Venturefest West Midlands: Transforming the energy landscape

By Alan Carr, Policy and Partnerships Manager (Low Carbon) at Birmingham Science City

Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) gave one of the most highly anticipated presentations for the SMEs attending Venturefest West Midlands. The talk was presented by Tony Diciccio and Phil Lawton of the ESC, along with Gavin Shone from the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC).

ESC is one of a national network of elite technology and innovation centres (Catapult Centres) set up by Innovate UK, based in central Birmingham.

It aims to stimulate innovation in UK industry and bridge the gap between businesses, research and government, to accelerate the development of new technology-based products and services in the energy sector.

The vision of the ESC, launched in April 2015, is to have a clean, intelligent energy system that unleashes the potential of this industry. This opportunity is realised through looking at the entire energy sector – from the generators, to the distributors, to us, the users.

Current infrastructure is becoming outdated as new technologies come to the fore, with the growth of electrification, decarbonisation, and digitalisation. The new technologies could lead to a potential £46 billion positive impact on UK GDP when the energy sector is transformed.

Furthermore, the increase in efficiency could achieve a saving of £27 billion. ESC does big things to meet these challenges across six different programmes, including its Future Power Systems Architecture and Smart Systems and Heat initiatives.

For SMEs, ESC offers a support scheme covering three basic principles: universal assistance, collaborative working, and commercial support. This can help SMEs to innovate in energy systems whilst saving money along the way.

Working with the EIC, ESC provides a list of rolling challenges to problems that SMEs can help to solve. Much of this is achieved through its dedicated EICHub – a digital platform that both the energy industry and SMEs can access. The industry can upload its problem and an SME can indicate that they have a solution to that problem in one click.

It is great to observe that the ESC, working in partnership with the EIC, is ensuring that the massive potential to innovate the energy industry is being made possible at grassroots level.

The ESC is also an active member of the Birmingham Science City-run Innovative Low Carbon Working Group (ILCWG) and recently hosted and presented at the latest ILCWG meeting on 21 September 2017 at its Birmingham headquarters. Many of the above initiatives were shared amongst ILCWG members.