North East Energy Catalyst

A ground-breaking partnership to unite the North East’s leading energy innovation, demonstration and delivery capabilities.

Scroll down to read details of the Energy Innovation Challenge Programme


What is the North East Energy Catalyst?

The North East is home to a unique and comprehensive asset base for innovating, demonstrating and delivering solutions to global energy challenges. It also hosts a highly innovative industry base, at the cutting edge of developing and commercialising these solutions, and already supplying into the sector.

Facilitated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), partners including industry, the public sector, universities, institutions and government bodies are working together to unite this range of opportunities and to:

  • Tackle major energy challenges and deliver on national policy
  • Drive new economic growth opportunities
  • Accelerate regional decarbonisation
  • Invite and co-ordinate engagement with partners


To catalyse an integrated energy system, which grows a productive, clean economy for prosperous communities.


To develop and showcase solutions to global energy challenges via innovation, demonstration and delivery.

Energy Innovation Challenge

Theme: innovation in energy materials

In this challenge round we are focusing on materials used in any aspect of our electricity, gas and water infrastructure. This may include pipes, valves, cables and any other component part of our energy system. Whilst entries in line with the overarching theme (energy materials) are acceptable, we are particularly interested in the following areas:

  • Innovative materials used in generation and storage of energy. This may include composites,
    substrates, metals, polymers and coatings.
  • Application of materials to improve performance, resilience and/or security of energy infrastructure. This may include corrosion resistance, density, fracture toughness, hardness and theft deterrents.
  • Materials, techniques and solutions which lead to a reduction in cost and/or raw materials required to package, transport, install, maintain and recycle existing energy infrastructure.

Download an application form here. Please note: the deadline for applications has been extended to Friday 26 February. 

Read our guidance for applicants here.

North East Energy Catalyst partners


What our North East Energy Catalyst partners say:

“We are delighted to be a founding partner of the North East Energy Catalyst, an initiative which builds on our region’s position at the heart of the UK’s energy industry. The region has a unique and comprehensive asset base for innovating, demonstrating and delivering solutions to global energy challenges working both onshore and offshore. We also host a highly innovative business base at the cutting edge of developing and commercialising these solutions, presenting significant growth potential and new economic opportunities for places across our region. The North East Energy Catalyst brings these assets together in this exciting new partnership to showcase our critical role in this global agenda.” Andrew Clark, North East LEP Energy Programme Lead.

As an industry partner in many global energy projects from within our eight businesses, all based in the North East, we understand the challenges that face the energy sector, and consequently its supply chain. We are pleased to be contributing to this cross-boundary partnership, which showcases the knowledge, skills and experience the region has to offer our future energy requirements.” Emma Greenwood, Director, British Engines

We are thrilled to have been asked to be part of what promises to be a ground-breaking way of working for the North East energy sector. By bringing such a strong panel of experts in this field together, we can facilitate debate, challenge major energy issues and drive forward innovation in this sector. As a result of support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) we are looking forward to investing in the future of the Catalyst, ensuring that we collaborate with industry leaders and businesses who set the energy agenda for the region.” Peter Riddell, Partnerships Director for Innovation SuperNetwork.

We all know there are global needs for cleaner and more affordable energy. These are challenges for everyone and to rise and meet them we must bring together science and research, business and technology, and the public sector. By working together, we create this catalyst for innovation, can see that there’s implementation and help put our region at the front of this growing and crucial sector.” Mark Jackson, Assistant Director of Infrastructure, Planning and Transportation, Sunderland City Council

I am delighted that Newcastle University is part of this great regional initiative, there is a huge amount of talent, infrastructure and expertise in the academic, governmental and industrial sectors in the North East. The Catalyst will enable us to come together to ensure that the region is at the forefront of our pursuit of a net zero energy system.” Phil Taylor, Newcastle University.

The next 30 years will see a change in how every person in the UK uses or even generates their own energy. The challenge is to make the transition smoothly, and position the assets of the North East to put the region in the centre for technology, research and skills, and that coordinating role is the catalyst.” Dr Colin Herron CBE, MD, Zero Carbon Futures.

Our demand for electricity will increase significantly over the next 20 years and part of this will be driven by new distributed energy applications in healthcare, transportation and consumer electronics. In addition to reducing emissions, it’s essential that we discover new materials and devices to meet this demand sustainably. Northumbria University is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking partnership, to work with cross sector partners and bring our expertise in this field to the fore.” Neil Beattie, Associate Professor, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Northumbria University.

“Driving energy innovation is an essential part of our commitments to achieving carbon neutrality by 2027. At Northumbrian Water we are firmly committed to supporting new and innovative energy projects – we are already the only UK water company to use 100% of our sewage sludge to produce green power, and have an agreement in place to power all 1,858 of our sites with renewable energy for the next four years. The North East Energy Catalyst represents a great opportunity for the region to work together to deliver real opportunities, and we are excited to be involved,” Graham Southall, Northumbrian Water

I am proud that Durham University’s Durham Energy Institute will be a big contributor to this partnership, bringing innovative and exciting energy research to the fore, including our work on how water from abandoned coal mines could be used as a cleaner source of heat.

“Enterprise, entrepreneurship and technological innovation are at the heart of our region and the North East Energy Catalyst will provide national leadership in low-carbon, sustainable energy for the future.” Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Durham University

“We are excited to be part of the North East Energy Catalyst initiative. The collective strength of our region’s energy sector – with world-leading assets, industry and intellect – gives us a fantastic opportunity to accelerate clean growth locally, as well as attract major inward investment.” Tony Quinn, Test and Validation Director, ORE Catapult.

The UK energy sector is entering a time of enormous change and huge potential, requiring new approaches to tackle the different challenges we face.

“The Catalyst will bring the region’s industry, academia and local authorities together with innovation leaders, to boost job creation and drive new solutions which not only tackle decarbonisation in the North East, but fulfill national policy requirements as well.” Keith Owen, Head of Systems Development and Energy Strategy at Northern Gas Networks

Low carbon energy has to be the North of Tyne’s future – there’s a climate crisis, and we’re fully committed to a prosperous, low-carbon future. We’ve got the expertise here in the North of Tyne, and we’ve got some world-class assets. Sustainable economic prosperity depends on collaborative working, and we’re right behind this partnership.” North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll.

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Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about the North East Energy Catalyst partnership, get in touch:

David LynchDavid Lynch

Energy Innovation Partnership Manager

North East Local Enterprise Partnership

+44 07584 154506  [email protected]