The next phase of a pilot to build on local innovation strengths is now open for applications, with a share of £3million of investment available to support local businesses.
Phase one of Innovate UK’s Launchpad pilot kicked off in September last year. Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency – and part of UK Research and Innovation.
It invited small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to apply for competitive grants starting at £25,000 for innovation projects that focus on the region’s energy and renewable sector.
Following the success of its initial round, more businesses active or growing in the area’s net zero innovation cluster looking to deliver outstanding projects in the sector are being urged to apply for funding of up to £1million.
A briefing webinar for local stakeholders is set to take place on 22 February outlining more details of the competition.
A string of local businesses secured funding in the first competition – with more than £5million given in grant funding and almost £1.9million of match funding provided.
One successful firm is Hartlepool-based renewable hydrogen firm Catalsys, who have developed a unique ammonia cracking technology.
Their breakthrough has the potential to contribute towards net zero in two ways: Firstly, it could significantly increase the adoption of green hydrogen by making it possible to produce it on-site from low-cost renewables anywhere in the world; And secondly, it could be used to provide grid-independent low-cost green electrical power.
Catalsys CEO Kevin Fothergill said: “We are excited the Tees Valley Net Zero Innovation team shares our vision and sees the potential of our technology.
“The grant funding we received means we can ramp up our prototype development – and is opening doors to partners who could help us bring the technology to wide adoption and unlock the potential of green hydrogen.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Whether it’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage, hydrogen, offshore wind or sustainable aviation fuel, Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is leading the way in the safer, cleaner and healthier industries of tomorrow.
“While we’ve welcomed a lot of great news from big, global businesses investing in our region, the expertise and know-how of our SMEs is just as important if we’re truly going to mark ourselves out as a net zero, low carbon powerhouse. These are the innovators and job creators on the ground right now, who know our sector and its possibilities the best.
“This is a great opportunity for them to get the funding they need to help drive the forward-thinking products, processes and projects which are vital to strengthening our net zero offer, attracting more companies here and boosting the ones that we have, ultimately creating more well-paid, good-quality jobs.”
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation. We’re pleased to work with the Tees Valley team through the Innovate UK launchpad programme and our other partnership activities to help innovative businesses contribute to a stronger region.”
The second competition is open now, and closes to applications on 29 March.
For more information or to apply, visit https://tinyurl.com/kbfm5u9p. To register for the briefing webinar, visit Webinar Registration – Zoom.