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Detailed designs of smart, local energy systems


UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £30million to develop clean, cheap local energy systems that create prosperous, resilient UK communities. This funding is from the ISCF’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will invest up to £30m in revolutionary designs for local energy systems. Designs must deliver cleaner, cheaper energy services and create more prosperous and resilient communities across the UK.

This competition is part of a wider Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) programme called Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER).

The aim is to create a pipeline of highly innovative, ambitious and investable local energy system designs that will be ready to roll out across the UK in the 2020s. Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Proposals must be focused on a specific, named, UK location. The locality must be at least the size of a town but our ambition is to fund ground-breaking local energy systems projects up to city or region scale (or equivalent industrial, rural or other area in terms of energy capacity).

Your consortium must demonstrate the ambition, expertise and ability needed to drive fundamental change in the energy system of the locality. You must be able to replicate this change in another locality in the coming decade. It must incorporate a wide range of consumer types and demonstrate a significant change in scale and impact against comparable projects internationally.

Projects must:

  • Develop revolutionary market and business model approaches for the provision of smart energy systems
  • Develop a detailed understanding of energy supply, distribution and consumption patterns in your locality
  • Understand the current and future energy assets, networks and consumer needs in your locality
  • Integrate new energy technologies across heat, power and transport in a way that is replicable and scalable to multiple areas across the UK
  • Reduce the whole system costs of energy provision, resulting in significantly smaller bills for the end consumer
  • Validate the revenue streams and value proposition of the proposed business model
  • Write sound financing and investment proposals for the implementation of the energy system design which share the benefits and risks fairly between investors, consumers, utilities and authorities
  • Show an integrated approach to managing energy supply, distribution and consumption across heat, power and transport
  • Consider the future role of gas as well as electricity systems
  • Describe how you will aim for an open data and systems design policy wherever possible
  • Include a finance and investment work package
  • Show you understand the impact that varied boundaries of local authorities, gas and electricity distribution networks, and mobile energy assets (such as vehicles) have on the national and local energy system
  • Consider the policy and regulatory conditions needed to design the local energy system
  • Consider how you will work with local authorities, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), OfGem and Code Administrators to implement your design

Your detailed design proposal should demonstrate:

  • Use of techniques and expertise from neighbouring industries, such as digital and technology, finance, entertainment or transport
  • Collaboration with other Prospering from the Energy Revolution projects to develop common standards and insights

Your design should be ready for implementation in the 2020s. On completion of the 24 month project you must provide compelling, quantified evidence that your design can:

  • Deliver bill reductions of at least 25% for the end consumer
  • Unlock substantial private investment to build and replicate the approach in the 2020s and beyond, showing that your business model proposition can attract up to 10 times more investment in energy systems technologies (compared to business as usual) once implemented
  • Create high value local jobs and UK supply chain growth
  • Reduce energy emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, tCO2e) for the locality to below Carbon Budget 5 levels, and present a feasible route towards net-zero emissions
  • Improve efficiency and productivity of the local energy system
  • Improve energy security and resilience, both short and long-term
  • Build world-leading expertise in smart energy, and develop components (products, services and skills) with high export potential

Projects must start on 1 January 2020 and end by 31 December 2021. All projects should last no longer than 24 months.

Innovate UK will consider proposals wishing to claim in excess of £3m and up to £5m in grant funding. This is if the project is of exceptional scale and ambition and you can demonstrate that extra funding will drive substantially higher leverage and value for money.

You must carry out your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from or in the UK.

Your detailed design proposal can use existing UK test facilities in academia, research and technology organisations (RTOs) or elsewhere to test important parts of your proposition. Your eligible costs can account for minor adaptations or extensions of existing facilities. This must be shown to be necessary and within the normal rules for claiming capital usage in projects.

To lead a project you must be a:

  • UK based business
  • RTO
  • Public sector organisation
  • University
  • Higher education institution
  • Catapult
  • Or a local authority or similar body

The lead organisation must claim grant through this competition. At least 2 other organisations in the consortium must also claim grant.

If an RTO or public sector organisation is the lead they must collaborate with at least 2 businesses, including at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). You must explain in your application why it is not appropriate for the project to be business-led.

Innovate UK will not fund projects that do not meet the aims of the competition, for example proposals that:

  • Do not include details of smart local energy system design, project scale, location, technical configuration, innovations adopted or details of project management
  • Do not develop a compelling business model-led approach that can attract sustainable investment in the 2020s
  • Do not identify significant economic, environmental and societal benefits at local and national scales, including improving user experience
  • Do not consider heat, transport and power
  • Focus on component product development or manufacturing support, unless clearly linked to innovative whole energy system business or regulatory models for deployment
  • Involve niche configurations, unlikely to be replicable or scalable across the UK in the 2020s
  • Are incompatible with Carbon Budget 5 or air quality targets
  • Are unlikely to make a material impact on the growth of the UK smart energy systems sector or drive inward investment and export opportunities for UK businesses

Innovate UK have allocated up to £30million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

You could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • Up to 50% if you are a large business

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.