• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment up to £9.5m in innovations that will address the need for a diverse mix of energy sources and systems over the next three decades and beyond. 

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £9.5m

  • Opens: 05 Jan 2015, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 11 Feb 2015, 12:00

  • Closes: 18 Feb 2015, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Integrated supply chains for energy systems

Competition results

Summary

The aim of this competition is to encourage cross-sector supply chains that can deliver integrated energy solutions at different scales to meet the many energy systems challenges of achieving a low-carbon economy by 2050. 
 
Projects should focus on both the demand and supply side across the energy networks of electricity, heat and combustible gases. 
 
This is a two-stage competition with a first stage of feasibility studies. Up to three projects will then be chosen for follow-on collaborative research and development (R&D) following a collaboration workshop on conclusion of the feasibility stage. At each stage, projects must be led by a business. 
 
Up to £500,000 of the total funding will be available for the smaller-scale feasibility studies. These can be single-company or collaborative. Small businesses could receive up to 70% of their eligible project costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%. 
 
We expect total eligible costs for feasibility studies projects to be no more than £40,000. Feasibility studies are expected to last up to three months. 
 
We plan to commit up to £9 million for the collaborative R&D projects in the second stage. Each consortium must involve at least one SME. For these industrial research projects, a business partner can attract 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). 
 
The first stage of this competition (feasibility studies) opens on 5 January 2015. The deadline for registration is at noon on 11 February 2015. The second stage (collaborative R&D) is by invitation and is expected to open on 7 September 2015
 
briefing event for potential applicants at the feasibility stage will be held in Birmingham on 15 January 2015. 
 

Background

Our energy systems – the way we supply and use energy in all its forms in the UK – are changing significantly as we strive with the rest of Europe to become a low-carbon economy by 2050. 
 
Over the coming decades we will see an increasingly complex mix and scale of technologies involved in generating, transmitting, distributing and storing energy. 
 
How we integrate new supply and demand side technologies and approaches to achieve resilient, affordable and sustainable energy systems is a big challenge. For instance, how will our energy systems adapt to meet the shifting demand from growing numbers of electric vehicles and from increased electric heating? 
 
However, UK businesses – and SMEs in particular – are finding that the level of investment and risk needed to validate their technologies at scale and as part of an integrated energy system is prohibitive. 
 
Valuable innovations may be lost to the energy market if SMEs are not effectively engaged in the supply chain. We want to address the issue through this competition, creating business opportunities along and across sectors and their supply chains. 
 
The UK's energy infrastructure may need more than £300bn investment to address the challenges of delivering secure and affordable energy for all, while meeting environmental legislation. Navigant and Bloomberg estimate that the market for smart energy systems will be worth £3 billion to £5 billion by 2020. 
 

Scope

This competition aims to stimulate innovations in energy systems integration so that cross-sector supply chains can eventually deliver new products and services for the energy market. 
 
Integrated energy systems include one or more of the vectors and networks of heat, combustible gases and electricity. 
 
We are encouraging development of robust supply chain partnerships from technology suppliers, system integrators and likely customers among suppliers and users of energy. 
 
First, we are seeking proposals for feasibility studies that identify novel solutions for energy systems integration and require partners to develop them further. The outcome should be a technology validation plan to highlight the scientific, technical and commercial feasibility of a potential follow-on collaborative R&D project. 
 
In the second stage of this competition, we will choose up to three projects originating from the feasibility studies to move ahead as large-scale collaborative R&D. Resultant projects will target delivery of real-world technology validation projects at a systems level. 
 
Proposals should address not only the technical aspects of systems integration but also the social, environmental and commercial challenges, with reference to one or more of the following areas (grouped under headings for clarity): 

Interoperability 

  • combining and /or aggregating individual technologies, such as distributed generation, energy harvesting, storage integration, heating and cooling, utilising waste and low-grade heat, virtual power plants 
  • multiple vector approaches, namely across electricity, heat and combustible gases 
  • innovations for infrastructure such as monitoring, management, communications, and control 
  • data, analytics, digital platforms, and security 
  • commercial models and protocols that enable technologies and systems to be used effectively together 
  • energy management solutions across clusters of buildings or networks 
  • other relevant and novel approaches to interoperability. 

Scalability 

  • developing energy systems at scale 
  • interconnection at multiple scales 
  • systems design 
  • other relevant and novel approaches to systems scalability. 

Adaptability 

  • consideration of multiple sites with different geographical constraints/ opportunities 
  • cross-sector innovation (for example digital, manufacturing, materials, built environment, telecoms, transport) 
  • technology transfer from other utility sectors, such as water and waste 
  • demand-side management innovation • tools and services for decision making or customer engagement 
  • other relevant and novel approaches to systems adaptability. 
 
The following technology areas are out of scope for this competition: 
  • individual generation or storage technology development (covered through our Energy Catalyst programme) 
  • building fabric measures or energy management solutions for individual buildings, to reduce energy demand (addressed in our Low Impact Building Innovation Platform). 
 
We encourage applicants to consider global opportunities as well as solutions for UK-based energy systems, and to look at how their proposition will bring about business benefits to the consortium. 
 
Applicants can take advantage of our free-to-use Horizons tool horizons.innovateuk.org/ to develop their proposals. 
 
Further information on all topics in this brief, plus free resources and opportunities to find collaborators are available from the Energy group on _connect: connect.innovateuk.org/sector/energy 
 

Funding allocation and project details

We plan to allocate up to £9.5m to fund this two-stage competition, comprising feasibility studies followed by collaborative R&D projects. 
 
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the size and type of organisation involved. 

Feasibility studies 

Up to £500,000 of the total funding will be available for smaller-scale feasibility studies. These can be single company or collaborative. 
 
Small businesses are eligible to receive up to 70% of their project costs as grant, a medium-sized business 60%, and a large business 50%. We expect total eligible costs for feasibility studies to be no more than £40,000. Feasibility studies are expected to last up to three months and must be completed no later than 31 July 2015. 
 
Once feasibility studies are completed, we will hold a two-day ‘invitation only' brokering workshop whose purpose is to bring together ideas for the second stage of collaborative R&D projects. Feasibility project leads will then have the opportunity to submit a proposal for the second stage – either in collaboration with other successful feasibility projects or on their own.

Collaborative R&D projects 

We expect to fund as many as three large-scale collaborative R&D projects, which must be led by a business and last up to two years. Each consortium must include at least one SME. 
 
Projects must aim to deliver technology validation either at full-scale, system or sub-system level. 
 
For these industrial research projects, a business partner can attract 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). For further information on funding rules go to https://interact.innovateuk.org/-/funding-rules 
 
For these industrial research projects, a business partner can attract 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). For further information on funding rules go to https://interact.innovateuk. org/-/funding-rules 
 
Applications for both types of project – feasibility studies and collaborative R&D – are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. At both stages we reserve the right to adopt a portfolio approach across the areas of interest.
 
To find out whether your business fits the EU definition of an SME, see: http://ec.europa.eu/small-business/faq/index_en.htm
 

Application process

Stage 1 – Feasibility studies 

The feasibility study element of this competition will open for applications on 5 January 2015. 
 
All applicants must first register via our website, and the deadline for registration is at noon on 11 February 2015. The deadline for applications is at noon on 18 February 2015. 
 
A briefing will be held in Birmingham on 15 January 2015 to highlight the main features of the competition and to explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend. Registration for this event will be at connect.innovateuk.org/events. 

Stage 2 – Collaborative R&D (by invitation only) 

We will hold a competition briefing and project collaboration workshop on 2–3 September (venue to be confirmed). Following the workshop, the collaborative R&D competition will open for applications on 7 September 2015 and close at noon on 22 October 2015. 
 
Note: all deadlines are at noon. 
 

More information

For more information and all the documents you need to read before you apply, including the Guidance for Applicants, go to the web page for this competition by using the search function at interact.innovateuk.org/ 
 
To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration closes a week before the deadline for applications. 
 
Competition helpline: 0300 321 4357
 

Help for SMes to grow faster 

Small businesses that combine the funding they receive from us with additional business support are more likely to grow faster. If you are an SME and receive funding through this competition, you will automatically gain access to a growth workshop, an online diagnostic and a growth expert to help you develop a growth plan. This may include coaching, mentoring, entrepreneurial skills training. 

Publicity

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. E-mail pressoffice@innovateuk.gov.uk with any queries. 

Key dates

Feasibility studies competition opens: 5 January 2015 
Competition briefing: 15 January 2015
Registration deadline: 11 February 2015 noon
Deadline for applications: 18 February 2015 noon
 
Collaborative R&D stage opens (for invited applicants): 7 September 2015
Competition briefing/ project collaboration workshop: 2-3 September 2015
Deadline for applications: 22 October 2015 noon