Cohort 2 – Applications Now Open

Remaining time to apply to Cohort 2

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Cohort 2

Applications for Cohort 2 of the Clean Futures Accelerator are now open!

Key dates for Innovators wishing to apply are outlined below:

    30th April 2024

    Applications Open

    15th May 2024

    CPC – Application Support Webinar (View Recording)

    21st May 2024

    BCIMO – Application Support Workshop (View PDF)

    29th May 2024

    Coventry University – Open Day

    9th June 2024

    Applications Close

    w/c 22nd July 2024

    Winners Announced

    19th August 2024

    Programme Starts / Welcome Day 

    27th August 2024

    Insight Day

    18th February 2025

    Coventry University – Demonstration Day 

    19th February 2025

    BCIMO – Demonstration Day 

    The technological innovations to be developed by Cohort 2 will focus on one or more of the following industry challenges.

    Challenge 1 - Clean and Efficient Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly

    The focus areas of this challenge are as follows:

    • Minimising scope 3 emissions in the production of sustainable vehicles
    • Improving the integration of sustainable vehicles into the circular economy
    • Addressing a major barrier in the adoption of clean transport technologies: the cost of acquisition and operation.

    By integrating sustainability with affordability, we aim to bolster the public’s inclination towards choosing eco-friendly transportation options. Currently, the West Midlands is home to over 3 million cars, with projections indicating an increase to 4 million by 2030. The region witnessed a 50% growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption from 2021 to 2022.

    Under this challenge, we are inviting applicants to propose innovations in the manufacturing processes of electric vehicles (EVs), ranging from micro-mobility solutions and traditional road vehicles to public transport and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). We are also encouraging applications to improve repurposing, recycling and second life of EV components, such as batteries. In addition, this challenge will facilitate the transition of traditional manufacturing and supply chains in the West Midlands towards the electric vehicle sector. Particularly, companies engaged in the production of components for conventional transportation systems are well-positioned to tackle this challenge by adapting their processes, or by opting for alternative materials or components.

    Example innovation areas may include:

    • Innovations aiming to reduce waste in manufacturing and assembly processes, including by optimising energy efficiency or reducing waste.
    • Innovations aiming to increase the sustainability of producing materials used for vehicles, such as steel, iron and mineral products and/or chemicals.
    • Innovations aiming to optimise or increase the sustainability of industrial heating; including through retrofit.
    • The production of components for traditional vehicles which could be adapted to EVs.
    • Use of alternative materials which are more sustainable or cost-effective.
    • Lightweighting solutions or components for EVs.
    • Adaption of traditional vehicle components for EVs, or manufacturing these components in a way which will become more cost effective than existing solutions at scale.
    • Designing or manufacturing EV components more efficiently (in terms of cost and/or emissions).
    • Solutions to improve in-life serviceability of battery packs, even in cases where a single cell fails.
    • Solutions to increase the circular economy in transport, especially reusing or recycling EV batteries.

        Challenge 2 - Design or Production of Cost-Effective Solutions for Clean Transportation Infrastructure

        Under challenge 2, our objective is to contribute to the development of mass rail-based transit systems that are accessible to everyone, fostering a unified public transport network that is clean, reliable and sustainable. Our aspiration is to reduce air pollution and emissions, enhance connectivity, and position the West Midlands as a leader in mass transit systems, showcasing our innovations on a national scale.

        We are seeking rail solutions that either introduce a brand-new infrastructure approach or centre on retrofitting existing infrastructures to make them greener. For new approaches, a key success factor should lie in enhancing affordability, with (for example) an aim to keep construction costs for Very Light Rail below £10 million per kilometre of track. In the case of refurbishment and maintenance of existing infrastructure, sustainability is paramount, and projects should demonstrate a clear pathway towards net zero while presenting a significant commercial opportunity.

        Example innovation areas may include:

        • Solutions designed to refurbish or retrofit existing rail infrastructure and increase its sustainability.
        • Solutions designed to increase the sustainability of maintenance of existing rail infrastructure.
        • Reducing destruction and disruption of utilities.
        • Use of sustainable construction materials or methods.
        • Reduction of building and operating infrastructure system requirements, such as onboard signalling, control systems, turnouts, infrastructure required to produce cycling safety schemes, communication systems and/or drainage systems.

          Challenge 3 - Future Fuels: Production, Transportation or Storage of Alternative Fuels such as Hydrogen or Biofuels

          As the transition to electrification progresses, alternative sustainable fuels remain a pertinent choice for specific uses. For instance, in scenarios such as rural transportation and agri-tech, where long distances and sparse charging infrastructure pose challenges, alternative fuels like hydrogen or biofuels become particularly relevant. Furthermore, biofuels offer the added advantage of reducing the impact of waste from crops that would otherwise decompose into methane. We are in search of applicants that are actively involved in the production, transportation, or storage of biofuels or hydrogen within the West Midlands. These efforts should aim to make alternative fuels readily available to end-users, thereby supporting the region’s sustainable energy ecosystem.

          Example innovations may include:

          • Local production and transportation to increase the affordability of hydrogen fuels in the West Midlands, as well as reduce waste fuels.
          • Solutions with a focus on electrification challenges, such as fitting them onto larger vehicles and machines (e.g. combine harvesters, HGVs, tractors, refuse trucks and other maintenance vehicles).
          • Solutions to retrofit long-life vehicles (such as HGVs and heavy rail rolling stock) to make them compatible with alternative fuels.
          • Applying alternative fuels for EV charging infrastructure, especially in places where charging infrastructure may be less accessible.
          • Increasing the accessibility of the supply of alternative fuels for consumers and operators, for both on-highway and off-highway vehicles.
          • Efficient storage and transportation of alternative fuels, with reduced waste, space utilisation and lower emissions.
          • Adapting alternative fuels from aircraft and maritime to automotive and rail applications.

          Open Challenge

          The Open Challenge is designed to foster a wide array of sustainable solutions that support our collective vision for a greener future. Beyond the accelerator’s main three challenges, the Clean Futures programme welcomes applications which contribute to sustainable transport and clean manufacturing in general. We encourage applications from innovators dedicated to developing sustainable innovations that will yield significant advantages for the West Midlands, and those currently located or operating within the region will be prioritised. Additionally, proposed solutions and innovations should align closely with the goals of the West Midlands 2041 plan.

          Applicants must meet the following criteria:

          • Be a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise applying alone OR as part of a consortium of partners.
          • Be currently operating in existing supply chains or looking to move into new sectors.
          • Have a UK company address.
          • Have an innovative technology or solution at TRL 5 or above. 
          • Demonstrate alignment to one of the challenges being addressed by this programme.
          • Have a willingness to travel to face-to-face meetings and events in the West Midlands. 
          • Have a willingness to contribute an additional £50k as in-kind match funding (e.g. labour, materials).
          • Have an operational presence in the West Midlands, ideally with a registered office there (although this need not be the HQ) OR have technology that can a) be deployed in the region and b) will have regional impact, in the way of future job or investment opportunities.

          Accelerator Events

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