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  • Writer's pictureDamon Butcher

Energy Catalyst Round 9 – Early Stage



Organisations can apply for a share of up to £20 million to create new or improved clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific regions.

Open date: 18/05/2022

Close date: 10/08/2022

Max Funding: £210,000

Match Funding: 30%

Collaboration: Collaborative or single

Funding Type: Grant

Fund Provider(s): Innovate UK

Industries: Energy, net zero


Description Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the Ayrton Fund to invest up to £20 million in innovation projects.

The aim of this competition is to accelerate the innovations needed to create new or improved clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or Indo-Pacific regions. This will create a just and inclusive energy transition and extend the benefits of clean energy to all to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) 7 'Affordable and clean energy' and 13 'Climate action'.

Your proposal must focus on:

  1. improving energy access in official development assistance (ODA) eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions

  2. have a technology or business model which is affordable, reliable and low carbon

  3. consider the role of gender equality and social inclusion (GESI)

This competition is split into 3 strands:

  • Energy Catalyst Round 9 – Early Stage (this strand)

  • Energy Catalyst Round 9 – Mid Stage

  • Energy Catalyst Round 9 – Late Stage

Innovate UK runs many different competitions, and each will have different eligibility and scope requirements. The guidance in this competition brief will always supersede any other guidance. If you are unsure or have any questions, please contact our Customer Support Service who will assist you further.

Your project’s total costs must be between £50,000 and £300,000.

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £50,000 and £300,000

  • start by 1 April 2023

  • end by 31 March 2026

  • last between 3 months and 12 months

  • intend to use the results to help deliver clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or the Indo-Pacific

  • include a UK registered administrative lead

  • if you are an international organisation, partner with a UK administrative lead

  • involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) from anywhere in the world

Your project can also involve organisations from any country.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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

If your total project’s costs or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

Lead organisation

There are two types of leads in energy catalyst, an administrative lead, who will start the application and a technology lead.

An administrative lead is there to act as the recipient of the award and will distribute funding to all other partners. This is known as a ‘hub and spoke’ model when there is an international partner in the consortium. The administrative lead will manage and be accountable for the finances of the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award.

The administrative lead must:

  • be registered in the UK

  • claim grant funding through this competition

A technology lead will lead on the development of the scope, work packages within the project and other work from a technical perspective.

The technology lead:

  • can be from anywhere in the world

  • must claim grant funding through this competition

  • can be an SME, RTO or academic institution

UK registered organisations can be both the administrative and technical lead if the criteria is met for both types of leads.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following:

  • business of any size

  • academic institution

  • charity

  • not for profit

  • non-governmental organisation (NGO)

  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

We strongly encourage the inclusion of international partners (business or other), where relevant to the project.

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the world and you must select them through your usual procurement process. All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

All eligible organisations can lead or collaborate on any number of applications.


Inovasi helps companies to innovate with innovation incentives: R&D, Tax Credits, The Patent Box Scheme, and Funding. Inovasi aims to save you time, so you can focus on the core of your business, we offer expert advice, you can rest easy knowing your claim has been strictly adhered to HMRC legislation, reducing the chance of an inquiry, maximise all aspects of your innovation process, experienced, up to date on the latest guidance and changes related to grants.


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