Three UK innovators on mission linking Japan and Africa

Published: 18 February 2020

Three innovative UK companies working in sub-Saharan Africa have been selected for a trade mission to Japan this week with Energy Systems Catapult.

Connected Energy Technology, Modularity Grid and Sure Chill – that provide, respectively – remote monitoring and control products for off-grid renewable energy systems, an AI-driven platform for setting up and operating mini-grids and a cooling technology that harnesses water to enable continuous cooling in places with inconsistent power supply.

The trip is supported by the British Embassy in Tokyo, part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has a remit that includes “building Britain’s prosperity through increased trade and investment in open markets” and will introduce the UK firms to potential Japanese collaborators.

The three Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) selected to travel to Japan this week, include:

Connected Energy Technologiesis a renewable energy Information Communications Technology company with offices in Edinburgh, London, Kigali (Rwanda, East Africa) and Bhubaneswar (India).

Their products work by cheaply and securely linking renewable energy systems (solar PV and biogas) to communication networks. This linkage enables:

  • Flexible financing options (including ‘Pay As You Go’)
  • Carbon market integration
  • Lower maintenance costs for local retailers and installers, by providing remote monitoring and control

End-users of their solar PV and biogas solutions benefit economically and socially, removing the barriers to renewable energy uptake in lower-income countries.

Modularity Gridequips energy suppliers, bringing electricity to lower-income communities that are off-grid, with an AI-driven platform that reduces time, expertise and costs involved in setting up and operating low carbon mini-grids.

The company is currently leading an international consortium in the development of a portfolio of up to 100 low carbon mini-grids across Sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Uganda.

Sure Chillis a platform cooling technology which harnesses a unique property of water to enable continuous cooling from inconsistent power.

Sure Chill’s technology is far reaching, improving healthcare by bringing reliable cooling to countries without reliable power. This includes vaccine refrigeration, where vaccines are kept at optimum temperature in the absence of any power supply for days. By supporting immunisation programmes in the world’s poorest countries, Sure Chill’s devices have helped the most in need in 49 countries since the launch of their first medical refrigerator in 2011.

The cooling technology can also improve living conditions, enabling people to enjoy the benefits of chilled food and drink where it has not previously been possible.

Energy Systems Catapult project lead, Andrew Stokes, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this mission of UK firms with innovative energy access technologies.

“As stated in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7, energy access is a huge global challenge, with 1 billion people worldwide currently without access to electricity. This mission hopes to encourage collaboration between UK and Japanese firms in this sector; we believe combining UK innovative technologies and Japanese knowhow offers a great opportunity to contribute, whilst creating new business relationships.”