Funding competition Key technology components for local energy systems

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £3 million to develop technology components that help improve the efficiency of local energy systems.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections

Description

UK Research and Innovation will invest up to £3 million in important technology components that can enhance the efficiency of local energy systems. These should deliver cleaner, cheaper energy services and create more prosperous and resilient communities across the UK.

We are looking for specific innovations that are listed in more detail in our ‘specific themes’ section.

Your project must align with the overall objectives of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge. You are also expected to share data with the Energy Systems Catapult’s Energy Revolution Integration Service (ERIS) and the Energy Revolution Research Consortium, EnergyRev.

This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge.

Funding type

Grant

Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £500,000.

Who can apply

State aid

Any UK business claiming funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time we confirm you will be awarded funding. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance.

Your project

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £100,000 and £500,000. It must:

You must carry out your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

Lead applicant

To lead a project you must be a UK based business of any size.

The lead organisation must claim grant funding through this competition.

Collaborations

To collaborate you must be:

Partners with no funding

Your project can include partners that do not receive any funding, such as non-UK businesses, public sector organisations, industry associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or bodies involved in setting regulations, standards or codes. Their commitments will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

Multiple applications

Any one business can lead on one application only and collaborate in a further 2 applications.

If a business is not leading an application, it can be a collaborator in up to 3 applications.

An RTO, public sector organisation, catapult or individual members of the EnergyRev consortium can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Previous applications

Resubmissions

Resubmissions are allowed. You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition. A resubmission is a proposal Innovate UK judges as not materially different from one you've submitted before. It can be updated based on the assessors' feedback.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole organisation and were awarded funding by Innovate UK or UK Research and Innovation, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we will award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision.

We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members, and communicate it to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until we have received the documents.

Funding

We have allocated up to £3 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

An SME working on its own can claim up to a maximum of £300,000

If you have research organisations in your consortium they can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

We reserve the right to use a portfolio approach. This is to make sure that the strategic criteria described are met for all projects considered to be above the quality threshold. It is done through independent expert assessment and will cover both the competition and the wider Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme.

Your proposal

The innovation accelerator is open to technology components that:

At the end of your 2-year project you must provide compelling, quantified evidence that:

  • it has achieved the criteria in this competition brief
  • you have considered and managed post-project benefits from the start

Specific themes

We will fund innovations in these areas:

  1. Applications for monitoring electricity and/or gas network hardware and software.
  2. Enhancing integration between local and national electricity networks, both electricity system operators (ESO) and distribution system operators (DSO).
  3. Enhancing integration between local and national electricity markets (wholesale market, balancing mechanism and ancillary services)
  4. Multi-site, real time generation optimisation across multiple operators or aggregators.
  5. Enhancing the efficiency of heat networks.
  6. Heat and cold storage, especially inter-seasonal storage.
  7. Optimised vector coupling solutions: electricity, heat and transport.

Research categories

We will fund feasibility projects and industrial research projects, as defined in the general guidance.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that do not meet the aims of the competition, for example proposals that:

  • do not meet the criteria in this brief
  • are not innovative
  • involve niche configurations, unlikely to be replicable or scalable across the UK in the 2020s

15 July 2019
Briefing event
22 July 2019
Competition opens
9 October 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
13 December 2019
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the general guidance for applicants before you start.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Application details

The lead applicant must complete this section. Give your project’s title, start date and length. Is the application a resubmission?

Project summary

Describe your project briefly, and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Please do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Project scope

Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers to these questions. You will receive feedback from them for each question.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any URLs in your answers.

Question 1: Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Describe or explain:

  • how your innovation will support a more whole systems approach and be integrated within a local energy system
  • deliver according to the specific themes identified, exceeding the vision for technology components that are currently being trialled elsewhere
  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project is focused on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 2: Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how you will respond to the need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art identified
  • whether the innovation will focus on the application of existing technologies in new areas, the development of new technologies for existing areas or a totally disruptive approach
  • the freedom you have to operate
  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example, report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3: Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • the roles, skills and experience of all members of the project team that are relevant to the approach you will be taking
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You can submit one appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 4 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4: Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5: Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

Describe or explain:

  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers and/or end users, and the value to them, for example, why would they use or buy it?
  • your route to market
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation (increased revenues or cost reduction)
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project
If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

Question 6: Wider impacts

What impact might this project have outside the project team?

Describe, and where possible measure:

  • the economic benefits from the project to external parties, including customers, others in the supply chain, broader industry and the UK economy, such as productivity increases and import substitution
  • any expected impact on government priorities
  • any expected environmental impacts, either positive or negative
  • any expected regional impacts of the project

Describe any expected social impacts, either positive or negative on, for example:

  • quality of life
  • social inclusion or exclusion
  • jobs, such as safeguarding, creating, changing or displacing them
  • education
  • public empowerment
  • health and safety
  • regulations
  • diversity

Question 7: Project management

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the relevant research category, the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms that will be used for a successful and innovative project outcome.
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You can submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8: Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how these risks will be mitigated
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 pages long. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9: Added value

What impact would an injection of public funding have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • if this project could go ahead in any form without public funding and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as faster to market, more partners and reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the business of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 10: Costs and value for money

How much will the project cost and how does it represent value for money for the team and the taxpayer?

Describe or explain:

  • the total project cost and the grant being requested in terms of the project goals
  • how the partners will finance their contributions to the project
  • how this project represents value for money for you and the taxpayer and how it compares to what you would spend your money on otherwise?
  • the balance of costs and grant across the project partners
  • any sub-contractor costs and why they are critical to the project

3. Finances

Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisational details and funding details. Academic institutions will need to complete and upload a Je-S form. For full details on what costs you can claim please see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

Extra help

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, email us at support@innovateuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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