Stimulating Technology Innovation

A series of calls for energy proposals via Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst to co-fund technology innovation.

A series of calls for energy proposals via Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst to co-fund technology innovation by UK enterprises.Transforming Energy Access (TEA) co-founding has enabled the Energy Catalyst to target innovative energy technologies suited for developing country communities from the UK, including working with international partners.


Energy Catalyst scope and objectives

The Energy Catalyst was established by Innovate UK and the Research Councils to accelerate innovation by providing investment and support at the time, in the way and at the scale innovators need. It will help stimulate and support innovation at all stages through to commercial readiness, bringing the best ideas, processes, products and skills to market.

The central scope through all rounds has been to fund energy technology which tackles all three areas of the Energy ‘trilemma’ of:

  • Reducing carbon
  • Enhancing security of supply
  • Reducing costs  

 Co-funders could then provide funding for their priority areas. For example, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) focuses on scientific excellence and the Department fir International Development (DFID) on the energy access needs of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Energy Catalyst strategy

The Energy Catalyst supports UK businesses, universities and research organisations to respond to global challenges and market opportunities across the energy sector. It funds projects delivering innovative solutions that address all elements of the energy trilemma and that have scope to deliver future UK business growth.

TEA involvement:

With many in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia without reliable energy services, traditional, centralised grid-based approaches are not feasible or affordable for the majority of unserved poor households. However, innovations within energy technology such as storage, smart grids and business models such as pay-as you go options, as well as the decreasing costs of renewables, many of which have been pioneered by UK businesses, means the UK is well placed to drive this transformation.

Therefore, the DFID TEA programme began cofounding the Energy Catalyst competition in 2015 as part of Round 3 allowing the programme to fund projects which specifically aimed at markets in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. This also allowed the programme to fund international partners as part of projects for the first time. As the rounds continued, and DFID became the key funder, the energy access needs of Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, alongside energy technologies which tackled all three areas of the Energy trilemma, has become the main focus of the scope.

Energy Catalyst round 6

Round 6 of the Energy Catalyst is focused on funding innovative technologies which hit both the energy trilemma and help countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia access secure, low cost and low carbon energy. The competition has three strands, enabling projects from early concept stage through to late stage for experimental development.

To be eligible, UK business or research organisations, need to identify relevance to developing country energy challenges and clearly explain how their technology would provide energy access for poor households or enterprises in Sub Saharan Africa and/or South Asia. Partnerships with developing country organisations are strongly encouraged for all projects to ensure tangible impact on the ground which last well beyond the lifetime of the funding. Mid and late stage projects must involve some research and development, testing or demonstration work in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. 


Energy Catalyst Directory - July 2018 (PDF)


View details of the Research call - Bioenergy for Sustainable Energy Access in Africa

Read more about the Partnership Structure

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