Business Model Innovation: qbots energy


To achieve net zero carbon emissions, we need to improve energy efficiency amongst the 5.7m small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK.

Manchester firm qbots:energy has been awarded funding from the Government innovation competition “Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency” to developing a Digital Energy Efficiency Platform. aimed at developing digital solutions that encourage low carbon and energy efficiency improvements for SMEs.

Energy Systems Catapult is providing qbots:energy with Business Model Innovation and Consumer Insight support for their innovations that aim to lower a businesses energy costs by optimising a buildings energy assets such as solar of battery storage, using low cost Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and Al/data analytics in response to energy system.

The Challenge and Opportunity

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 99% of businesses in the UK and are responsible for over 50% of energy use.

Many industrial sites and large retail businesses with multiple sites are often able to reduce costs or earn new revenues deploying low carbon energy and smart storage solutions. Yet many of these interventions are not viable for medium size half-hourly metered business customers (over 120,000 in UK) and over 2 million small businesses as part of the smart metering rollout. These businesses often lack the time and resources to proactively monitor and take actions for energy efficiency and demand shifting.

The Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency (BASEE) competition aims to accelerate the growth of the energy services market for SMEs by driving down transaction costs and promoting third party investment in small-scale energy efficiency projects. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched BASEE with £6m of funding for innovative, scalable business models or solutions that facilitate investment in small energy efficiency retrofit/refurbishment projects in commercial and industrial buildings.

The Innovation

qbots was founded in 2017 by Dr Li Yao and Vijay Natarajan with a vision to bring IoT, data analytic , machine learning and automation capabilities to energy management, utilising energy storage.

qbots’ aggregates and utilises flexibility in consumer demand along with renewables & battery storage to enable localised trading and balancing, with the aim of building smart energy systems of the future.

They utilise Artifical Intelligence (AI) to power two levels of prediction and control; one at the site level and one at the network level, enabling buildings to respond to notifications from the electricity grid to shift their electricity demand & use battery storage, while maintaining thermal comfort for its tenants and any constraints.

  • The BASEE project will utilise qbots new Q-Energy platform to enable SMEs customers to save on their energy bill by switching supplier, reducing energy consumption with behavioural changes and investments in energy efficiency as well as utilising battery and demand side management technology to respond to time-of-use tariffs. Q-Energy can utilises time-of-use tariffs with demand management technologies such as battery storage, solar PV and smart EV charging on-site (e.g. shifting electricity consumption sourced from the grid to battery storage during times of peak demand).

Our Approach

Energy Systems Catapult is providing Business Model Innovation and Consumer Insight expertise to support the BASEE project, exploring the overall feasibility of the current business model, including segmenting the target market and looking at the value proposition they are offering potential customers; while exploring business model alternatives.

The Catapult will work with an SME stakeholder group to determine their understanding of the Customer Value Proposition and how the offering may overcome time and resource constraints to improve energy efficiency.