Innovators inspire forward thinking for the Energy Knowledge Exchange

Published: 13 February 2017

On Thursday 2nd February, the Energy Systems Catapult hosted a mini-hackathon aimed at enabling SMEs who depend on access to knowledge and research to grow their innovation business.

The Energy Knowledge Exchange (EKX) is a new digital platform that is being developed and trialled by the Energy Systems Catapult in partnership with leading knowledge partners UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Energy Networks Association (ENA).

Significant limitations exist for innovative SMEs who need access to the wealth of research and knowledge that is being generated across the energy landscape. The platform aims to enable entrepreneurs and innovators to browse, explore and act on much more energy research and innovation knowledge, as well as industry data, and to find potential partners from across the whole sector- from academia to industry.

The team successfully tested a demonstration EKX platform with rich features to help energy innovators, which has now undergone months of in-depth trials. In time the Catapult aims to enable SME users to discover and access more data resources free of charge and to develop communities to support their own innovations. At the same time, the Catapult will support the EKX Partner Network with valuable usage data and analytics to evidence their value delivery to innovators involved with the changing energy system.

David Phillips, from the Energy Systems Catapult, said:

“Together with our SME-user community and our research database partners, the Catapult is learning how to link users with vital data and opportunities for collaboration and funding. It’s early days but our EKX innovation has uncovered new ways to use powerful digital search services, making them available to users at relevant points in their knowledge journey. The features in EKX will help SMEs and other innovators to access knowledge that is already out there, at the same time allowing them to consciously control their navigation across many websites and services. Our vision is for a free-to-use platform offering users the benefits of learning from previous research and innovation, relevant practical next steps for innovating and engagements with potential partners to grow their own business.

The mini-hackathon took place in Birmingham at the Energy Systems Catapult’s office. Useful feedback and insights were captured at the session which is being incorporated into the platform by the project team. There are clear calls for the project to continue with one higher education institute putting in a plea for a wider trial: “I would really like to get this prototype out to my students.” Another focused on the smoother knowledge journey and said: “…it’s an interesting and innovative [prototype], I very much think it provides a better user journey.”

The team leading on the EKX platform has already taken forward the feedback by convening a discussion with research owners, academia and stakeholders. It was recognised that the entire value chain of knowledge needs to be connected, starting with energy research and ending with the many users who want to apply that research to innovation.

Mr Phillips continued:

“Knowledge exchange for our energy innovators also depends on strong partnerships to connect the key data resources outside the Catapult and on relevant digital curation for energy innovation. If we rise to the challenge of maintaining a lasting digital environment, innovators can access the energy knowledge they need to deliver the future needs of the changing energy system. Our EKX event has certainly refocused our efforts. The Catapult is already working closely with energy research data partners who now recognise the opportunity and want to configure the platform to enable ongoing access to under-used knowledge.”