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Innovate UK partners Ofgem, Free Electrons to put energy network innovators ‘on a global stage’

The new partnership will allow innovators the chance to work with leading global utilities. Image: Getty

The new partnership will allow innovators the chance to work with leading global utilities. Image: Getty

Innovate UK is to partner with global business accelerator programme Free Electrons to provide a boost to start-ups as part of Ofgem's Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

The SIF was launched this year with an intention of spending around £450 million over five years on energy network innovation, with innovative companies and energy networks teaming up to submit projects for funding. It’s hoped this will bring the most promising solutions to commercialisation as quickly as possible.

The new partnership will give selected innovators that have won SIF funding access to the Free Electrons global network and ‘Bootcamp’ module. Those selected will have a chance to work closely with leading global utilities, with this helping to potentially refine their value propositions, establish pilot projects or explore investment opportunities.

The programme focuses on collaboration between start-ups and utilities to pilot projects, commercially deploy products, facilitate investment opportunities and learning and development, with deals to date exceeding US$50 million (£37 million).

The final 15 start-ups selected to progress following the Bootcamp module will also be in the running for a prize of US$200,000.

Matt Hastings, deputy director of the Ofgem SIF program at Innovate UK, said: "Working with Free Electrons will help us put selected winners on a global stage with the world’s leading utility companies, helping them to grow and scale nationally and internationally, attract investment and support UK consumers to realise maximum value from the fund.”

The SIF forms part of Ofgem's RIIO-2 price control and is to replace the existing Network Innovation Competition. Previous projects to have won funding from this include UKPN’s Constellation project, which is looking to make substations more intelligent at a local level, making them capable of analysing millions of datapoints and automatically reconfiguring the network to safely enable higher volumes of electricity to flow through it.

Other projects include ENW’s QUEST which sees Smarter Grid Solution's Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems software used to create a fully coordinated, overarching system to manage voltage and balance centralised and decentralised energy control systems, and project RICA from National Grid Electricity Transmission.

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