The UK is putting green technologies at the heart of the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an announcement this week from the government.

Zero-emission vehicle technologies are a cornerstone of efforts to meet the UK’s stated carbon reduction commitments. Accordingly, the government has launched an £80 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge, to help businesses to meet this need.

Since the launch of the Industrial Strategy earlier this decade, the government has set a number of multimillion-pound challenges in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, transport, and digital healthcare.

The aim of this latest initiative is to accelerate the UK’s ability to deliver the next generation of electric vehicles, hybrid aircraft, energy generation, smart grids, industrial drives, consumer products, agricultural vehicles, ships, and rail, says the announcement.

Innovate UK is making available up to £15 million from the fund and from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to support research into these technologies and to support the development of a new supply chain. Sensors are a vital element in the mix.

This part of the funding competition has two strands. The first makes up to £5 million available to support business-led projects that aim to improve the UK supply chain for power electronics, machines, and drives.

Projects could include:

  • Manufacturing process development, such as improving productivity, implementing new tools, automating processes, and/or reconfiguring processes to improve productivity or flexibility.
  • Designing or redesigning products for more efficient production, specification of a new manufacturing process, improvements in modelling and simulation software, or recycling.
  • Circular economy approaches, such as materials recovery, lifecycle and embedded carbon analysis, and waste reduction and process energy efficiency.
  • New testing and validation techniques, including virtualisation and the scale-up or automation of testing and validation processes.

The second makes up to £10 million available to target zero or very low emissions, together with electric vehicle charging.

Projects must build on a previous research project or feasibility study, and could include: battery technologies; electrification of conventional powertrains; hybridisation technologies; systems to increase the efficiency of powertrains or auxiliary systems; hydrogen technologies; and range extenders.

The competition is open now, with a deadline for applications at 11am on 29 July 2020.