or medium enterprise (SME)

Your collaboration must include at least one grant claiming UK registered sme and one eligible Canadian registered SME.

Academic institutions and research and technology organisations (RTOs) cannot lead.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following:

  • UK registered business of any size
  • UK registered academic institution
  • UK registered research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Canadian SME
  • Canadian research organisation

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 UK registered organisations must enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

Applicants from UK academic institutions or RTOs cannot claim more than 30% of the UK’s total grant requested.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs must be included in the total project costs.

Canadian project participants who are not eligible for funding (including researchers from the National Research Council of Canada) are welcome to collaborate as additional participants on a self‑funded basis or as subcontractors.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition, but are limited to no more than 20% of your organisation’s total eligible costs.

The aim of this competition is to foster and support collaborative research and development (CR&D) through Canadian and UK partnerships.

Your joint Canadian and UK project must focus on innovations that enable transition to net zero transportation, for the automotive, rail, or maritime sectors. Your project can address on-vehicle, including locomotives, or on-vessel technologies, processes, or technology-based services.

This competition covers 4 themes in net zero on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies:

1. Low and zero emission propulsion.

2. Advanced sustainable materials and manufacturing.

3. Highly disruptive technologies.

4. Assistive technologies and control systems.

Technology transfer projects from other transport or energy sectors, or projects that span across multiple sectors are welcome.

A project in the automotive sector can cover both niche and mainstream on-road vehicles and off-road vehicles, including mopeds, motorcycles, passenger and goods vehicles and trailers, agricultural, construction vehicles, and special use vehicles.

A project in the rail sector can target all locomotive classes including those for freight and passenger carrying services and carriages.

A project in the maritime sector can include a range of ship types from small vessels to large cargo carriers.

Your project must:

  • develop on-vehicle or on-vessel technologies that deliver net zero solutions, speeding up their introduction to the market
  • justify how the technology improves overall vehicle or vessel efficiency and lifecycle CO2 emissions
  • validate the technology in a relevant environment, for example in a testbed or through a development mule or adapted current production vehicle or vessel for higher maturity technologies
  • deliver the technology at a lower cost than today without compromising safety or capability
  • consider approach to manufacturing including at the target scale and using advanced processes
  • show a clear route to market including appropriate business models to exploit the technology commercially and identify an appropriate end customer(s)
  • show a reduction of the environmental impact of the technology including resource efficiency and end of life options such as recycling, remanufacturing or reuse

We want to fund a portfolio of projects, across the themes and a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities, research categories and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations.

Your application must focus on at least one of the following themes. If your project spans more than one theme, you must select the one that reflects the majority of work and clearly state the other themes within your application.

If your application does not directly fit with the themes described below, you can contact Innovate UK or NRC IRAP International Office who will be able to advise on eligibility.

Your project can focus on one or more of the examples listed for each theme.

1. Low and zero emission propulsion:

  • power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) systems for electrified powertrains for vehicles, locomotives or vessels, including retrofitting of fossil fuel internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs or FCEVs
  • hydrogen and fuel cell (FC) technologies
  • low emission carbon neutral propulsion, including range extenders (ICE or FC) and hydrogen ICE
  • energy storage technologies (including batteries) and energy management software and controls
  • energy efficient electrification for traction and non-traction rail vehicles, and bi-mode locomotives (hydrogen and battery powered)
  • vessel propulsion that uses batteries, fuel cells, hybrids, or engines with low carbon alternative fuels such as hydrogen, methanol or ammonia
  • on-vessel power generation and fuel production to reduce GHGs, e.g. wind turbines, solar panels and synthetic fuel production

2. Advanced sustainable materials and manufacturing:

  • sustainable lightweight materials, including processes, composites and joining, for vehicle and vessel panels and structures
  • additive manufacturing processes for complex structural vehicle and vessel components
  • advanced methods for corrosion resistance and durability improvement in multi materials including composites, metal, and ceramic blends, and novel materials
  • materials and manufacturing processes for batteries, fuel cells and PEMD
  • extraction or recovery, recycling and remanufacturing reuse processes for critical valuable materials used in devices such as fuel cells, batteries and electric powertrains

3. Highly disruptive technologies:

  • technologies or processes that significantly increase the efficiency of the powertrain or reduce the energy demand of auxiliary systems
  • advanced design methods and tools for aerodynamic vehicle (or hydrodynamic vessel) designs, including simulation and modelling, and design for manufacture
  • energy transmission technologies that efficiently deliver power to vehicles or vessels such as battery recharging and connectivity
  • novel electrochemical catalysts or membranes for the conversion of CO2 emissions into low or net zero carbon fuels including syngas and ethanol
  • on-board hydrogen technologies to power the drive or auxiliaries in passenger or freight rail systems
  • technologies that optimize rail vehicle ventilation systems and climate control for healthier travel

4. Assistive technologies and control systems:

  • autonomous mobility technologies from platooning, to ADAS and last mile delivery solutions that provide direct and indirect efficiency savings
  • technologies that increase safety and operational efficiency via in-service remote health monitoring
  • smart shipping technologies delivering quantifiable energy efficiency savings and GHG emission reductions
  • technologies to support automated train and track inspections such as machine vision and AI
  • optimisation of fleet energy efficiency
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