• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £25m for the first round of the Energy Catalyst, to successfully address the energy 'trilemma' of reducing emissions, improving security of supply and reducing cost.

  • Programme: Other

  • Award: Up to £25m (total, for all three stages of award)

  • Opens: 19 May 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 29 Oct 2014, 23:59

  • Closes: 05 Nov 2014, 23:59

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Energy Catalyst - Early-stage award - Technical feasibility

Competition results

See here for the competition results.


Registration is required to enter this competition. Please note that registration will close one week before the competition application deadline.
The Energy Catalyst has been established by the Technology Strategy Board, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to accelerate innovation in the energy sector from concept to pre-commercial readiness by providing investment and support at the time, in the way and at the scale innovators need it. Funding of up to £25m is available for the first round, opening 19 May 2014.
The Energy Catalyst is open to innovative businesses and researchers from any sector who can address the three major challenges facing the energy sector - the energy ‘trilemma' of:
  • reducing emissions
  • improving security of supply
  • reducing cost.

These challenges are creating major global market opportunities for which the UK can develop and grow innovative businesses to deliver world-leading solutions.  

The Catalyst will support projects that contribute to all elements of the energy trilemma and funding will be available for three stages of technology development:

Organisations can apply for any stage of funding at any time, depending on where in the development cycle their technology sits.

Early-stage projects must be led by an SME either working alone or collaboratively or by a research organisation collaborating with a business. Mid-stage and late-stage projects must be business-led and collaborative. Total project costs can be up to £300k for early-stage awards, between £500k and £3m for mid-stage awards, and between £1m and £10m for late-stage awards.

The competition opens on 19 May 2014. The deadline for registration for early-stage awards is noon on 29 October 2014 and the deadline for applications is noon 5 November 2014.

A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 20 May 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend.

Brokering events

Register for the Energy Catalyst Brokering events in:


Energy underpins almost every aspect of our daily lives and yet it is invariably taken for granted. However, global legislation, domestic energy policies, regional supplier disputes and rising consumer costs mean we cannot do so any more. Consistent policy, regulation, co-ordination and funding are needed to ensure innovative technologies can be developed and demonstrated effectively to help solve all elements of the energy trilemma:
  • reducing emissions
  • improving security of supply 
  • reducing cost.
Within the UK alone, real opportunities to develop innovative new products and services are presented by domestic policy and legal requirements, such as:
  • the legally-binding obligation that, in the UK, 15% of total energy must come from renewable sources by 2020 and the statutory requirement that UK greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (based on 1990 levels)
  • the security of an estimated 85GW indigenous supply requirement in the UK by 2020
  • the need to provide affordable energy for all.
The energy sector is already a significant contributor to the UK economy. In 2012, UK energy industries contributed 3.5% of GDP (£55bn) and directly employed approximately 176,000 people. In addition, the global market opportunity is valued in trillions of pounds. The size of the market and the possibilities for innovation to address the trilemma are creating major opportunities for which the UK can develop and grow innovative, sustainable businesses and supply chains to deliver world-leading solutions.
The size of the challenge means that no one organisation can deliver an energy programme in isolation. A co-ordinated approach is needed that will allow publicly-funded innovation to be developed from a concept stage all the way through to pre-commercial demonstration. It is for these reasons that the Energy Catalyst has been established.


The Energy Catalyst will support businesses and researchers from any sector, who can deliver innovative solutions that contribute to all elements of the energy trilemma: reducing emissions, improving security of supply and reducing cost, when considered from a full ‘energy system' perspective, acknowledging that some solutions may be biased more to one or two of these elements 
The Energy Catalyst will fund projects from early concept stage through to pre-commercial technology validation, based upon innovation that incorporates, for example:
  • new technologies 
  • enhancement or alternative applications of existing technologies
  • development of components, sub-systems or systems
  • integrated whole-system approaches
  • enabling technologies for the energy system.
We are keen to attract proposals which bring new and innovative solutions and applications into the energy sector and its supply chain. In addition, we want to encourage the adoption and integration of cross-cutting, enabling technologies which are applicable across a range of sectors, for example, high-value manufacturing, advanced materials, sensors and information and communication technologies (ICT).
Indicative examples of technology areas that are within the scope of the Catalyst include, but are not limited to, those listed below:
  • carbon abatement: minimising environmental impact of fossil fuels and their associated applications to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Includes carbon capture, transport, utilisation and storage for large-scale power and industrial CO2 emitters
  • renewable energy: wind, wave, tidal, solar, biomass*, geothermal
  • nuclear fission: front-end fuel cycle, plant construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance. Waste management and decommissioning
  • hydrogen and fuel cells: hydrogen production, transport and storage. Fuel cells for stationary and other applications (eg, portable power) NB excludes technology development focused solely or predominantly on transport applications*
  • energy networks and system integration: electricity and heat networks. Technologies for energy transmission, distribution and storage and the integration of systems to deploy low carbon energy. Includes smart grids, power electronics, storage technologies and waste heat
  • demand-side technologies: technology development to reduce and/or manage energy demand at scale. Includes energy efficiency measures for the end user including industrial energy efficiency enabling technologies and processes: includes ICT,  high value manufacturing, advanced materials and sensors
  • open theme: technologies where applicants are confident they meet the scope but which are not specifically covered by the above categories.
* see exclusions in section below
Further information on many of the above technology challenge areas can be found in the technology innovation needs assessments produced on behalf of the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group.

Out of scope

There are a limited number of areas where the Energy Catalyst will not fund projects currently, including where:
  • there are specific Technology Strategy Board funding programmes already in place, including:
    • built environment and building management systems (addressed through the Low Impact Building Innovation Platform, for example)
    • transport (addressed through the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, for example)
    • bio-energy (where already addressed by the Bioscience programme or the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst).
  • the scale of funding requirements and timescales to commercialisation are unlikely to be addressed by a Catalyst (nuclear fusion, for example) except where early spin-out technologies for commercialisation in the energy sector are being targeted
  • there is no explicit technology component (the idea is for a new business process or market model, for example).
Further detail concerning technology challenge areas that are outside the scope of the Energy Catalyst can be found in the guidance for applicants.

Funding allocation and project details

Early-stage – Technical feasibility studies

Early-stage awards will fund projects that explore and evaluate the technical potential of an early-stage innovative idea or concept through technical feasibility studies. The project will aim to establish if a pre-industrial concept is ready for further technology development.

Key features 

  • Single- stage application process
  • Must be led either by an SME (acting either individually or collaboratively with any type of organisation) or by a research organisation (collaborating with business)
  • Duration: up to 12 months
  • Total project costs: £50k - £300k
  • Total research partner costs: must not exceed 50% of the total project costs
  • Business partner funding: up to 75% of their total project costs for SMEs or 65% for larger companies
  • Research organisation funding: up to 100% of their total project costs (up to 80% of FEC for academic institutions).

Application process

The competition opens for all stages on 19 May 2014.

Early-stage – Technical feasibility studies

These awards follow a single-stage application process. 
Applicants must first register via our website by noon 29 October 2014. The deadline for applications is noon 5 November 2014.
Note: All deadlines are at noon.
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held on 20 May 2014 in London and by webinar to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process.
Applicants are strongly recommended to attend a briefing event.  
Further detail concerning the early stage application process can be found in the guidance to applicants.

Key dates: early-stage awards

  • Competition opens: 19 May 2014
  • Briefing event: 20 May 2014
  • Registration deadline:  29 October 2014 noon
  • Deadline for applications: 5 November 2014 noon

Note: All deadlines are at noon.

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications. 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.