The Department for Transport will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £20m for innovative clean maritime and smart shipping projects. The aim of this competition is to support the design and development of technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the UK’s maritime sector as set out in the Clean Maritime Plan and support the transition to Net Zero by 2050.

In this competition we are seeking solutions for all sizes and categories of maritime vessels. Solutions can be suitable for one target size or multiple sizes of vessels. All ports and harbours are in scope, including infrastructure for both freight and leisure.

We strongly encourage projects from around the UK to support boosting jobs and economic growth, including:

  • ports
  • vessel operators
  • vessel manufacturers
  • their relevant supply chain

There are two strands to this competition:

In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.


The aim of this competition is to support the design and development of technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the UK’s maritime sector as set out in the Clean Maritime Plan and support the transition to Net Zero by 2050.

Your project must:

  • review the technical and economic feasibility of solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • develop a clear plan for a future technology demonstration to be deployed after the feasibility project has been completed

You can include autonomous vessels as identified in the Technology and Innovation in UK Maritime Route Map and wind power, where these deliver energy efficiency savings and enable a vessel to be zero emission capable.

Project consortia for the feasibility study can include the necessary partners in the feasibility study to achieve these aims, such as including a representative end user such as a vessel manufacturer, operator or port or harbour authority.

At the end of the feasibility project, you must:

  • produce a clear, detailed and costed plan for how the solution will be demonstrated in an operational setting in a port or on a vessel(s), including its technical approach, its objectives and business case
  • detail your compliance with regulation or how you will provide assurance if your novel technology does not comply with existing regulation
  • quantify the potential reduction of lifecycle emissions and positive economic impacts in the future
  • detail the barriers to adoption that the future demonstration will overcome
  • detail the resources needed to carry out such a large-scale demonstration, including funding requirements and timescales for delivery, planning permissions, implications of current and future regulation, an assessment of new partners needed and other related information that is required to make a clear business case and decision on deploying a large demonstration project
  • share your reports with DfT and Innovate UK

Clean maritime and smart shipping technologies for all sizes and categories of maritime vessel are in scope. Solutions can be suitable for one target size of vessel or multiple. Leisure and commercial vessels are in scope.

All ports and harbours are in scope, including infrastructure for both freight and leisure.

We strongly encourage projects from around the UK to support boosting jobs and economic growth, including from ports, vessel operators, vessel manufacturers and their supply chain. These can be from established areas of maritime innovation in the UK with proven expertise and capabilities, this includes emerging clusters of activity in zero emission technologies such as but not limited to:

  • the Orkney islands, home to a series of innovative hydrogen projects, including ongoing trials with a vessel, and is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for renewable energy, advanced fuels and island decarbonisation
  • Teesside, home to the Department of Transport’s Hydrogen Transport Centre, complementing the existing Tees Valley Net Zero Innovation Centre and leveraging local expertise in heavy industry, advanced manufacturing and high technology research and development

Specific Themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following themes:

On vessel low and zero emission technologies:

  • vessel propulsion (battery, fuel cell, hybrid, or engines using low carbon alternative fuels such as hydrogen, methanol or ammonia)
  • propulsion systems using internal combustion engine technology capable of using multiple fuels including zero carbon options (such as hydrogen, methanol, ammonia)
  • wind propulsion, including soft-sail, fixed-sail, rotor, kite and turbine technologies, targeting a range of ship types from small vessels to large cargo carriers, both as primary and auxiliary propulsion
  • on-vessel power generation and fuel production to reduce GHG’s e.g. wind turbines, solar panels, synthetic fuel production
  • low carbon energy storage and management
  • physical connections to shore-side power, including fuelling lines
  • enabling technologies such as motors, drives and power electronics

Port and shore-side solutions:

  • shore-side low and zero carbon fuelling including bunkering of such fuels
  • charging infrastructure and management
  • low and zero emission shore-side power solutions, such as enabling docked vessels to turn off their conventional power supply for ancillary systems
  • shore-side renewable energy generation at the port to supply vessels
  • zero emission shore-side power supply as vessels are in harbour for the vessel’s main propulsion system, including grid or renewable energy supply
  • low carbon fuel production (such as hydrogen, methanol, ammonia)
  • zero emission infrastructure, including stationary assets for freight handling and port operations

Investigating green shipping corridors between the UK and other trading partners:

  • assessing the potential of specific technologies in decarbonising trade routes between the UK and trading partners, geographically both near and far
  • exploring barriers to the decarbonisation of trade routes
  • exploring how innovative technologies or the novel application of existing technologies will address the barriers, enabling the creation of green corridors between the UK and its trading partners

Smart shipping technologies:

  • autonomy, digitisation and better journey efficiencies directly and indirectly, delivering quantifiable energy efficiency savings and, therefore, GHG emission reductions
  • other smart shipping technologies, including the control of the emission reduction systems including but not limited to wind propulsion


Innovate UK are not funding:

  • projects that focus only on increasing the efficiency of current conventional fossil fuels and powertrains of maritime vessels
  • projects involving aqua culture
  • projects focused on marine conservation and ecology, such as mapping the sea floor etc
  • capital investment only projects
  • projects investigating the feasibility of financial products, including green finance
  • projects focused on biofuels, except for projects strictly focused on inland waterway vessels and Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), which includes port-side machinery
  • projects focused on nuclear propulsion
  • projects dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • projects dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example if they insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product


Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £1,000,000,
  • end by 31 March 2022
  • last up to 7 months

Projects can start by 1 September 2021.

Innovate UK will not approve project extensions beyond 31 March 2022.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, a research organisation or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If the lead organisation is an RTO or a research organisation it must collaborate with at least 1 business.

Academic institutions cannot work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

The lead and at least one other organisation in a collaboration must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • an overdue independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £10m to fund feasibility projects in this strand.

Innovate UK and Department for Transport reserves the right to move funding between strands.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 50% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Interested in applying for this competition?

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