Innovators with Low Carbon Interoperable Energy Solutions wanted for West Midlands challenge

Published: 7 May 2020

Energy Systems Catapult is launching an Innovator Challenge call for SMEs developing Low Carbon Interoperable Energy Solutions in collaboration with Climate-KIC and supported by Energy Capital – part of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) developing innovative products and services that enable the integration of low carbon solutions within complex urban and commercial environments – are invited to apply for acceleration support.

Low Carbon Interoperable Energy Solutions from across the whole energy system are welcome, and could include:

  • Integrating innovative low carbon generation or infrastructure technologies into the building or estate fabric
  • Zero carbon domestic, commercial or industrial heating solutions
  • Leveraging data from end users, infrastructure and networks to create new services and business models that accelerate the transition to net zero
  • Enabling active, interoperable control systems that delivers more efficient and flexible operation of the whole building & estate energy system
  • Delivering cleaner transport solutions.

The Challenge is particularly interested in innovators that are taking a whole system, user-centric approach that can be applied to: reducing fuel poverty, adopting alternative transport systems, creating digital interoperability across the energy system or optimising energy networks supplying West Midlands industry.

Paul Jordan, Innovator Support Platform lead, said: “One of the biggest challenges to achieving the UK’s climate change goals is creating integrated energy systems, delivering low carbon places in which people can live and work.

“Yet smart controls and interoperability between innovations remain a barrier for integrating buildings, estates and the wider energy system.

“So, we’ve launched this Innovator Challenge with the aim of unleashing products and services that can deliver benefits across the built, commercial and industrial environment for multiple stakeholders – from building occupants and owners to networks, system operators and energy suppliers.”

Aled Thomas, Climate-KIC, said: “The West Midlands is developing ambitious plans and actions to transition to a clean energy system, building on the considerable strengths and expertise in the region.

“EIT Climate-KIC is pleased to be partnering with Energy Systems Catapult and other key stakeholders to deliver this challenge programme which will identify and support innovative companies with a major contribution to catalysing the low carbon transition, responding to real-world challenges in the region.”

Innovator Challenge – Low Carbon Interoperable Energy Solutions

This is the 5th Innovator Challenge run by the Innovator Support Platform (ISP) at Energy Systems Catapult. The aim of the ISP is to help innovators unlock new routes-to-market, secure investment and breakdown barriers to growth – with at least two innovator challenges running each year.

Successful SMEs will have access to advanced energy system expertise from the Catapult and partners including support from West Midlands universities, Local Authorities, Industrialists and around 40 firms offering a range of specialist business support.

This Innovator Challenge has two phases:

  • Phase 1 will provide up to 12 early cycle SMEs with a programme to develop their Customer Value Proposition, Business Model and Investor Readiness delivered over a period of some 2 months. This cohort will then be invited to attend a curated Investor Pitch event to help them gain further investment and business support.
  • Phase 2 will provide up to 4 later cycle SMEs with a tailored suite of commercialisation services delivered over a 5-month period, designed to accelerate their commercial and investor readiness.

West Midlands Energy Innovation Zones

Members of the Innovator Challenge advisory board will help to introduce SMEs from both phases to potential partners working on innovation projects across the West Midlands, including those in Energy Innovation Zones (EIZ). These five unique zones were established to support the acceleration of low carbon innovations to address the key challenges of this call: Integration / Heat & Fuel Poverty / Alternative Transport Solutions.

Deadlines

Applications are now closed. A shortlist of SMEs will be generated and must be available to attend a workshop at the Catapult innovation hub in Birmingham on the 16 and 17 of June 2020.

About the Advisory Board

Its members include, Aston University, University of Birmingham, WMCA, Energy Capital, Engie, National Grid, Minerva, SHAP, Places for People, Cadent Gas, Tyseley Energy Park, Coventry City Council, Climate-KIC, Birmingham City Council.

This group supports many of the innovation projects currently being developed or deployed in the West Midlands. Projects cover a wide spectrum of themes relevant to the energy transition and the Advisory Board has come together to support the creation of this incubation and acceleration programme and the SMEs selected.

About EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy.  Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, we identify and support innovation that helps society mitigate and adapt to climate change. We believe that a decarbonised, sustainable economy is not only necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change but presents a wealth of opportunities for business and society.

We bring together partners in the worlds of business, academia, and the public and non-profit sectors to create networks of expertise, through which innovative products, services and systems can be developed, brought to market and scaled-up for impact.  Through our convening power, EIT Climate-KIC brings together the most effective groups to create the innovation that can lead to systemic change. 

Further details

Examples of innovation areas include (but are not limited to):

  • Tools that collate and manage building, occupancy and energy data, enabling Demand Side Management (DSM) practices to drive energy efficiency improvements, helping track performance and supporting asset managers in planning and undertaking building maintenance (e.g. building passport type solutions), and optimising lifetime costs.
  • Products and services that unlock large-scale deployment or integration of IoT sensors to capture building performance and occupancy data. Associated services that use this data to deliver bespoke energy efficiency and low carbon retrofit recommendations and financing solutions.
  • Improvements in building design or the installation processes of low carbon heating solutions that minimise the disruption and impact to the building and building occupier during retrofit and operation leading to higher adoption rates.
  • Innovative low carbon retrofit solutions for generation, storage and efficiency.
  • Interoperable control systems for power (DC or AC), heat and transport to improve outcomes for occupants and estate owners that support the adoption of flexible local energy systems.
  • Microgrid solutions.
  • Data Services that improve forecasting, balancing and investment decisions or provide user centric recommendations relating to:
    • Energy as a service
    • Optimising energy distribution efficiency
    • Local area energy planning (LAEP) decisions
    • Optimisation of investment costs.
    • Building usage & utilisation through better end user experiences
  • Innovations that increase consumer engagement, leading to the adoption of low carbon energy solutions (across power, heat and transport) and behavioural change in consumption patterns and attitudes.
  • Financing solutions that deliver returns incrementally over the building or estate life cycle.
  • Business models with an emphasis on community energy projects emphasising local engagement, leadership and control where the local community benefits collectively.