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A total of £500,000 is now available for low volume automotive companies who wish to collaborate on low carbon projects.

Cenex and the Technology Strategy Board have announced a joint call for collaborative R&D projects for the Niche Vehicle R&D Programme.

The call for bids (call 6) for grant funded collaborative R&D opens on 1st April and closes 31st May 2011 and applications are invited from UK low volume automotive companies who have two or more collaborative partners and wish to conduct a project (maximum 6 months duration) to develop a new product or process around the theme of carbon reduction and lightweight vehicle technologies.

The Niche Vehicle R&D programme is built around the established Niche Vehicle Network, an informal network of niche vehicle manufacturers, their supply chain and specialist technology suppliers.

Advantage West Midlands currently sponsor the programme, which is designed to foster innovation through collaborative R&D based on low carbon technologies applicable to the Niche Automotive Sector. The Technology Strategy Board are investing £300,000 to increase the total grant available for these projects to £500,000 in this Call 6 of the programme and ensure that funding is available to companies across the UK.

Costs for R&D often prohibit small manufacturers from improving their products and processes. The Niche Vehicle Programme is designed to overcome these obstacles to development and assist manufacturers in investing in R&D, with the aim of ensuring their continuing success in a demanding market place

Dr Viv Stephens, Programme Director, Niche Vehicle Network, at Cenex, said; “We have been supporting niche automotive companies to bring innovative new products to market for over three years. This additional funding enables us to extend this support to companies across the UK and our programme complements the support to the sector currently available through the Technology Strategy Board Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform.”

Tim O’Brien, Innovation Platform Leader for Low Carbon Vehicles at the Technology Strategy Board said: “We are very pleased to support this new call for collaborative research and development in the UK niche vehicle sector, as part of our extensive programme to accelerate the pace of innovation in low carbon vehicles and help bring new technologies towards commercialisation.”

A number of information days will be held around the UK in April, the first of which will take place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on the 14th April from 2-4pm. Further details of more events and how to apply to the fund are to be found on our website