A new Energy ‘Catalyst’ fund to support innovative UK companies to develop their early stage innovations into commercial successes has been launched today (Thursday) with news of an initial £25m round of funding.

The Catalyst will help transform UK energy technology and will help innovative businesses to take advantage of the huge emerging global markets by developing world-leading solutions. It is funded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, The Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The Energy Catalyst is the latest in a range of sector-specific Catalysts and will fund projects from early concept stage through to pre-commercial technology validation. These projects can be based upon innovation that incorporates:

  • New technologies
  • Enhancement of existing technologies
  • Components, sub-systems or systems
  • Integrated whole system approaches
  • Enabling technologies for the energy system

Open to any UK business, academic or research organisation, the Energy Catalyst will fund the best concepts and innovative technologies, regardless of source. Although projects will be mostly business-led, academics may lead early stage projects in collaboration with businesses.

Business and Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, said:

“Britain has historically been home to some of the world’s greatest innovations and this fund will help to continue that trend in the energy sector which has real potential to create growth and jobs.

“Catalysts such as this form an important delivery tool under our industrial strategy, which is giving business the confidence to invest — securing high skilled jobs and a stronger economy.”

CEO of the Technology Strategy Board, Iain Gray said,
“The Energy Catalyst will support those early stage innovations with the potential to meet the challenge of providing affordable, secure and low carbon energy.

“We’re particularly pleased to be building upon the successful catalyst model we and our partners have implemented with such success through the Biomedical and AgriTech Catalyst programmes and look forward to continuing our work to support innovative UK companies working in the energy sector.”

Energy Lawyer, Steven Beharell welcomed the news, but said more needs to be done.

He said: “Anything that encourages innovation in energy is very welcome. But £25m is a drop in the ocean of what’s needed to make the UK a real leader in the sector.”

By Daniel Hunter