SMMT Events

Future Mobility Challenge – How to apply

Participation in the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge is free of charge.

However, there is just one application principle: you must be a start-up or a small-or-medium enterprise (SME). This means your business must employ no more than 250 people and have an annual turnover not exceeding £50 million. If you meet this criterion, please read on to find out about the application process.


  • A successful partnership is based on a bespoke arrangement that all partners are comfortable with. Your needs may vary depending on the maturity of your ideas, solutions and business.

    Here’s how you can benefit from partnering with the five automotive brands.

    Route to market

    Many start-ups are looking for a first customer, or in the case of SMEs maybe a first major customer. The brands involved in this initiative are major global businesses with a large pool of existing and prospective customers across multiple business segments. Your solutions may have more than one application in a given segment, or could be extended to become viable propositions in adjacent businesses. The depth of experience and vast scale and reach of these brands mean they can also help develop and nurture your business to quickly scale and tap into their global markets.

    Incubation, acceleration, piloting

    Not every business is ready go to market just yet. Your ideas may need further incubation to become viable propositions. Or, your solutions may need to be piloted or tested in live customer environments to accelerate their commercial readiness.

    This initiative can offer successful start-ups and SMEs access to first-class mentorship, profound market and consumer insights from leading experts, data, R&D capabilities, and technical and marketing resources via UK-based incubators, innovation labs and accelerators that have extensive global reach. You will also benefit from opportunities to pilot a product or service through live sandboxes and testbeds.


    You may be looking for funding to catapult your idea to the next stage, be it proof-of-concept, prototyping or delivering a minimum viable product. Or you may be ready to commercialise your solutions, or even grow your fledgling business. Subject to the right terms and conditions, the automotive companies are ready to invest stage-agnostic, though the majority of investments are expected to fall within Series A or B.

    Exit path/acquisition

    There may be a possibility that your business has reached considerable maturity such that you are looking for someone else to take it to the next stage. Or you may just want to simply cash in and pursue other interests. Subject to the right terms and conditions, the automotive companies are open to acquiring a majority stake or the business outright.

  • A step by step guide to the application process

    Click here for the full step by step guide

    • Step 1 – Reviewing the challenges
    • Step 2 – Applying online
    • Step 3 – Application screening and shortlisting
    • Step 4 – Invitation to pitch
    • Step 5 – Preparing to pitch
    • Step 6 – Pitching
    • Step 7 – Negotiating


    Is my business right for this event?

    This initiative is open to start-ups and SMEs from any sector that can help the five automotive brands redefine the future of mobility through ideas and solutions that address the seven defined mobility challenges. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey or how mature your business is. You may have only an idea or be seeking to deliver a proof-of-concept. Or you may have a prototype, or a minimum viable product. You may even have an early stage product or service already in the market. If you feel you have something to offer and could benefit from partnering with the five brands, then we want to hear from you.

    Why can only start-ups and SMEs can apply?

    The automotive brands involved in this initiative would like to discover more hidden gems from among the start-up and SME community. If you are a large business, chances are you are relatively more discoverable than start-ups and SMEs, and your offerings are already known to the automotive industry.

    Can I apply even if my business is not based in the UK? 

    This initiative is open internationally, so it doesn’t matter where your business is based. However, if you are shortlisted for live pitching on 17 October, you will need to ensure you are able to travel to London and be responsible for your own visa arrangements. It is not possible to pitch via video conference.

    Is this another start-up competition?

    No. This event is intended to spawn new partnerships between start-ups/SMEs and the five individual automotive brands. It is an opportunity to discover ideas and, if there is mutual interest, discuss a potential bespoke partnership.

    How will my idea or IP be protected? 

    You are free to negotiate bespoke IP ownership arrangements with the individual automotive brands. In terms of the live pitching, all the sessions are confidential. Each start-up or SME will be pitching to an automotive brand one at a time, so there will not be anyone else in the room apart from you and the automotive brand you are pitching to.

    Will applying online mean I am guaranteed a place to pitch on 17 October?

    There will be a screening and shortlisting process where the information you provide on the online application form will be used to match your ideas or solutions to what each of the five automotive brands is looking for. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas or solutions live on 17 October 2018.

    Can I choose which of the five automotive brands I want to pitch to?

    No. You can choose which of the seven defined mobility challenges your ideas or solutions can potentially address. Each of the seven challenges is owned by more than one of the five automotive brands, so there is a likelihood you may end up pitching to more than one brand.

    Can I pitch to all five automotive brands?

    It depends on which or how many challenges your ideas or solutions can address. Each of the seven challenges is owned by more than one of the five automotive brands, so there is a likelihood you may end up pitching to more than one brand, or indeed all five brands.

    How will I know who I will be pitching to?

    If you are shortlisted you will receive a formal invitation to pitch along with information on which brands you will be pitching to.

    I have more than one idea or solution. Do I need to make separate applications?

    It depends whether each of your ideas or solutions address the same or different challenges. For example, if you have separate solutions that can actually solve the same problem, put them in one application. If, however your solutions are aimed at solving different problems, put them in separate applications.

    What is the pitching format?

    If you are shortlisted to pitch, you will receive pitching guidelines that will help you prepare your pitch(es). As a hint, the format is likely to be similar to the questions you are asked in Section 2 of the application form. You will be given more time than a standard 120-second elevator pitch. The exact amount of time will depend on the number of pitches scheduled for the day. All these will be clearly set out in the pitching guidelines.

    If I’m shortlisted, how many people from my business can attend?

    Attendees will be limited to two representatives per company. However, if you wish to take up the option to exhibit, you are welcome to bring an additional colleague to look after your exhibition stand.

General guidelines to completing the online application form

The online application form consists of three sections:

  • Section 1 asks you about your business and your contact details.
  • Section 2 asks you about how your ideas or solutions could address one or more of the seven defined challenges.
  • Section 3 asks if you would like to register for inclusion in our Automotive Supplier Finder database.

You must complete Sections 1 and 2 of the form. Section 3 is optional; registering for our Automotive Supplier Finder enables us to match your business and its offerings with suitable opportunities in the future.

The form cannot be saved, so we suggest you complete the application form in one sitting. To help you prepare your answers for completion in one sitting, you may wish to review the questions in advance:

  • Which of the following challenge(s) does your solution seek to address? You will be asked to select as many as applicable from the seven defined challenges.
  • What is your main idea or solution to address the selected challenge(s)? This could be the concept, technology or service you are seeking to pitch. (420 characters)
  • What specific problem(s) does it solve? How your solution can address the articulated challenge(s). Be as specific as possible. (1,200 characters)
  • Why is your idea or solution deemed innovative? What sets it apart from competitors’ solutions or available alternatives in the market. (1,200 characters)
  • How mature is your idea or solution? How ready you are for commercialisation. Whether it is just a concept, a prototype, a minimum viable product or already on the market. (1,200 characters)
  • Where do you think you are headed and what is your ambition? Your current levels of funding and where you expect to be in 3 years’ time. (1,200 characters)
  • What are you looking for from the automotive brands? This could be a route to market, additional investment, mentoring/coaching assistance (e.g. incubator, accelerator), or other specific desirables based on your needs. (950 characters)

Application deadline is 30 June.

If you encounter technical difficulties when completing the form, please contact