The UK has committed to helping 3.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa access household electricity for the first time by 2021.

Innovate UK has up to £22 million to invest in innovative, market-focused energy technologies for sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, through the Energy Catalyst funding programme.

Round 7 of the Energy Catalyst will encourage the development of products and services that help poorer households and enterprises in the regions to access secure, low cost and low carbon energy.

The Energy Catalyst is run by Innovate UK (part of UK Research and Innovation) and co-funded by partners including the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It is part of the Global Challenges Research Fundand Transforming Energy Access programme.

The ‘Energy Trilemma’

Successful projects will address the World Energy Council’s ‘Energy Trilemma’:

  • cost – reducing prices to make energy accessible to everyone
  • emissions – generating cleaner energy with lower emissions to protect the environment
  • security of supply – putting reliable infrastructure in place to keep energy flowing without disruption or shortage

Funding for different project stages

The competition offers 3 strands for projects in different stages of development:

  • early stage – for feasibility studies exploring an idea’s technical potential
  • mid-stage – funds research and development
  • late stage – supports projects undertaking prototyping and pilot testing

To apply for mid-stage or late-stage funding some of the research, testing or demonstration must be carried out in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia by either a UK or international partner.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 17 June 2019
  • a briefing event will take place in London on 13 June 2019
  • the competition closes on 18 September 2019
  • early stage projects can have total costs of £50,000 and £300,000, and last up to 12 months
  • for mid stage projects, costs can be from £50,000 to £1.5 million, lasting 12 to 24 months
  • for late stage projects, costs can be £50,000 to £5 million, lasting between 12 and 36 months
  • projects must be led by a UK based business
  • projects must start by 1 April 2020 and end by 31 March 2023