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Centrica launches social impact grant scheme to support energy innovation

Image: Centrica.

Image: Centrica.

A new grant scheme from Centrica could see up to ten organisations secure between £100,000 to £500,000.

Energy for Tomorrow is a not-for-profit social impact scheme created by Centrica and designed to support entrepreneurs who have concepts and innovations that tackle climate change, lower energy bills and deliver what Centrica describes as “real impact to people and communities”.

Between six and ten eligible organisations – which range from charities, Community Interest Companies (CIC) and both not-for-profit and for-profit companies with “a clear social mission” – are to be partnered as part of the scheme.

Over the span of up to three years, each organisation will receive a grant of between £100,000 and £500,000.

Smaller organisations with a turnover of less than £1 million and projects focused on the UK will be given priority, as well as entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

Sarah Wright, fund manager at Energy for Tomorrow, stressed that the importance of diversity in achieving innovation “cannot be underestimated”.

Centrica pointed to research from Beauhurst that found that 91% of all venture capital investment in the UK is raised by companies with all male founding teams, as well as research from RateMyInvestor showing that just 1% of venture-backed founders were black over the last five years.

“British industry is missing out on a huge pool of talent whose ideas and innovations could deliver significant impact and benefit to society,” Wright added.

Energy for Tomorrow is now calling for applications focusing on the inaugural theme of ‘innovations that help make people’s lives easier and more sustainable’.

The scheme’s revenue is derived from the feed-in tariffs of solar panels installed on over 250 schools across the UK, with the panels currently saving each school nearly £2,500 each year, Centrica said.

The Big Six supplier appointed a new chairman, Scott Wheway, in March, as well as announcing Chris O’Shea as CEO.

As a reaction to COVID-19 the company has furloughed 3,800 staff members from its British Gas arm, as well as halting the proposed 2019 final dividend payment which was intended to be paid in June.

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