Energy Catalyst Round 10: Mid Stage Organisations can apply for a share of up to £10 million in total across the 3 stages, to create new or improved clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific regions. Eligibility This competition is open to collaborations only. To be eligible for funding you can be from any country and must be either a: business of any size research organisation research and technology organisation (RTO) charity non-governmental organisation (NGO) You must involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Opening soon Opens: 27 February 2023 Closes: 28 June 2023

Programme: Innovate Uk


Opens: 27 February 2023

Closes: 28 June 2023


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) to invest up to £10 million in innovation projects. This funding is part of the Ayrton Fund.

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. Creating a just and inclusive energy transition, and extending the benefits of clean energy to all to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) 7 and 13.

Your proposal must focus on:

  • improving energy access in Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions
  • having a technology or business model which is affordable, reliable and low carbon

This competition is split into 3 strands:

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

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.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total costs must be between £50,000 and £1.5 million.

Who can apply

Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £50,000 and £1.5 million
  • start on or after 1 April 2024
  • end by 31st March 2027
  • last between 6 months and 24 months
  • help deliver clean energy access in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or the Indo-Pacific
  • involve at least one partner with a legal entity in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or the Indo-Pacific region, this can include in-country offices
  • involve testing and or demonstration work in an eligible ODA country
  • 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
  • involve at least one legally separate collaborator

Your project can also involve any organisation 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 and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

If your project’s total 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 programme, an administrative lead, who will complete 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. 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 a UK registered business of any size
  • claim grant funding through this competition

A technology lead will lead on the development of the scope, work packages and any other technical work.

The technology lead:

  • can be a business of any size
  • can be from anywhere in the world
  • must claim grant funding through this competition

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


Up to £10 million has been allocated in total across the 3 stages to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

The total funding available for this competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the funding allocations between the three competition stages
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

If your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

For industrial research projects you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

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