Quick, safe and affordable. Design, market-test and launch innovative products, services and business models for Net Zero with real people in over 1000 connected homes

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Accelerating zero carbon innovations by testing with real people in real UK homes

Decarbonising UK homes is one of the hardest challenges on the way to Net Zero.

Energy Systems Catapult created the Living Lab to offer a quick, safe and affordable, real-world test environment to de-risk and scale innovations by running trials directly with consumers in their homes.

With over 1000 digitally connected smart-homes, spread across England, Scotland and Wales with a variety of tenures, property types and demographics, the Living Lab is digitally open, interoperable and scalable. With room-by-room sensors and a digital integration platform – innovations can be tested with mainstream smart meters, IoT devices, smart heating controls, battery storage, solar PV and electric vehicle chargers.

Innovative businesses can rapidly design, market-test and launch smart energy products, services and business models.

The Living Lab also provides national capability to test and demonstrate market arrangements, policy and regulations with real consumers – as we move towards a Net Zero carbon future.

Living Lab - open for energy innovation trials to accelerate commercialisation

Independent validation

Validate the performance of your product or service with real consumers in real homes

Consumer feedback

Understand how people use your product or service, what they like and dislike

Value for money

No need to build your own lab or recruit your own trialists (but help can help you recruit your own if preferred)

Rapid testing

Your trial could be up and running in 2–3 months, with up to 500 homes ready to test innovations


Making sure you product integrates and works alongside other technologies

Established and trusted

A national asset helping energy innovators since 2015 – backed by Government to test and demonstrate market arrangements, policy and regulations

What we offer

Energy Systems Catapult is truly open, interoperable and scalable, offering real-world testing of new energy products, services and business models to de-risk and scale innovations for market.

Why do we need a Living Lab?

Digitalisation and decarbonisation are likely to reverse the current value flow from the centralised, supply-side dominated system to the consumer side of the meter.

A new wave of technology and service firms is likely to focus on exploiting this value behind the meter, but the UK supply chain is not geared up to respond to the new value drivers.

No-one is clear how to respond. Policy makers can’t design new market arrangements because they lack evidence on the efficacy of one choice versus another; investors can’t evaluate returns, either in assets or in innovation, as they don’t know how the future market will operate; while regulators can’t design rules to protect consumers since they don’t know which solutions are viable and will get traction. Without change, the likely outcome is disrupted and fragmented value chains, and stranded assets.

The energy sector is thinking hard about how to play in a smarter, more connected world. Suppliers are considering selling services. Manufacturers are trying to sell connected home products. The potential changes needed in the supply network are unknown. It’s difficult to find out what consumers will value.

The potential opportunities are huge:

  • Statista (2019) estimate that the UK smart homes market will have a value of £2.6bn by 2024. Imperial College (2018) estimate that smart electric heat could generate system savings of £3.9 billion a year. The investment opportunity to retrofit UK homes is estimated at £100 billion.

Energy Systems Catapult has built the Living Lab to help the UK energy sector, Government and regulators create a Net Zero energy system with consumers at the heart.

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Amp X case study: Testing a Digital Energy Assistant in the Living Lab

Innovators using the Living Lab

Product Performance & Consumer Insight

Scottish innovator arbnco is trialling a new digital air quality platform with consumers in the Living Lab with the aim of reducing indoor air pollution, improving ventilation, and safeguarding health.

Around seven million deaths worldwide, and 40,000 in the UK, are attributed to air pollution each year. Yet indoor air quality – including levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) – can often be overlooked compared to outdoor air quality linked to vehicle emissions, despite being up to five times worse in places.

Analysing the air quality results with data on the property and occupants will allow arbnco to deliver alerts on potential harms and advice on mitigating health impacts.

With a growing focus on improving ventilation in buildings due to Covid-19, coupled with the need to improve energy efficiency and therefore the airtightness of homes, the global ventilation market is expanding rapidly, already exceeding £2b in value and expected to reach almost £9b by 2027.

The Living Lab trial comes in the slipstream of arbnco being awarded almost £300k in funding from Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition, which is supporting innovators in developing and demonstrating new products and services which monitor a wide range of household pollutants.

arbnco believe there is a strong market for their solution with housing portfolio owners, such as the private rented sector and with purpose-built student accommodation, as well as with equipment manufacturers – including Mitsubishi, who are aiming to integrate arbnco’s air quality platform into their domestic ventilation systems for testing.

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Arbnco case study: Digital air quality platform testing in the Living Lab

Get in touch

Arrange a free virtual session with the Living Lab team to discuss a range of options for how best to deliver your trial.

Contact us

Want to know more?

Find out more about how Energy Systems Catapult can help you and your teams