Energy Catalyst Round 7 – Mid Stage

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £22 million across 3 strands to help provide clean, affordable and secure energy in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or both. This is the mid-stage strand.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £22 million

Opens: 17th Jun 2019

Closes: 18th Sep 2019

! This scheme is now closed


The aim of the competition is to support highly innovative, market-focused energy solutions in any technology or sector or international market. Focusing on the needs of poor households, businesses and services in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, projects must be targeted at people who are unable to afford or access existing solutions, or who lack the time or expertise to successfully use those solutions.


The Energy Catalyst is open to any energy technology from any sector. However, to be in scope for round 7 your project must address the following energy ‘trilemma’ areas:

  • cost
  • emissions
  • security of supply and energy access

Your project must aim to speed up access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households and enterprises in Sub-Saharan-Africa or South Asia. It must do this by supporting the development, testing and/or scale up of innovative technologies and business models. It is open to both on-grid and off-grid solutions but will be aimed at delivering Global Goal 7: ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Your application must take into account gender equality and social inclusion issues. You must:

  • identify the main beneficiaries
  • describe how you will mitigate any negative effects
  • provide a plan of how to address both gender and social inclusion during the life of your project
  • explain how your project will encourage equality

Your project could focus on, for example:

  • making new solutions more affordable
  • integrating technologies in new systems or business models to help unlock finance and deployment
  • developing technologies or partnership business models that address other barriers to deployment, such as skills required to develop or maintain technologies
  • unlocking underserved market segments that existing solutions are not reaching at scale, such as rural areas, frontier markets or specific energy end-users

Your project:

  • must intend to use the results to help deliver clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or both
  • must involve at least one partner with a legal entity in of the focus countries in Africa and South Asia, this could include in country offices
  • must include a UK-based administrative lead
  • must involve at least one SME, from anywhere in the world

To view the list of eligible countries in Sub-Sarahan Africa and South Asia – please click here.


The administrative lead:

  • must be UK based
  • will be the recipient of the award and will distribute funding to international partners (hub and spoke model)
  • UK business (of any size)
  • will manage and be accountable for the finances of the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award
  • must claim funding through this competition

The technical lead:

  • can be from anywhere in the world
  • will lead on the development of the scope, work packages within the project and other work from a technical perspective
  • can be a business (of any size)
  • must claim funding through this competition

UK-based businesses of any size can be both the administrative and technical lead.

Funding Costs

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £1.5 million.

Project’s must start by 1 April 2020 and end by 31 March 2022. It can last between 12 and 24 months.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

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

You must work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector).

Your project must involve some research and development, testing or demonstration work in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia. This can be done by either a UK or international partner.

The lead organisation must claim funding through this competition. If the project is collaborative, at least one other organisation in the consortium must also claim funding. This can also be the administrative lead if they are involved in the technology development.


Innovate UK are not funding:

  • innovations unlikely to contribute significantly to energy affordability, security and reduced carbon emissions
  • innovations that do not improve energy access in either Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia
  • projects that do not address all areas of the energy ‘trilemma’: cost, emissions and security of supply
  • projects that do not take into account and plan to manage gender equality and social inclusion issues