Net Zero Heat: Design Engineering Innovation Lab

Join a 5 day workshop to develop project ideas for delivery of net zero heat building upgrades. The best ideas will be invited to apply for funding.

Opportunity Details


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There is no grant award provided for this EoI Stage. Selected proposals designed at the Innovation Lab and subsequently invited to Stage 3 are expected to have total grant request between £1.5 million and £5 million, which can cover up to 70% of project costs.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £8.5m in innovation projects. As part of a three stage Innovation Lab you will be supported in creating and undertaking innovative, collaborative, research and development projects.

The aim is to accelerate the shift to a net zero economy. It offers the opportunity to develop project ideas that will improve the delivery and reduce the cost of net zero heat building upgrades through design and system engineering processes.

The Innovation Lab will bring together experts and insights from across different sectors to collaborate effectively and develop new solutions.

  • We are looking for a range of individuals from multi-disciplinary organisations to bring a diversity of knowledge. Not all will be typically associated with the heating or building renovation sectors. Organisations can include, but are not limited to, those active in:

    • user-centred design, consumer and sector finance, housing and energy policy, urban planning, justice and equality, law and regulations
    • providers of social services and facilities, third sector organisations working with vulnerable people, skills and training providers, owners of portfolios of buildings
    • automotive, robotics, manufacturing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, remote sensing and computer vision
    • net zero technology and solution providers, construction professionals, building performance evaluation professionals
    • agencies of relevance to making an important contribution to the net-zero mission

    To apply to participate as an individual in the Innovation Lab you must have the support both as an individual and be able to commit resources for your organisation to a potential stage 3 project.

  • This competition is split into 3 stages:

    • Stage 1: Expression of interest in attending the Innovation Lab (this stage)
    • Stage 2: Participation in all 5 days of the Innovation Lab
    • Stage 3: Selected proposals developed at the Innovation Lab will be invited to apply for funding to undertake a collaborative research and development project

    If invited to the 5 day collaborative residential Innovation Lab, you must commit to attend on behalf of and with the support of your organisation. The Innovation Lab will take place between 18 and 22 September 2023.

    The location and agenda for the Innovation Lab will be included in your invite to attend.

    Attendees to the Innovation Lab will work together to develop collaborative proposals for research and innovation projects that will deliver concept demonstrators.

  • To apply to participate as an individual in the Innovation Lab you must have the support both as an individual and be able to commit resources for your organisation to a potential stage 3 project.

    You must be:

    • part of a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, a research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit organisation or public sector organisation
    • able to commit to attending all 5 days on a residential basis at the nominated UK location
    • able to show you can work collaboratively and have the relevant skills, expertise and experience to represent your organisation
    • able to demonstrate you have the authorisation from your organisation to undertake a project that relates to the scope of this competition
    • able to demonstrate the resources and financial support your organisation will commit

    If you plan to take part in the Innovation Lab you must submit your application yourself. If someone else makes an application on your behalf it will be ineligible.

    Your organisation can be involved in any number of applications for individuals. If more than one individual from an organisation applies, we expect to invite only one individual per organisation to participate in the Innovation Lab.

  • There is no grant award provided for Stages 1 and 2. Innovate UK will pay your residential and subsistence costs to attend the Innovation Lab, excluding alcohol and other personal expenses. You must pay your travel costs to and from the Innovation Lab.

    You can discuss other costs with Innovate UK by emailing and these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You will not be paid for Innovation Lab attendance or proposal development.

    Project proposals successfully developed and selected at the Innovation Lab will be invited to apply for funding support in a separately assessed stage 3 application.

  • Projects invited to Stage 3 are expected to have total grant request of between £1.5 million and £5 million, which can cover up to 70% of costs.

    We have allocated up to £8.5 million in Stage 3 to fund projects developed, based on the invited Innovation Lab proposals.

    Organisations involved must:

    • carry out their project work in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from the UK
    • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)
    • involve at least one grant claiming micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)

    Your project can include non-grant claiming partners.

    Successful Stage 3 projects must start before 1 February 2024 and must finish by 31 March 2025.

  • The Net Zero Heat programme is overcoming barriers to enable a faster roll-out of decarbonised heat for buildings.

    The UK must move away from gas as a source of heating space and water in buildings to meet its net zero commitments.

    The Net Zero Heat programme focuses on the following three approaches:

    • Market demand: standardised information on what renovation to do, where and when for maximum impact
    • System barriers: to bridge scaling gap leading to growth in supply chains and localised deployment
    • Design engineering: to reduce capital and installation cost across the system of net zero building upgrades and heat provision
  • The aim of the Innovation Lab is to generate innovative and commercially viable new ideas. This will address the systemisation of delivery of net zero heat in buildings to make the process more efficient, effective and a lower cost.

    The Innovation Lab will invite individuals representing a cross-disciplinary of organisations to come together for 5 days. They will explore and propose new solutions, using whole systems thinking, approaching complexity in terms of wholes and relationships rather than by splitting it down into parts.

    The Innovation Lab will foster innovation and creativity in research design. It will provide a dedicated environment to allow participants to collaborate in designing and proposing novel projects. The project proposals may then be offered the opportunity to apply for funding support to carry out projects in a further separately assessed stage 3 application.

    We are looking for unique consortia to emerge, developing project ideas decarbonising and reducing the heat requirements of buildings through design and system engineering.

    Project ideas will be developed over the course of the Innovation Lab. Innovate UK, mentors and facilitators will help participants to ideate and form potential teams to build and review emerging project proposals. Ongoing contact with Innovate UK and mentors throughout the week will help project ideas stay within scope.

  • As an individual applying to this expression of interest (EoI), you must show you are able to offer one or more of the following:

    • demonstrable experience, interest, involvement, thinking and preparation on net zero renovation and design and systems engineering
    • experience of developing and pitching project ideas
    • understanding of sector industrialisation to reduce cost through collaborative design and system engineering
    • understanding of how people interact with buildings in their life and work environment, particularly those in vulnerable or marginalised groups

    Project proposals developed at the Innovation Lab must centre on the following:

    • a just transition, ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded in approaches to net zero heat in buildings
    • delivery of substantial upgrading of building portfolios
    • reducing the cost and speed in delivery of building upgrades
    • targeting decarbonisation of the whole system
    • delivery of approaches at scale
    • solutions demonstrated on real developments
  • An online briefing event will be held on Thursday 20th April, 10am-noon: click here to register for a place. A recording will be made available following the event.


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