Energy Catalyst Round 8: Clean Energy Access

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million to develop and demonstrate innovative solutions for clean, affordable and secure energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or South East Asia.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £20 million

Opens: 16th Jun 2020

Closes: 16th Sep 2020

! This scheme is now closed


The aim of this competition is to support highly innovative, market-focused energy solutions in any technology or sector.

Your project must encourage the development of products and services that help countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, South East Asia or multiple regions access secure, low cost and low carbon energy. They must be targeted at people, public services and local enterprises who are unable to afford or access existing solutions, or who lack the time or expertise to successfully use those solutions.

There are 3 options to apply into this competition. These are referred to as strands and will be run in parallel. The strands are dependent on the stage your project is at:

  1. Early stage for feasibility studies.
  2. Mid-stage for industrial research.
  3. Late stage for experimental development.


The Energy Catalyst Programme is open to any energy technology from any sector. However, to be in scope for round 8 your project must address the following 3 subjects:

  1. Energy access.
  2. The energy ‘trilemma’.
  3. Gender and social inclusion.

1. Energy access

Your project must aim to speed up access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households, enterprises and social institutions in sub-Saharan-Africa, South Asia, or South East Asia. It must do this by supporting the development, testing and/or scale up of innovative technologies and business models.

2. The energy ‘trilemma’

Your proposal must tackle all 3 areas of the energy ‘trilemma’:

  • be clean
  • be affordable
  • enable security of supply and energy access

3. Gender and social inclusion

Your application must take into account gender equality and social inclusion issues. You must demonstrate the following in your response and logic model:

  • 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 under-served market segments that existing solutions are not reaching at scale, such as rural areas, frontier markets or specific energy end-users

Innovate UK have provided a list of countries that your project must target. Click here to view the list of countries.

There are 3 strands of this competition, eligibility criteria and funding differs in each strand:

Early Stage Feasibility Projects

Your early stage project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £300,000.

Click here for more information for early stage projects.

Mid Stage for Industrial Research

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

Click here for more information for mid stage projects.

Late Stage for Experimental Development

Your late stage project’s total eligible costs must be between £50,000 and £5,000,000.

Click here for more information for late stage projects.


This competition is 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, South Asia or South East Asia
  • projects that do not address all areas of the energy ‘trilemma’: cost, emissions and security of supply
  • projects which are not Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliant
  • projects that do not take into account and plan to manage gender equality and social inclusion issues