SBRI: Net Zero heat and power upgrades for demand reduction phase 1

Key Features

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million to develop data driven approaches for upgrading portfolios of buildings.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £5 million

Opens: 28th Nov 2022

Closes: 11th Jan 2023

! This scheme is now closed


This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Innovate UK, which will invest up to £5 million over two phases.


The aim of the competition is to accelerate the shift to a net zero economy, by developing and testing scalable commercial service propositions. These must reduce bills and carbon emissions from buildings with the intention of commercialising the results beyond phase 2 of the competition. Your project must take a data driven approach to assessing and defining appropriate pathways for:

  • the upgrading of building portfolios
  • targeting decarbonisation
  • energy demand reduction
  • market demand certainty
  • heat efficiency

In phase 1 you must undertake a feasibility study and produce a feasibility report that outlines:

  • how you anticipate your proposed approach will work
  • how your proposed approach will be scalable and replicable across the UK building stock
  • how your proposed approach will be inclusive and sensitive to the diversities and vulnerabilities of occupants and building users
  • which organisations you will partner with in phase 2, with access to a portfolio of buildings to demonstrate your proposed approach
  • how you will gain access to local install supply chains in Phase 2
  • how you will adopt a data-driven approach that enables the organisation of information so that it is structured, interoperable and supports process improvement
  • how you will build upon Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), Reduced Data SAP (RdSAP) and PAS2035 processes with the goal of better decision making to benefit customers and consumers
  • how you will commercialise your proposed approach, including how your proposition will be investable, with an onward investment plan
  • how you will access additional investment in building upgrades to build on your phase 2 funding, for example, the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund
  • a demonstrable organisational approach to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion within all participant organisations, including career development and employment opportunities
  • a focus on supporting a just transition to net zero, including innovation design that considers diversity, vulnerability and inclusion

Your project must:

  • have approaches that unlock private investment in building upgrades
  • have solutions that take an archetypal or typology based approach
  • have approaches that enable a just and equitable transition, particularly where they enable access to products and services for low income households
  • use evidence based design to optimise for the best outcomes or benefits throughout the whole building
  • help people to reduce and optimise their demands, to reduce their outgoings
  • give people more control over their comfort and automation of simple tasks
  • allow people generate and use their own energy, to reduce their imports of energy from the networks and ease potential constraints
  • remove barriers to accessing services that reward positive behaviours, including flexibility or agile tariffs
  • tailor solutions to work for everyone by design, irrespective of their needs or vulnerabilities

At this stage contracts will be given to successful applicants for phase 1 only.

Successful projects from phase 1 will be invited to a separate phase 2 competition. Your phase 2 application must show how you will engage, develop and test in a representative environment, according to the strategies outlined in your phase 1 project.

Your phase 2 project must:

  • include approaches to assessing, specifying, costing and delivering integrated refurbishment and energy reduction measures to upgrade buildings within your portfolio
  • provide a choice of potential upgrades for each building within your portfolio, based upon data on the current state of the buildings
  • consider whole building upgrade options, including building fabric, heat, power, storage, mobility and user needs
  • provide data on the impact of upgrade options on installation costs, carbon emissions, energy demand, operating costs and other co-benefits, for example: indoor air quality, overheating risks, security of supply, access to new products and services
  • provide pathways to reach a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C as a minimum, with higher EPC targets desirable to ensure a successful contribution to net zero aims
  • include approaches to proactively engage users, occupiers or residents of buildings during design, specification and construction, including those with vulnerabilities or protected characteristics
  • include approaches to monitoring and evaluating the realised performance of upgrades to inform onward investment plans
  • be relevant to domestic, public or commercial buildings (industrial buildings and industrial clusters are outside of the scope of this funding)
  • utilise existing open-source information so that building and upgrade measures can be consistently categorised and shared

This will involve:

  • developing the proposed approach
  • working with their partner building portfolio owners, including local authorities, charities, housing associations or registered social landlords
  • delivery of building upgrade measures on real-world buildings
  • working with tenants and building occupiers on appropriateness of solutions
  • working with relevant supply chains to install measures
  • testing of the data driven solution that suggests building upgrade measures on real-world buildings
  • adopting a data standardisation approach to support interoperability

This will also involve, delivering monitoring and evaluation of solutions to:

  • provide evidence for future building upgrade investment decisions
  • assure comfort and usability of the solutions
  • inform and improve future development of the data driven solution

All phase 2 projects awarded contracts, will be given further guidance on how to adopt such approaches.

Research categories

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

In phase 1 the supplier will work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution concept. The outcome of phase 2 will be a demonstrated prototype of the solution.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real-life operating conditions.

The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set and demonstrate their ability to address sector needs.


Projects must:

  • have total costs of up to £22,000, inclusive of VAT
  • start by 1 April 2023
  • end by 30 June 2023
  • last up to 3 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be scalable or replicable across the nations of the UK


To lead a project, you must:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • work alone or with others from business, research organisations, research and technology organisations or the third sector as subcontractors
  • be responsible for, or work with organisations that have, access to a portfolio of buildings for demonstrations in your phase 2 project

You can work with businesses, local authorities, charities, housing associations or registered social landlords.

The term Local Authority includes:

  • county councils
  • district councils
  • unitary authorities
  • metropolitan districts
  • London boroughs

Regional collaborations coordinated through bodies such as Combined Authorities are also eligible.

We particularly welcome collaborative applications between multiple authorities, where one approach can be demonstrated in diverse contexts.

This competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

Contracts will be awarded to a single legal entity only. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can engage specialists or advisers.

This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.


Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • focus on highly bespoke designs for a single building or customer
  • focus on industrial buildings
  • encourage incremental near-term retrofits, rather than substantive upgrade pathways
  • use proprietary monitoring standards or closed ecosystems that lock users into a specific technology solution
  • only address the needs of early adopter households
  • do not demonstrate significant support and engagement from potential future customers throughout the project
  • do not address how any potentially negative outcomes (such as on the environment or society) would be managed
  • do not evidence the potential for their proposed innovation to generate positive economic or societal impact
  • would directly duplicate other UK government or EU funded initiatives you have already been funded to deliver
  • are covered by existing commercial agreements to deliver the proposed solutions
  • include hydrogen for heating

Funding Costs

Innovate UK, will invest up to £5 million over the two phases of this competition.

A total of up to £450,000 inclusive of VAT, is allocated to phase 1.

Phase 1 feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £22,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 20 projects.

A further £4.55 million is allocated to phase 2.

Phase 2 involves up to 5 contracts being awarded to organisations chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £1.5 million inclusive of VAT can be allocated for each contract, to develop a prototype and undertake real world testing for up to 18 months.

The total funding available for the competition can change.

You must select whether you are VAT registered before entering your project costs.

If you select you are VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT.

If you select you are not VAT registered, you must enter your project costs exclusive of VAT and no VAT will be added.

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design. R&D can also include prototyping and field-testing the product or service. This lets you incorporate the results of your exploration and design and demonstrate that you can produce in quantity to acceptable quality standards.

R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs

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.