Net Zero Living: Understanding the User Focused Products programme
The User Focused Products programme of work is part of Innovate UK’s broader Net Zero Living programme – a £60 million, three-year initiative that helps places and businesses across the UK to accelerate the delivery of the transition to net zero.
Its goal is to support businesses to better understand and respond to the needs, opportunities and barriers that are preventing the large-scale roll out of net zero solutions. As with the overall programme, the focus here is not on developing a lot more tech solutions, but better using what we have by ensuring that solutions are addressing real needs and challenges.
Underpinning the programme is an appreciation of the co-benefits of a net zero transition, many of which are of more relevance and importance to people than the net zero end goal itself. Better jobs, greater energy security, cleaner air, reduced congestion, cheaper bills, more cohesive communities and other co-benefits are stronger immediate drivers of action and net zero solution adoption than reducing carbon emissions are, so part of our approach with this programme is looking at how we deliver solutions people want and need in a net zero manner, rather than pushing net zero solutions upon them.
The programme will support businesses in three interlinked strands of work: user testing net zero products and services through an innovative design competition; driving novel digital applications using data; and supporting net zero collaboration and deployment in international markets.
- User focused design: The aim of this competition is to support ambitious, early-stage growth businesses in developing net zero products or services through meeting real demand. This competition closes on 4th October, full details including the recording of the briefing can be found here.
- Digital Accelerator: This competition is looking to stimulate digital innovation by utilising existing and emerging data to drive forward digital innovation across net zero sectors. This will build on previous data and digital related competitions including Modernising Energy Data Access, Modernising Energy Data Applications, and Open Digital Solutions for Net Zero Energy. The details of the competition winners can be found here.
- The digital fast start programme will support high potential early-stage businesses to develop their products & services and kick start their business growth journey, by utilising existing and emerging data to drive forward digital innovation across net zero sectors. This £1.5m competition will open early 2024, we expect 30 projects.
- International collaboration: Four strands of engagement supporting business learning, development and growth, these including:
- Net Zero City Twinning – linking UK places and their innovation ecosystems with international city collaborators in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan to share challenges and learning, and to co-create new solutions.
- Net Zero Incubators – a programme of managed learning and support for 2+ cohorts of net zero businesses to fully understand, immerse, and innovate solutions for the Indian net zero market.
- Bilateral – a three-year programme to develop and deploy solutions with South Korean collaborators that address common net zero challenges across the two markets.
- Net Zero Africa Innovation – a £2m competition linking UK and African innovators to develop and deploy net zero solutions in a number of target markets.