Energy Catalyst Round 10
Maximum project costs: early stage up to £300k per project, mid stage up to £1.5m, late stage up to £5m. Up to 70% of costs can be covered depending on business size and stage applied for.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to invest up to £10 million in innovation projects. This funding is part of the Ayrton Fund.
The aim of this competition is to accelerate the innovations needed to create new or improved clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or Indo-Pacific regions. Creating a just and inclusive energy transition, and extending the benefits of clean energy to all to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) 7 and 13.
Your proposal must focus on:
- improving energy access in Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions
- having a technology or business model which is affordable, reliable and low carbon
This competition is split into 3 strands:
- Energy Catalyst Round 10 – early-stage (feasibility projects)
- Energy Catalyst Round 10 – mid-stage (industrial research projects)
- Energy Catalyst Round 10 – late-stage (experimental development projects)
It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope. See the guidelines on categories of research.
All projects must:
- start on or after 1 April 2024
- end by 31 March 2027
- help deliver clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or the Indo-Pacific
- include a UK registered administrative lead
- if you are an international organisation, partner with a UK administrative lead
- involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), from anywhere in the world
Early stage projects can have costs of £50k-£300k and last 3-12 months.
Mid stage projects can have costs of £50k-£1.5m and can last 6-24 months, must involve testing and or demonstration work in an eligible ODA country, and must involve at least one legally separate collaborator.
Late stage projects can have costs of £50k-£5m and can last 6-36 months, and must involve at least one partner with a legal entity in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific region (this can include in-country offices), must involve testing and or demonstration work in an eligible ODA country, and must involve at least one legally separate collaborator.
There are two types of leads in the energy catalyst programme, an administrative lead, who will complete the application and a technology lead.
An administrative lead is there to act as the recipient of the award and will distribute funding to all other partners. This is known as a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The administrative lead will manage and be accountable for the finances of the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award.
The administrative lead must be a UK registered organisation of any siz. For early stage, the administrative lead organisation must be or involve at least one eligible grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). For mid and late stage, the administrative lead must be a UK registered business of any size.
A technology lead will lead on the development of the scope, work packages and any other technical work.
The technology lead:
- can be a business of any size (for early stage, this can be an RTO or academic institution)
- can be from anywhere in the world
- must claim grant funding through this competition
UK registered organisations can be both the administrative and technology lead if the criteria is met for both types of leads.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- non-government organisation (NGO)
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
For mid and late stage, there must be at least two grant claiming participants who are working on the project. This can include the administrative lead if they are doing technical work outside of the project administrative responsibilities. You must also involve at least one partner with a legal entity in one of the focus countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific, this can include in-country offices.
For early stage, the inclusion of international partners (business or other), where relevant to the project, is strongly encouraged.
All eligible organisations can lead or collaborate on any number of applications across all 3 strands.
The aim of this competition is to accelerate the innovations needed to create new or improved clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific region. Creating a just and inclusive energy transition, and extending the benefits of clean energy to all to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) 7 and 13.
To be in scope for Energy Catalyst round 10 your project must address both energy access and clean energy.
Your project must aim to speed up access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households, enterprises and social institutions in official development assistance (ODA) eligible countries in sub-Saharan -Africa, the Indo-Pacific region, or South Asia. It must do this by supporting the development, testing or scale up of innovative technologies or business models.
A clear social or economic benefit in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific Region is required.
This can include:
- creating new energy access in unserved regions
- improving existing access to provide a more reliable service
A list of eligible regions is available on the funding pages for each strand.
While projects can focus on any ODA eligible country, we are particularly keen to receive projects which focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
Your technology or business model must create clean energy which is:
- Low carbon
While any technology which meets the above criteria is in scope, priority will be given to the following Ayrton Challenge priority areas:
- next generation solar technologies and business models: enabling new, locally manufacturable, cost effective alternatives
- smart green grids: including mini and main grid related technologies
- energy storage: enabling higher intermittent renewable energy penetrations on the grid, and improving access in areas unserved, or poorly served, by the grid
- green hydrogen: developing relevant technologies and value chains to bring forward zero carbon hydrogen fuels
- modern cooking: unlocking the transition from biomass to genuinely clean cooking, delivering major health and environmental benefits
- low energy inclusive appliances: improving the efficiency, performance, availability, and affordability of end use domestic and productive appliances adapted to developing country needs
- leave no one behind, specifically technologies and business models: ensuring the benefits of the clean energy revolution reach the poorest and most marginalised, including women, those with disabilities, people in humanitarian contexts, and those accessing healthcare in unelectrified clinics
- sustainable cooling: to help meet growing global cooling demand in a warming world, in a sustainable way
Innovate UK and The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), have allocated funding for projects specifically aimed at replacing diesel and petrol generators with sustainable alternatives, ideally integrating several of the technologies above.
Over 50% of your project must focus on energy access and energy innovation to be in scope. This is determined from your project costing and work packages.
Briefing events and support
Briefing events were held in person in London on Tuesday 21st February and in Edinburgh on Tuesday 28th February. Click here to watch the recording.
Register for the competition information event in Nigeria here.
Register for the competition information event in Kenya here.
If you want help to find a project partner, contact Jonathan Abra at Innovate UK KTN.
Related Events and Recordings
Energy Catalyst Briefing: Launch and Brokerage Events
10.00 - 16.30 | In Person & Online
Energy Catalyst Competition Information Event - Nigeria
11.00 - 14.00 GMT+1 | Abuja, Nigeria
Energy Catalyst Competition Information Event - Kenya
11.00 - 14.00 GMT+3 | Kenya