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Awards 2024

Strategic Innovation Fund announces new round four challenges

Ofgem and Innovate UK launch the fourth round of the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) with the announcement of priority challenges.

The round four challenges provide a focus for participating innovators and networks to develop new products, processes or services that will:

  • save consumers money
  • benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions
  • improve access to renewable energy for all

The priority challenges

Faster network development

Challenge areas in scope include:

  • novel methods to increase electrical capacity from existing assets or support faster and more efficient connection methods including using digital innovations
  • regional balancing approaches to accelerate low carbon technology deployment

This includes leveraging digital advancements such as artificial intelligence to better manage power flows and supporting more real time and dynamic operation of the system.

And, delivering replicable regional energy system models to support networks and wider system in supply-demand balancing.

Greater heat flexibility

Challenge areas in scope include:

  • flexibility solutions to reduce peak electricity demand from heat decarbonisation

This includes technologies and supporting commercial and market models to help decouple electricity consumption from the grid and heat supplied to consumers during periods of system stress.

Embedding resilience

Challenge areas in scope include:

  • cross vector approaches to decarbonise rural communities in a resilient manner
  • transition planning for an energy system with reducing natural gas demand

This includes developing novel and replicable approaches to support rural decarbonisation in a timely, resilient and cost-effective manner.

And approaches to better determine risk and opportunities from a gas infrastructure perspective, under a future with falling gas demand, and considering options that best deliver consumer value, system security and support net zero goals..

Towards net zero energy networks

Challenge areas in scope include:

  • innovation to improve efficiency of network operations

This includes developing solutions to reduce losses and creating improved evidence on reducing efficiency loss in the context of greater network utilisation and deployment of low carbon technologies.

Get involved

We invite innovators to complete an expression of interest form for round four.

The form also gives the opportunity to outline ideas to tackle the announced challenges.

The expression of interest stage will give Innovate UK an opportunity to engage innovators in developing ideas before submission into the round four call for ideas.

Round four call for ideas opens on Innovate UK’s Innovation Funding Service portal on 1 May 2024.

Pitch your ideas

Successful innovators will have an opportunity to pitch their idea to the energy networks.

Networks will then invite the most suitable pitches to partner with them to develop their ideas further.

The aim is for project partners, led by the networks, to apply to discovery round four opening in September 2024.

To find out more about the round four challenges and how to apply to the fund, attend the round four challenges launch webinar on 15 March 2024.

Delivering a decarbonised energy system

Marzia Zafar, Ofgem Deputy Director Strategy, Energy Systems Management and Security said:

This year’s SIF challenges focus on some of the biggest challenges that we need innovators and networks to work on together to deliver a decarbonised energy system.

If we can address these, we will have moved the needle further forward on delivering on our net zero goals.

We are already seeing amazing projects come through the first three rounds of SIF, and we’re excited to see the projects that get funded within SIF Round 4.

Stimulating brilliant ideas

Jodie Giles, Director Ofgem SIF, Innovate UK said:

We’re excited to launch our challenges for the fourth round of the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund.

These have been developed in collaboration with energy sector experts and Ofgem’s senior team.

This is to ensure that in fast a changing energy system, we are focussing on the most critical challenges that address climate change and keep energy bills as low as possible.

The challenges are designed to stimulate the most brilliant ideas and best collaborations between innovators and networks, resulting in projects that can be delivered at pace and scaled quickly, to achieve a net zero electricity system by 2035 and help people, the planet, and business.

Full Story: Strategic Innovation Fund announces new round four challenges – UKRI