• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £10m for the third round of the Energy Catalyst, to successfully address the energy 'trilemma' of low carbon, security of supply and affordability.

  • Programme: Other

  • Award: Up to £10 million

  • Opens: 30 Apr 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 02 Sep 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 09 Sep 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Energy Catalyst - Mid-stage awards - Technology development - Round 3


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 Innovate UK, 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 £10m is available for the third round, opening 30 April 2015

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.

The energy trilemma is creating major global market opportunities for which the UK can develop and grow innovative businesses to deliver world-leading solutions. The objective of the Energy Catalyst is to accelerate UK business growth in this global challenge area by leveraging the best of UK innovation.

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 £200k for early-stage awards, up to £1.5m for mid-stage awards, and up to £10m for late-stage awards.

The competition is open from 30 April 2015. The deadline for registration for mid-stage awards is noon 2 September 2015 and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 9 September 2015

Please note that there will be a briefing by webinar on Wednesday, 20 May 2014 from 13.30-15.30 for those wishing to find out more about Round 3 of the Energy Catalyst. This will include information on the scope, funding and the application process. 



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.
The energy trilemma is a global challenge creating market opportunites around the world for UK innovators. 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 (pv, thermal and concentrated), biomass*, geothermal, heat pumps, energy from waste
  • 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 propulsion 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, robotics, advanced materials, sensors, control systems, virtual technologies, modeling and simulation 
  • open theme: technologies where applicants are confident they meet the scope but which are not specifically covered by the above categories (eg energy harvesting).

* 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 Innovate UK 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).
** Full details concerning technology challenge areas that are both in and outside the scope of the Energy Catalyst can be found in the guidance for applicants and should be read before applying.


Funding allocation and project details

Mid-stage awards – Technology development

Mid-stage awards will fund projects that take innovative ideas forward through the technology development stage by conducting industrial research and development including, for example, laboratory studies, component or system development and testing, verification and evaluation in simulated environments.
N.B: Business Partner Funding Rules for Mid Stage Technology Development projects have changed since Energy Catalyst Round 1. 

Key features 

  • Two stage application process: expression of interest followed by full applications from invited applicants
  • Must have a proven concept
  • Must be business-led and collaborative
  • Research organisations can take part but not lead a proposal
  • Duration: up to 36 months
  • Total project costs: up to £1.5million  
  • Total research partner costs: must not exceed 30% of total project costs
  • Business partner funding: up to 70% of their total project costs for Small/Micro SMEs, 60% for Medium SMEs or 50% for larger companies.

Application process

The competition opens for all stages on 30 April 2015.

Mid-stage – Technology development

These awards follow a two-stage application process.
Stage 1 - Applicants submit an expression of interest which is assessed*.
Stage 2 – We invite selected applicants to submit an application. 
The deadline for registration is noon 2 September 2015 and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon 9 September 2015.
Note: All deadlines are at noon.
*Applicants for follow-on projects to previously-funded, completed and successful Energy Catalyst projects should also register and submit EoI application forms, but will be invited to submit a full-stage application. Applicants wishing to re-submit (and improve) a previously unsuccessful Energy Catalyst application should also register and submit an EoI using new Round 3 application forms and also note new £1.5m max project budget and funding rates.
Further detail concerning the mid-stage application process can be found in the guidance for applicants and applicant briefing recording.
There was an Energy Catalyst Round 3 brokerage webinar held on 3rd July. The Webinar and presentations are now available.

Key dates: mid-stage awards

  • Competition opens: 30 April 2015
  • Registration deadline: 2 September 2015 noon
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: 9 September 2015 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. 

Previous Competition Results

Cleantech Collaboration Nation 2016

Energy Catalyst - Round 2

Energy Catalyst - Mid-stage awards - Technology development - Round 1