What we do
for SMES & Innovators

The energy and water sectors need innovators and SMEs with novel technologies and ideas that can help it to respond to the challenges of our energy future.

Our gas, electricity and water industry partners are large and complex businesses that focus on optimisation, efficiencies and operational excellence. This can mean that their strategic drivers do not always align with those of external partners – and SMEs in particular – that can help them to accelerate innovation within their businesses.

The EIC’s collaborative model bridges the gap between an industry with a clear innovation ambition and over 2,000 SMEs and innovators with the technologies that can help develop this ambition into a reality.

We deliver value to our growing innovation community by providing a dedicated route from which they can attract and engage industry backing for their innovations, and supporting their journey towards commercialisation.

The EIC works closely with SMEs and innovators to:

  • overcome barriers to entry such as funding and access to new markets;
  • create shared projects with energy network operators and water companies that have the potential to benefit customers, the supply chain and UK Plc;
  • ensure they have visibility and clarity of industry needs and
  • develop a strong and tested commercial proposition for their innovation.

What you can expect from us

1. Tell us about your innovation

Proactive – synopsis development

One of our innovation engineers will work closely with you to develop a clear and concise synopsis document to ensure the best chance for stakeholder engagement.

This synopsis document must include:

  • An executive summary of the proposed innovation (50 words)
  • A short background to the company / innovation (50 words)
  • An overview of the perceived innovation need / problem (100 words)
  • Details of the proposed solution (200 words)
  • An explanation of why the proposed solution is better than existing solutions on the market (100 words)
  • An indication of current development status
  • A high level outline of the proposed project
  • Details of any funding requirements
  • Specific outputs from the project (100 words)


Reactive – calls for innovation

A call for innovation relates to a specific problem which has been identified by one or more of our industry partners. If we publish a call for innovation that is relevant to you, the process for engagement is as specified on the call documentation.

Following this call we will distribute the relevant expression of interest form which asks for:

  • Company background
  • Company skill sets
  • Proposed solution to the call for innovation
  • Proposed project outline (high level)
  • Estimated current TRL level
  • Estimated unit costs
  • Estimated project costs

2. Project plan stage

Following approval from stakeholders, your dedicated EIC innovation engineer from the synopsis stage or the lead EIC engineer behind the call for innovation will engage with you to design and develop a project plan. Our commercial experts will ensure all the criteria for innovation funding can be matched with your proposal to help you build the strongest investment case.

The information required for the EIC project plan expands on the information supplied in the synopsis and includes details of:

  • Method of how the innovation would be developed
  • Specific project objectives
  • Defined outputs from the project
  • Detailed work programme
  • Project timing/ Gantt chart
  • Financial summary of project costs
  • Capital and equipment needed for the project
  • Any dependencies, assumptions and known risks
  • Project management team
  • Success criteria
  • Potential for new learning
  • Translation into a network benefit
  • Price point and commercial route
  • Background Intellectual Property

3. Legal agreements

Upon investment approval by our industry partners or stakeholders, our legal teams will draft the Direct Investment Agreement (DIA). This legal document is a collaboration agreement between SME, EIC and stakeholders which is circulated with the agreed project plan to all parties involved. Following signature by all parties, a final signed document is circulated and the project is now ready to commence.

4. Live project

At this point in the process, the project is handed over to the dedicated EIC project manager listed within the project plan. The project manager is responsible for managing the following activity throughout the project lifecycle:

  • Organisation of ‘kick-off’ meetings, steering group meetings and end of stage meetings
  • Review and distribute reports
  • Project monitoring against budget and timescale
  • Communication between SMEs and the Stakeholders
  • Management of project funds
  • Facilitate the resolution of project problems or issues


Access to finance is a challenge for innovators everywhere. Some of today’s most successful global businesses struggled to secure finance in the early days and as a rule, the more game-changing and disruptive the idea, the greater the struggle.

To date, the EIC has helped innovators in the energy sector unlock over £12.5 million of investment. If you have a novel technology or idea with potential then using our industry insight and strategic networks, we can help you to access funding from a number of sources:

Gas and electricity industry funding

We can connect you to our industry partners who may be interested in funding your great idea.  This funding may be made available through Ofgem’s Innovation Stimulus programme which includes:

Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) – a set allowance that each of the network operators will receive to fund small-scale innovation projects.

Network Innovation Competitions (NIC) – a series of annual competitions for electricity and gas, where network companies compete for funding for research, development and trialing new technology, operating and commercial arrangements.

Grant funding

We have close links with a number of organisations that provide grant funding, such as Innovate UK, Carbon Trust and Energy Technologies Institute. Through our networks we will be able to signpost you to the appropriate grant making body.