What is a Catapult?

Catapult centres are being established and overseen by Innovate UK as a new addition to its range of programmes to stimulate innovation. They are places where the best of the UK’s innovative businesses and researchers work together to bring new products and services more quickly to commercialisation. Focusing on areas with great market potential, Catapults will open up global opportunities for the UK and generate economic growth for the future.

For more information, please visit the Catapult website.

How are Catapults funded?

In addition to funding received from Innovate UK, direct contracts with UK business form a significant part of the overall funding for the Catapults. The Catapults are also well positioned to secure funding from competitive Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) grants, including EU funding.

The aim is that, once established, the Catapults will generate their funding broadly equally from three sources:

  1. Business-funded R&D contracts (i.e. contract research) won competitively
  2. Collaboratively applied R&D projects funded jointly by the public and private sector, again won competitively
  3. Core public funding for investment in the capabilities; know how, expertise and skills and long term capital assets of the centre.

Why was the Energy Systems Catapult set up?

While there is considerable innovation activity in energy systems in the UK, it is still rare for new technology based products and services to reach the market, especially from SMEs. The challenges include:

  • the sector is regulated, necessarily conservative and complex
  • SMEs do not often have the resources to navigate the complex market
  • the development pathway to market is significant and most new technology related products and services require rigorous test and demonstration before being used in live energy networks
  • there is little expertise in integrating new end-to-end solutions
  • the ‘direction of travel’ for the UK’s energy systems evolution is not yet understood well enough to enable industry and markets to deliver solutions with confidence

The Catapult was set up to provide capability to address these challenges.

What will the Energy Systems Catapult deliver?

The Catapult will:

  • focus on systems integration and deliver the frameworks, methodologies and best practices that enable and facilitate definition, design, implementation and introduction of successful solution
  • develop a whole systems modelling capability to support analysis of whole system requirements and solutions
  • build a curated set of datasets, assumptions and other inputs which will support modelling, analysis and other studies of whole system requirements, solutions and strategies
  • develop a rapid prototyping and test capability
  • provide managed access to demonstration facilities supported by processes and skills
  • build a set of resources that can be used to inform the sector on whole system market, regulatory and strategic matters and which will help assure alignment of technology direction with national requirements
  • provide evidence to support the design of appropriate Government policy and regulation

What is the Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) Programme?

Begun in 2012, The SSH programme aims to create future-proof and economic local heating solutions for the UK. It does this by connecting together the understanding of consumer needs and behaviour with the development and integration of technologies and new business models into enhanced knowledge to deliver industry and investor confidence to implement changes in UK heat provision.

Phase One of the SSH programme is delivering new design solutions and insights in areas including local area planning, consumer behaviour, technology design and supply chain activities. This essential work provides the foundation for location-specific energy systems design that will deliver sustainable heating for the UK in the long-term – to 2050 and beyond.

What is the relationship between the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) in relation to the SSH programme?

As of November 2nd 2015, the ETI’s programme team transferred to the ESC in Birmingham.

From this point, Phase One of the ETI SSH programme will be delivered by this programme team, as suppliers to the ETI. It is expected that the ESC team will then go on to deliver Phase Two of the project independently of the ETI.

The ESC is taking on the development and design of Phase Two of the SSH programme. In Phase Two, the programme will continue work with three local authorities, (Newcastle City Council; Bridgend County Borough Council and; the Greater Manchester Combined Authority), to demonstrate the innovative EnergyPath software, which aims to help with the planning of cost effective local energy systems for the UK.

Why has the SSH programme transferred from the ETI to the ESC?

The ETI is a ten-year partnership model between industry and the UK government that runs until the end of 2017. Its SSH programme has significant overlap with the scope of the ESC. The SSH programme is expected to extend beyond 2017 and so the programme capability has been transferred to the ESC as one of its initial five programmes.

What is the EnergyPath software, and how does it benefit the programme and the industry?

EnergyPath is a software modelling suite that can be used for the planning of cost-effective local energy systems. It is evolving to include a number of packages to inform planning activity, consumer insights and business metrics. It is currently being tested in a study with Newcastle City Council involving local gas and electricity distribution companies to investigate the most efficient solutions for low-carbon heat.

Why have only three local authorities been chosen to pilot the EnergyPath software?

ETI has been engaged with a number of local authorities as the SSH programme has evolved. The ETI has chosen to work with Newcastle City Council, Bridgend County Borough Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop the software further and test its output when operating across different locations.

The three locations provide a good representation of different parts of the UK. Feedback from the testing with the three authorities will identify areas of improvement ahead of the software being widely accessible in 2016.