£80,000 up for grabs in electric vehicle challenge for North East businesses

Four North East businesses are being given the chance of winning a £20,000 grant to help develop ways to increase the uptake of electric vehicles.

As part of the Go Ultra Low North East campaign, The Electric Vehicle Innovation Accelerator is a new programme aimed at identifying and developing ways to overcome barriers that are preventing the adoption of electric vehicles.

Local businesses, whether well-established or just starting up, are invited to apply to the programme and successful applicants will benefit from intensive business support along with an opportunity to win a £20,000 grant to help bring their idea to market.

The accelerator is being delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork and ENGIE who will host a workshop on Monday 25 March at the Urban Sciences Building at Newcastle Helix to launch the first wave of challenges and introduce the programme.

The event will consider how to reduce the costs and complexity of installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Solutions could come from any sector but the organisers are particularly keen to speak to businesses in the electrical, construction, manufacturing and architecture sectors, as well as related fields.

Simon Green, CEO of the Innovation SuperNetwork – which works to grow the regional economy by driving the adoption of innovative practice, said: “Not only is the low emission agenda a critical part of global decision making around managing climate change, it presents a unique commercial opportunity for businesses across the North East to help drive the uptake of electric vehicles, thanks to our position as a test-bed for rapid filling stations. This programme offers local businesses the opportunity to receive technical and commercial advice first-hand from industry experts, giving them a real chance of bringing their innovative solutions to life. 

“We hope to attract a diverse range of businesses, including those from outside the electric vehicle space, to explore the opportunities presented by these challenges.”

The strongest applications will be shortlisted based on commercial potential and relevance to increasing electric vehicle adoption and there are four grants on offer which will be decided by industry experts from the Innovation SuperNetwork, North East LEP, Zero Carbon Futures and Newcastle University, alongside Northstar Ventures who are providing commercial expertise.  

The North East regional transport team in partnership with seven local authorities, working through the new North East Joint Transport Committee, are leading the drive to promote the take-up and use of electric vehicles as a cleaner and more sustainable way for people to get around. The accelerator is a key element of achieving this aim.

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “We need to encourage more people to make the shift away from diesel and petrol vehicles to cleaner, greener electric versions but first we need to overcome some of the barriers that are preventing this.

“There is a wealth of innovative companies in our region who can help us come up with solutions and we look forward to seeing some of the ideas they can bring while supporting firms with a grant to make them a reality.”

The second wave of the programme will be launched in June 2019 and will focus on making electrification practical for temperature-controlled distribution, such as the electrification of refrigerated vehicles, along with solving how to use telematics to better manage infrastructure specific to electric vehicles. By October 2019, 16 new solutions will be ready for commercialisation or for significant further investment.

Applications for the full programme will open following the launch event. Sign-up for the first workshop on 25 March 2019.

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