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North East businesses awarded funding to develop new energy products

£100,000 of funding has been awarded to help five North East energy businesses bring new products to market.

The five SMEs all entered the Energy Innovation Challenge which was launched by the North East Energy Catalyst as a way of supporting businesses in the region to develop solutions to global energy challenges.

The five businesses awarded funding are DLAW Contractors, The Energy Workshop, Otaski Energy Solutions, Power Roll, and Solar Capture Technologies.

David Lynch, Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains: “The Energy Innovation Challenge is a rolling programme of challenges based around different themes. So in the first phase, we wanted to hear from people who could develop a product or service that can help to decarbonise the energy that we use in our homes and businesses.

The Energy Innovation Challenge is led by the North East Energy Catalyst, a partnership of the region’s leading energy sector organisations which aims to showcase the North East’s capabilities in developing solutions to the world’s energy challenges.

As well as funding, the five businesses receive business advice through the North East Growth Hub, and have already taken part in workshops on topics including marketing, business models and IP.

Sunderland-based DLAW Contractors is planning to manufacture photovoltaic-powered water filtration systems for use in rural communities. The new product has the potential to be exported worldwide, with manufacturing and supply chain based in the North East.

The Energy Workshop is a renewable energy consultancy which will use its funding to carry out a study to assess the potential of using hydrogen to fuel fleet vehicles and community energy projects in the North East.

Otaski Energy Solutions, which is based in Gateshead, put forward a proposal to develop a product which uses artificial intelligence to dim street lighting when it’s not in use.

Sunderland SME Power Roll was awarded funding to work towards manufacturing a new type of solar panel which can be used on building and vehicles.

The fifth business awarded funding is Blyth’s Solar Capture Technologies, which will be stepping up production of its lightweight SolarFace modules, which can generate energy in low light levels and in a range of locations.

“The standard of entries into the challenge was exceptional, and really shows that the North East is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to developing innovative energy products,” said David Lynch. “With the recent unveiling of the government’s 10-point plan to create a green industrial revolution, businesses in our region are at the forefront of leading the way into a greener future economy, and the North East Energy Catalyst is here to support them.”

Round two of the Energy Innovation Challenge is currently underway, with 10 submissions from North East SMEs. Round three, on the theme of energy materials, will open in January 2021. To find out more, contact David Lynch on [email protected].

The North East Energy Catalyst is supported by ERDF and the Energy Innovation Challenge received grant funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund via the North East LEP.

Home / energy innovation challenge

Investment on offer to help SMEs develop tech solutions to energy challenges

Up to £40,000 of investment is on offer to SMEs in the North East who can put forward digital or data-led solutions to help monitor and manage energy consumption.

The Energy Innovation Challenge is led by the North East Energy Catalyst, a partnership of leading energy sector organisations which aims to develop solutions to global energy challenges here in the North East.

David Lynch, Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who supports the work of the Energy Catalyst, explained: “Working with the North East Energy Catalyst is a unique opportunity for innovative SMEs given the strength and breadth of this region’s energy sector, which includes leaders in energy businesses, science and research and key infrastructure organisations.”

“We’re excited to be launching a series of energy innovation challenges throughout 2020 and 2021, inviting SMEs within the North East LEP area to submit responses to each challenge.”

A cohort of up to 10 successful businesses per challenge will be identified by an expert panel, drawing on the North East Energy Catalyst partners’ expertise. The successful cohort will receive a programme of support which will help them develop their idea and bring it to market.

This will include £20,000 of investment from Northstar Ventures, subject to eligibility criteria, which will be offered to 10 businesses across the programme, and the opportunity to submit matched grant applications for Local Growth Funding of up to a further £20k.

The next challenge is open for applications until noon on 18 September 2020 and SMEs are invited to put forward data or digital-led solutions that can help businesses to track energy consumption, or that can be used at sites like airports, ports and business parks to help manage energy savings.

David Lynch added: “This is an exciting opportunity for our colleagues in the digital, tech and energy sectors to take the lead on a new wave of energy solutions.

“The North East has a strong pedigree of innovation in power and energy generation, from steam, to electricity and now sustainable technologies, each of which has made a significant impact in the international economy. We are a force to be reckoned with in the energy sector and this is a great opportunity for digital and tech businesses to engage with partners working on the global energy stage.”

More details about the challenge are available here or from David Lynch on [email protected].

The North East Energy Catalyst is a ground-breaking partnership to unite the North East’s leading energy innovation, demonstration and delivery capabilities. Facilitated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East Energy Catalyst partners are: Newcastle University; Durham University; Northumbria University; Zero Carbon Futures (a subsidiary of Gateshead College); Northern Powergrid; Northern Gas Networks; The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult; The British Engines Group; Innovation SuperNetwork; Northumbrian Water; The North of Tyne Combined Authority; The North East Combined Authority.

   

Home / energy innovation challenge

Supporting businesses to develop new energy solutions in the North East

Earlier this year, SMEs in the North East were invited to put forward solutions to global energy challenges, as part of the Energy Innovation Challenge. David Lynch, Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), gives an update on how the programme is now helping to make the most promising ideas a reality.

When we created the Energy Innovation Challenge, we wanted to give businesses in our region an opportunity to develop new products and services that could help to tackle some of the energy-related challenges the world is facing, and to support them to bring their ideas to market.

The theme of the first challenge was decentralised and decarbonised energy and we launched it back in March – just as the country went into lockdown.

We had to act quickly to move our planned event online, and we extended the deadline so that people had more time to put together their submissions. In spite of all the disruption brought by the pandemic, we’ve been really pleased with the response from businesses, and the extremely high level of entries into the challenge.

We’ve seen real innovation in the proposals that were put forward, which have spanned a range of different product types, including innovations in photovoltaic materials, water filtration devices, and energy generation and battery storage.

We’ve been able to provide all the SMEs that put forward proposals with support and advice to develop their ideas further. The proposals have all been assessed by a panel of energy specialists through the North East Energy Catalyst, and the most viable will now be taken forward for a grant application for £20k though the government’s Local Growth Fund with some going forward to pitch for £20k of investment from Northstar Ventures.

All the successful proposals are also receiving business advice through the North East Growth Hub, and have already taken part in workshops on topics including marketing, business models and IP.

And an added benefit has been that the cohort has been able to bounce ideas off each other and work together, with some now discussing possible partnership work in the future – it’s been incredibly useful for everyone to be able to uncover knowledge and grow their businesses together.

It’s been exciting to see the strength of innovation in the North East and to play a part in helping to push these businesses forward and helping to develop innovative new energy solutions in our region.

And this isn’t the end, as we’re about to launch the next part of the Energy Innovation Challenge, which will be all about digital and data-led solutions for energy. This will be an opportunity for digital and tech businesses in the North East LEP region to apply their knowledge to the energy sector and to potentially take steps towards launching a new product.

We have a wealth of expertise and ideas within the SME sector in the North East and this is a huge opportunity for people in our region to lead the way in tackling some global issues.

The next Energy Innovation Challenge will open on 31 July. To find out more, contact David Lynch on [email protected].

The North East Energy Catalyst is supported by ERDF and the Energy Innovation Challenge received grant funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund via the North East LEP.