Innovator Challenge: Smart Heating and Cooling


Following a successful pilot with digital energy innovators, Energy Systems Catapult is launching a new Incubator and Accelerator – offering SMEs tailored support to de-risk innovation, help their businesses scale and secure investment.

Incubation or Acceleration Support will be offered by the Catapult’s Innovator Support Platform, with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) selected from two Innovator Challenges each year based around the smart energy system.

Innovators are invited to apply for this first challenge on Smart Heating and Cooling, which closes on Friday 5th April 2019 at 5pm.

APPLY HERE: Smart Heating and Cooling


The Opportunity

The Innovator Support Platform (ISP) at the Catapult supports innovators to open routes to market whilst helping them to tackle business growth challenges. These could include developing the consumer offering, defining and strengthening business models, product development, gaining access to test and validation facilities, forming partnerships or securing investment.

A significant driver of CO2 generation and energy use within the UK is from heating systems used in both commercial and domestic applications.  Work carried out by the Catapult as part of the Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) and Future Power Systems Architecture (FPSA) programmes has highlighted significant areas of innovation value to the system.

The ISP would like to invite SMEs who are working on innovative clean energy solutions for heating and cooling in a variety of building types and usage to submit applications for Incubation or Acceleration Support services.

What solutions are we looking for?

The ISP is seeking product or service innovations that have the consumer or end user as the focus, encouraging engagement with low carbon technologies, cross-vector solutions and energy reduction measures. Examples could include:

1) Improving performance and cost effectiveness of building fabric retrofit and low carbon heating and cooling solutions

2) Better targeted retrofit in homes through the combination of data/simulation/control and packaged installed solutions which could unlock performance guarantee approaches

3) Lower carbon hybrid heating/cooling solutions for occupied buildings

4) Advanced multi zone control solutions as an enabler for better performing and more appealing low carbon heating and cooling and delivery of new energy service business model

5) Innovative solutions at the user-interface of district heating networks that allows improved aggregation and optimisation of the network

6) Diurnal to multi-day or seasonal heating and cooling storage and related deployment solutions

The focus of this theme is around the smart, digital, connected heating and cooling solutions that utilise data to encourage consumer engagement to deliver services and outcomes.  The underlying technology which delivers can be considered in isolation but will be looked at more favourably when integrated or considered as part of a whole system.

Who are we looking for?

The ISP is looking for a varied range of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that are addressing the challenge of decarbonising heating and/or cooling.  These organisations must meet the following criteria:

  • Solution must address one of the challenge areas identified above;
  • Qualify as Micro, Small or Medium Enterprise: SME Definition;
  • Innovations must be at least in the Technology Development stage. If pre-technology demonstration the Innovation must show significant potential or benefit to the energy system;
  • SME must be registered in the UK;
  • Confirm that they are available to participate in a workshop hosted at the Catapult innovation hub in Birmingham on May 1st and 2nd if invited;
  • Prepared to work with Catapult in developing deliverables identified below (case study, lessons learned, etc).

Why should you be interested?

The Catapult’s Innovator Support Platform has been established to help innovators bridge the gap between their disruptive technologies and the established system.  By working with the ISP we believe SMEs can benefit in the following opportunities:

  • By leveraging the Catapult’s expert capabilities, assets and tools, SME’s can accelerate product or service commercialisation or scale up;
  • SMEs could develop a deeper understanding of market needs and consumer preferences, and opportunities to deliver decarbonised heating and cooling solutions;
  • Further expand learning around heating and cooling technologies and their relative performance and acceptance from consumers;
  • Test and validate consumer models and technologies delivering heating and cooling solutions.
  • Engagement with Living Labs and consumer panels that provide a real-life environment for trialing consumer proposition and services.

In addition, their may be opportunities to access to other Service Platforms (in addition to the ISP), that are working on: integrated energy solutions for the public sector estate, common design tools for Smart Local Energy Systems, designs for large scale trial environments in real homes under new market arrangements and connecting energy innovators to International opportunities.

More on Catapult expert: Capabilities and Assets

More on Catapult market engagement: Service Platforms

Incubation and Acceleration Support

The ISP will work directly with the innovators to understand their challenges and future plans and look to deliver a tailor-made programme of Incubation or Acceleration Support to help them develop and grow.

The support will be delivered through a combination of Catapult capabilities, assets and selected delivery partners and could include, but is not limited to the following:

  1. Modelling Services that would prove the value and impact of an innovation on the energy system, an assessment of competing technologies and price points that would need to be met to be competitive and dynamic simulations of domestic innovations on performance, cost and comfort;
  2. Consumer Insights support to research, design and trial new products or services in real world homes using cutting edge data science, user experience design and in-depth consumer data to see beyond what people say and understand what they do;
  3. Digital and Data services through our in-house Data Science and AI teams alongside a Living Lab of 100 homes, enabling innovators to test innovative products, services and business models with consumers;
  4. Systems Integration support to help SMEs understand how their products and services can integrate in to a future energy system;
  5. Facilitation of Business Model Innovation to support investable routes to market;
  6. Horizon scanning & Market Analysis;
  7. Funding Landscape Review working with Bid Management team to identify opportunities for funding and alignment with ongoing infrastructure projects;
  8. Investor readiness assessment and preparation;
  9. Technical Expertise and Insights from a whole systems perspective that considers the technological, engineering, economic, regulatory and policy implications for innovations.

Who pays for the Incubation and Accelerator Support?

As part of ISP Incubation and Acceleration Support an innovator can expect to benefit from in-kind support that meets de minimis requirements of support for state aid.  SMEs are eligible if they have received less than €200,000 worth of public support over the last three consecutive fiscal years.

Application & Key Dates

A shortlist of SMEs will be generated and must be available to attend a workshop at the Catapult innovation hub in Birmingham on May 1st and 2nd.

The workshop will be an opportunity to network, gain a deeper understanding of the Catapult capabilities, assets and the ISP support network, and engage with the ISP team directly to discuss support needs.

Following the event, a number of SMEs will be selected to receive Incubation or Acceleration Support services through the Innovator Support Platform.  An Incubation Manager will then be assigned to the SME to work together and define the package of support to be delivered under the ISP.

  • March 18th – Entries opened
  • March 29th – queries will be responded to up to this date
  • April 5th 5pm – Entries closed
  • May 1st/2nd – SME workshop
  • May 20th – SMEs informed
  • May 20th to June 27th – Due diligence and project scoping / work commenced
  • December 2019 – Projects to wrap-up and dissemination

Shortlisted SMEs invited to the SME Workshop will be part of a 2-day event with key industry leaders discussing the impact, opportunity and challenges around decarbonised heating and cooling solutions.  Accommodation for the night between the two days will be covered by the Catapult in addition to an opportunity for some networking over dinner.

Individual surgeries and workshops with Capability and Asset experts will be available to help the SME understand their challenges and areas of support that are available.

Expectations from us

As part of the ISP programme, the Catapult is aiming to develop learnings and understanding that can help with the deployment of decarbonised heating and cooling solutions within the UK and international markets.  To this end we anticipate that the work with the innovator will yield the following outputs:

  • Case studies covering an innovators work to decarbonise heating and cooling systems;
  • Reports that identify key findings that can help the whole energy market drive towards decarbonisation;
  • The Catapult will learn of further challenges facing innovators in delivering heating and cooling solutions and consider these as part of on-going work with the energy industry and policy makers;
  • Collation of evidence to support potential policy and regulation changes to aid adoption of decarbonised heating and cooling solutions;
  • Lessons learned that can be shared with the industry.

Dissemination of wider implications of this work forms a key part of the Catapult’s role within the energy system and due care and consideration will be taken to protect the Intellectual Property of innovators engaged within the programme as part of these dissemination activities.

Innovator Challenge: Smart Heating and Cooling