#CollectiveFuture Insights: Helping SMEs access the energy industry

Published: 27 May 2017


Over 150 SMEs shared their experiences of engaging with some of the UK’s gas and electricity distribution networks for research commissioned by the Energy Innovation Centre’s (EIC) and Energy Systems Catapult and carried out by independent research company, Renuma.

Backed by the EIC’s network partners, the two organisations undertook the study earlier this year to understand the relationships between key players in the industry and how they work together with SMEs to advance innovation in the energy sector.

The #CollectiveFuture Insights paper shines the spotlight on relationships between the networks and SMEs from EIC’s global innovator community, and identifies blockers and barriers to innovation adoption.

EIC’s network partners – UK Power Networks Scottish & Southern Energy Networks, SP Energy Networks, Northern Powergrid, Northern Gas Networks, Wales & West Utilities and Cadent – were also asked to give their experiences of working with third party innovators as part of the study

Key points

The survey showed that:

  • Overall, 80% of SMEs had engaged with at least one distribution network operator (DNO) or gas distribution network (GDN).
  • While larger SMEs (more than 100 employers) are more likely to be engaged, SMEs of all sizes are collaborating successfully with networks across sectors.
  • Collaborations and network innovation funding is critical to SMEs engaging with this sector.

Other insights outlined in the study include ten areas for improvement that SMEs believe would impact relationships positively and help to accelerate adoption of innovation into business as usual, creating more opportunities for UK companies and strengthening the supply chain.