Ofgem Round 4: Call for Ideas

Key Features

This Call for Ideas is delivered in partnership with Ofgem. Future funding may be available from the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund. The fund aims to deliver net zero at lowest cost to consumers and support innovative businesses to grow and scale.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £450 million

Opens: 1st May 2024

Closes: 5th Jun 2024

! This scheme is closing soon

Overview

This Call for Ideas forms part of a programme delivered with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) in partnership with Innovate UK. This alignment enhances the programme’s ability to contribute to Government’s net zero objectives, while allowing it to remain dynamic, flexible and joined up with Government, industry and consumers.

Ideas submitted to Innovate UK and shared to the Energy Networks, may advance through to develop a project proposal led by an Energy Network. This proposal may be offered the opportunity to seek funding from the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

Scope

The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) aims to deliver net zero at lowest cost to consumers and support innovative businesses to grow and scale.

This includes decarbonising gas and electric energy distribution, transmission networks and benefit to the consumer. Your SIF project must help shape the future of the gas and electricity networks and succeed commercially where possible.

SIF funded projects must aim to reduce costs for consumers and carbon emissions, while improving access to revenues and markets. This will also incentivise the creation of new products, processes and services, linking into the themes for each challenge.

The Challenges for SIF Round 4 are:

  • Challenge 1: Faster network development
  • Challenge 2: Greater heat flexibility
  • Challenge 3: Embedding resilience
  • Challenge 4: Accelerating towards net zero energy networks

This Call for Ideas is open to proposals for any social, regulatory, market, legal or technical innovation that aligns with the challenges and related themes identified and is within the remit of the Energy Networks. Your proposal can be related to a product, process or service.

Portfolio approach

The Energy Networks will decide which proposals they want to take forward for pitching and then again post pitching for further engagement. They may take a portfolio approach to explore a variety of projects across different technologies, markets, technological maturities and research categories, which will inform future partnerships.

Specific Themes

Within each challenge there are specific themes. Your proposal must meet one of these themes for your selected challenge.

Challenge 1 themes:

  • novel methods to increase capacity from existing assets or support faster and efficient connection methods including using digital innovations
  • regional balancing approaches to accelerate low carbon technology deployment

Challenge 2 themes:

  • flexibility solutions to reduce peak demand from heat decarbonisation

Challenge 3 themes:

  • cross vector approaches to decarbonise rural communities in a resilient manner
  • transition planning for an energy system with reducing natural gas demand

Challenge 4 themes:

  • innovation to improve efficiency of network operations

Eligibility

Your submitted proposal must:

  • intend to carry out its project work in Great Britain (England, Scotland or Wales)
  • intend to exploit the results from or in Great Britain
  • outline network customer benefits
  • include a unique selling proposition
  • detail the Networks you wish to be involved with
  • highlight which Round 4 challenge and theme your idea addresses

There is no funding offered at this Call for Ideas phase.

The future funded opportunities for SIF Round 4 have different phases:

  1. Discovery Phase: projects must last up to three months and have a total requested funding of no more than £150,000, exclusive of VAT.
  2. Alpha Phase: projects must last up to six months and have a total requested funding of no more than £500,000, exclusive of VAT.
  3. Beta Phase: projects must last up to five years and have a total requested funding of no more than £10 million, exclusive of VAT, total costs and funding requests of more than this may be considered on a case by case basis.

A minimum of 10% compulsory contribution is also expected at each stage.

Due to current Government trade restrictions, any commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as partner or subcontractor must be scrutinised in detail by Ofgem ahead of their funding decisions. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Any applications that are viewed as involving Russian or Belarusian entities, goods or services, which includes parent companies, may be at risk of funding approval and additional delays. Where potential concerns are identified the lead Energy Network applicants will need to work with the relevant Government bodies to ensure the ongoing protection of critical national infrastructure.

This Call for Ideas is open to sole innovators and to organisations of all types and sizes. This includes UK registered businesses of any size, research organisations, and research and technology organisations.

To secure future funding from SIF, you will be required to partner with an Energy Network who will lead an application into one of the SIF challenge competitions.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can submit proposals which have been submitted into previous rounds of the SIF funding opportunities where you can show it meets the challenges for Round 4.

To avoid duplication, you must not submit proposals which have already been shared directly with the Energy Networks, through the Energy Network Association’s (ENA) Smarter Networks portal.

Exclusions

This programme will not fund projects that do not meet the Eligibility Criteria outlined in the SIF Governance document.

Funding Costs

A total of up to £450 million exclusive of VAT is allocated to the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) until 2026.

This opportunity is a Call for Ideas and does not guarantee a proposal will be taken forward. There is no funding available for this Call for Ideas.

The total funding available for the funded phases of the SIF competitions can change. Ofgem has the right to:

  • adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach based on technology, geography, innovation, markets, and participants

The Energy Networks reserve the right to make the final decisions as to which proposals are taken forward to apply for funding in the SIF competitions.

For the funded phases of the SIF competitions, Ofgem reserve the right to make the final decision as to which projects are funded.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.