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Energy Systems Catapult to support innovators with launch of Energy Launchpad challenge calls

The SME Networks Innovation Challenge Call is to address innovation challenges in the electricity and gas system. Image: Getty

The SME Networks Innovation Challenge Call is to address innovation challenges in the electricity and gas system. Image: Getty

Two challenge calls are being launched by the Energy Systems Catapult with the intention of helping develop investment strategies and strengthen the ideas of SMEs.

The first of these - the SME Investor Readiness Challenge Call - is designed for SMEs developing innovative products and services deploying energy as a service (EaaS) models, with an aim of developing investment strategies and an SME’s readiness for funding the deployment of net zero business models.

Some of the market sectors of interest include energy aggregation and demand side flexibility, as well as the integration of innovative low carbon generation or infrastructure into building or estate fabric.

Other areas of interest include zero carbon domestic heating and cooling solutions as well as active, interoperable control systems that deliver more efficient and flexible operation of the whole energy system.

Innovators taking a whole system, user-centric approach that are seeking to engage with corporate partners to realise opportunities for aligning EaaS models with ESG targets are of particular interest, the Catapult said.

The second call - the SME Networks Innovation Challenge Call - meanwhile, is inviting applications from innovators with solutions that address the "critical innovation challenges” in the electricity and gas system.

This call is aligned with the four Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) challenge areas that were announced in May 2022. These are supporting a just energy transition, preparing for a net zero power system, improving energy system resilience and robustness and accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands.

As part of this programme, the Catapult will work with key industry stakeholders to provide selected SMEs with incubation and acceleration support to develop and strengthen their ideas and businesses.

This is to help get the SMEs ready for future applications to relevant network innovation funding streams such as the SIF and Network Allowance.

The programme will have two phases, with the first to provide up to 10 businesses with support to develop compelling value propositions and outlined business models that would prepare them for an application for Discovery phase funding.

The second phase will provide up to five businesses with a tailored suite of commercialisation services delivered over a five month period.

It follows the second round of a separate programme designed to accelerate SME innovators who are developing low carbon energy solutions opening for applications in February.

This programme was developed by the University of Birmingham in partnership with the Energy Systems Catapult, with those who are successful to have access to a range of linked opportunities, including business engagement support through the Birmingham Energy Institute ATETA programme and ESC’s Energy Launchpad Incubation Programme.

More information on the two new challenge calls can be found here.

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