This challenge is investing in electrification technologies, including power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD). The investment will support the UK’s push towards a net zero carbon economy and contribute to the development of clean technology supply chains.
Budget: £80 million
Duration: 2019 to 2024
Partners involved: Innovate UK
The ‘Driving the electric revolution’ challenge aims to be the catalyst to building £5 billion more power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) products in the UK by 2025, encouraging industry across all sectors to invest and collaborate with academia to establish a PEMD supply chain.
Our investments are helping business and researchers to:
fill gaps in electrification supply chains and funding centres
develop the next generation of products using PEMD
Other projects focus on the new approaches and tools needed to make these components in volume, and in the right timescales, to help manufacturers grow.
Driving the electric revolution supports PEMD in multiple industries, including (but not limited to):
energy (generation and distribution)
industrial (from production equipment to robots and lighting)
off highway (construction, agriculture equipment)
Areas of investment
£33 million investment for four national centres of excellence in PEMD, based at existing areas of expertise in:
Newport, south-west England and Wales
Sunderland, north-east England
These centres support research and development allowing businesses and researchers to develop and scale new PEMD technologies and manufacturing processes.
Collaborative innovation funding
Over £33 million is being invested in collaborative, industry-led innovation projects that will help businesses grow strategically important UK PEMD supply chains and develop manufacturing capability. These projects will enable UK to deliver the next generation of PEMD technologies across nine vital sectors undergoing accelerated electrification.
Talent and skills development
£6 million to support skills and training provision through:
dedicated skills competitions
an undergraduate award programme
the creation of a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) truck and a STEM box for schools
setting up the Electrification Revolution skills hub
The challenge has activities for everyone from school leavers and undergraduates, to experienced engineers and technicians looking to retrain to address the acute shortage of skills in PEMD.
To reach net zero carbon emissions, industries of all kinds must move to clean technologies and electrification. This is happening across every sector of society, from energy generation for our homes to how we move around. Electrification will generate a massive need for next-generation PEMD technologies, whether for:
a host of other applications and appliances
PEMD are essential to create greener technologies, and PEMD supply chains are vital for keeping and attracting investment across sectors as they move towards a greener, electric future.
Reaching net zero by 2050 will not be possible without the supply of PEMD on a large scale. The ‘Driving the electric revolution’ challenge programme is helping the UK grasp the huge economic opportunities from this global transition.
Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centres
The Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centres (DER-IC) play a vital role in bringing together a UK-wide network of over 30 academic, research and technology organisations.
The network gives businesses the opportunity to:
develop manufacturing process technologies
industrialise the processes needed for PEMD scale-up
reduce risk by sharing expertise, technical advice and facilities
The Electric Revolution Skills Hub
Delivered by Coventry University on behalf of the ‘Driving the electric revolution’ challenge.
The hub connects PEMD training and education providers with employers and learners to help grow the workforce needed to build future net zero technologies.
Driving the electric revolution in the agri-food sector report
The agriculture and food (agri-food) sector is an extensive and diverse sector.
This report, carried out on behalf of the challenge by the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (Innovate UK KTN), identifies opportunities and challenges to the adoption of PEMD in the agri-food sector.
The supply security of rare-earth permanent sintered magnets, and the rare-earth raw materials that these contain, is a strategic area for the UK.
Innovate UK KTN’s Chemistry & Industrial Biotechnology team, in conjunction with the challenge, reviewed the rare-earth materials and magnet supply chain opportunity for the UK.
Funded and announced projects
With funding from the challenge, Performance Projects developed an innovative e-hub drive to automate and electrify the agritech industry.
The Winder project
Funding from the challenge helped Magnomatics develop a Pseudo Direct Drive (PDD®) that improves the efficiency and reliability of offshore wind technology.
The PDD has a longer lifespan and generates energy at a lower cost than conventional methods.
The technology can also be applied to improve efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in the rail, marine propulsion and industrial drives sectors.
As well as the research and development findings of the project, Magnomatics has commercialised the product and secured an order from an engineering partner worth £1.6 million.
Engineering consultancy Electronics Mind used challenge funding to create and share 20 technical training webinars.
The aim was to boost the skills of existing engineers and graduates, to attract new talent into the power electronics sector and to enable the UK to achieve net zero.
The 60-minute webinars were released over a four-month period in 2020, enabling people to upskill while working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 3,000 people attended the live webinars.