• 2014 Award
  • How to enter
  • Judges
  • Previous winners
  • Sponsor

SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation 2014

SMMT’s prestigious Award for Automotive Innovation, which rewards the most ground-breaking ideas from all areas of the UK automotive sector, is now closed for entries.

Last year's winner, the Ford 1.0 EcoBoost engine

Last year’s winner, the Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine

Sponsored by GKN and supported by The Times, the Award recognises UK-born concepts and technologies that have the potential to transform the wider automotive industry. Ford Motor Company took the crown last year with its efficient, yet-powerful, 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, which now features in more than 100,000 cars and vans across the country.

A shortlisting process will now take place, after which successful entrants will present their innovations to a panel of industry experts. The winner will be announced at the SMMT Annual Dinner on 25 November, in front of more than 1,000 leading industry figures.

If you have any queries about the Award, please email innovationaward@smmt.co.uk

How to enter

  1. Read the Award criteria and rules below, and make sure your innovation complies.
  2. Download the application form here. This can be accompanied by up to 5MB supporting material.
  3. Submit your entry, either by e-mail to innovationaward@smmt.co.uk, or by post to the following address:

SMMT AAI c/o Ben Foulds

71 Great Peter Street

London SW1P 2BN

The Award is free to enter and open to any individual or organisation wishing to highlight their contribution to the UK automotive industry.

If you have any queries, please call Ben Foulds on 020 7344 9222 or email innovationaward@smmt.co.uk.

The Award criteria

This Award recognises new and existing products, technologies or innovations, developed within the UK, which demonstrate exemplary research and development and have the potential to transform the automotive industry and the motorist community.

Entry is free and open to anyone, be it an individual, team, department or a submission on behalf of an organisation, provided there is a link with the UK sector. However, all submissions must already have the intellectual and copyright permissions agreed before being submitted as required by the Rules.

We’re inviting anyone who has created a product, technology or innovation which has or potentially could change the face of the UK motor industry.

Award rules

1. These rules (‘Rules’) govern the ‘SMMT Innovation Award’ (the ‘Award’).

2. The Award is administered through the website address www.smmt.co.uk/aai (‘Website’) and is administered by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (‘SMMT’).

3. Your attention is drawn to the Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (separate documents.)

4. Entry for the Award is by completing and submitting the entry form on the Website. Entrants are advised to read the Entry Guidelines and FAQs accompanying the entry form on the Website. By submitting your entry, you agree to be bound by these rules, the Website Terms of Use, the Privacy Policy and the Entry Guidelines.

5. The closing date for entries is 00:01 on 12 September 2014. Entries received after this date will not be entered into the judging process.

6. The Award is open to SMMT members and non-members, engaged in any aspect of the automotive industry in the United Kingdom. Entries should be for innovations created no earlier than 1 January 2012.

7. All necessary permissions relating to intellectual property ownership (including copyright) required from third parties should be obtained by the entrant prior to an entry being submitted for the Award and evidence of such permissions shall be provided to SMMT where relevant. SMMT reserves the right to exclude an entry from the Award should it be made aware of any such permissions not having been obtained.

8. Neither the sponsors of the Award nor the employer of any of the judges will be permitted to submit an entry for the Award.

9. Entries for the Award should be no more than 2,000 words. This should explain what the innovation is and how it will benefit the automotive industry in the United Kingdom.

10. Receipt of entries will be acknowledged by return e-mail. A panel of judges will assess each entry. A shortlist of at least four entries will be created, which will be notified to the shortlisted entrants by 22 September 2013.

11. There will be one overall winner of the Award (‘Winner’). The Winner will be announced at the 98th SMMT Annual Dinner on 25 November 2014 (‘Annual Dinner’), to which the Winner will be invited.

12. Any decision of SMMT as to eligibility to take part in the Award or the result of the Award will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

13. The Winner and any runners-up may be required to take part in non-paid publicity or advertising relating to the Award or the Annual Dinner, which may include having photographs and video interviews taken for promotional and press purposes and for presentation on the Website.

14. By entering the Award, the Winner and any runners-up consent to details of their entries being presented on the Website by way of video or photographic display.

15. SMMT reserves the right to delay, postpone or cancel the Award in the event of circumstances outside its reasonable control, which it considers make it necessary for it to do so.

16. SMMT reserves the right to clarify the Rules, in the event of any possible ambiguity or misinterpretation, and in such circumstances, notice will be made on the Website. The Rules are subject to English law. Any disputes must be referred to the English courts.

© SMMT Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

The judges

A panel of leading industry experts will judge the Award for Automotive Innovation 2014. The panel includes:

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

Mike Hawes_SMMT Chief Executive_bwMike Hawes became SMMT Chief Executive on 2 September 2013. He has more than 20 years’ experience in policy and public affairs, the majority of which have been spent in the motor industry. He joined SMMT from Bentley Motors where he held a number of PR, corporate and public affairs roles. Prior to that, he worked for both Toyota and, more recently, Bentley’s parent company, Volkswagen AG, where he developed the European and global knowledge needed for this challenging role.


Dave Salt, Chief Engineer, GKN Driveline

Dave has more than 40 years of experience within automotive engineering and specialises in vehicle design, development and application. He is Chief Engineer and Engineering Site Manager at UK-based global engineering company GKN Driveline –  the world’s leading manufacturer of automotive driveline components. The business employs 24,000 people at 45 manufacturing facilities and 3 product development centres in 22 countries, working in partnership with vehicle manufacturers. This is the fifth year that Dave has participated in the judging of the Award.

Jim Higginbotham, Managing Director – Large Corporate and Specialist Asset Finance, Lombard

AAI_J Higginbotham_b&w2Jim Higginbotham is Managing Director of Lombard’s Large Corporate and Specialist Asset Finance (LCSAF) division. In this role, Jim is responsible for a diverse range of specialist businesses from vehicle stocking and short-term car hire through to technology services, renewable energy, and aviation and marine. The team also focus on meeting the asset finance needs of the FTSE 250 in partnership with Lombard’s parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. As a business leader with more than 20 years’ experience within the financial services industry and specific functional expertise in risk, Jim brings key knowledge to a sector that can have complex funding requirements. He also has a clear understanding of the importance of balancing commercial ambition with a risk based approach to achieving a strong return on investment.

Robert Lea, Industrial Editor, The Times

Robert has been a business journalist for more than 20 years and at The Times covers the automotive, transportation, engineering and manufacturing industries as well as industrial relations and business policy.




Previous winners

2013: Ford 1.0 EcoBoost engine

Hailed as the future of engine technology and designed, developed and engineered in Essex, Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost engine – found in hundreds of thousands of cars across the UK – was crowned winner of the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation in 2013.

The efficient 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine, which uses a power-boosting turbocharger to deliver performance to beat that of a more conventional 1.6-litre unit, started life at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex.

Commenting on the win, Graham Hoare, Ford’s Director of Global Vehicle Evaluation and Verification, said, “On behalf of the 1,000-plus highly-skilled Ford powertrain engineers involved in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost programme, we’re all delighted with this prestigious recognition.

“In 2007, the engineering teams at Dunton and Dagenham took on the challenge to produce a cutting-edge three-cylinder petrol engine – exciting, durable and efficient enough for both cars and commercial vehicles. Six years on, and with over 300,000 global sales, two back-to-back International Engine of the Year titles, and now this major innovation award, we couldn’t be more proud.”

2012: Optare Versa EV

Optare_image 1

Bus manufacturer Optare scooped the 2012 award with its all-electric Versa EV.

Developed from the 27-seater Optare Solo EV that was launched in 2010, the Versa EV is the UK’s first fully operational, full-sized, battery-powered electric bus. Designed and engineered at Optare’s exclusive UK facility in North Yorkshire, the Versa EV boasts impressive environmental credentials with zero tailpipe emissions and reduced noise and is capable of carrying around 50 passengers.

Glenn Saint, Deputy CEO of Optare plc, said, “Winning the SMMT award is a major boost to our efforts to make electric buses an integral part of the UK transport infrastructure. It significantly raises awareness amongst key audiences leading to an increase in enquiries, both from domestic and international markets, and has confirmed our status as the UK’s leader in the field of low carbon buses.”

2011: Jaguar Land Rover Range_e


Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) won the 2011 award for its prototype Range_e – the world’s first luxury plug-in hybrid electric 4×4 with integrated V6 diesel engine. With an electric motor replacing the torque converter in the eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Range_e emits just 89g/km CO2 on the combined cycle.

Picking up the Award, Peter Richings, Chief Engineer, Hybrids, JLR, said, “Innovation and technology are the lifeblood of our business and we are delighted that our work has earned this recognition from our industry peers. Range_e demonstrates the advances we are making in cleaner and more fuel-efficient performance without compromising the performance and all-wheel-drive capabilities that are at the heart of our brand and we look forward to bringing its benefits to the market in the near future.

“The award for the Range_e project is testament to the range of skills, excellence and enthusiasm of not just our own engineers and designers, but the people in the research and academic organisations in the UK that have supported them.”

2010: Gordon Murray Design iStream

Yamaha Motiv

Gordon Murray Design’s revolutionary iStream manufacturing process was the first ever winner of SMMT’s Award for Automotive Innovation in 2010. Billed as “potentially the biggest revolution in high volume manufacture since the Model T”, iStream is based around a simplified assembly operation that allows the car manufacturing plant to be a mere 20% of the size of a regular facility. Since receiving the award, iStream has been incorporated into the 2013 Yamaha Motiv concept car (above).

Receiving the award in 2010, Gordon Murray said, “Awards like the Award for Automotive Innovation are really important for small start-up companies like ours. There are established innovators in the UK that get a lot of press coverage, but it’s always helpful to get recognition, especially when you are trying to do something which is not conventional, in order to gain people’s attention.”


To register for updates about the 2014 Award for Automotive Innovation, e-mail updateinnovationaward@smmt.co.uk.