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Energy innovation ‘testbed’ opens in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester’s Energy Innovation Agency launched its first open innovation challenge to businesses and individuals in April, focusing on low carbon heating for non-domestic buildings.


Greater Manchester’s Energy Innovation Agency launched its first open innovation challenge to businesses and individuals in April, focusing on low carbon heating for non-domestic buildings.

The Energy Innovation Agency is a new partnership between Greater Manchester’s universities, local government and industry that aims to scale up clean energy innovations to make sure the city region can reach its climate targets.

The Agency will focus on four core challenge areas designed to engage innovators from across the country and beyond to solve some of the energy industry’s biggest problems:

  • Energy generation and storage
  • Decarbonisation of heat
  • Low carbon transport
  • Energy diversity and flexibility

First challenge

The first challenge, officially launched at the Agency’s opening event in Manchester on 28 April, focuses on finding new solutions to decarbonise heat generation in non-domestic buildings. 14 innovators had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to a panel at the launch event, with further responses still being accepted.

Pitch applicants are asked to describe their innovation, outline how it responds to the challenge, their current stage of innovation development, as well as the support required to help them commercialise. Individuals and organisations from within and outside Greater Manchester can apply.

‘We need innovators, entrepreneurs, and rainmakers’

Speaking at the launch event, David Schiele, Director of the Agency, said: “Twelve per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions are produced from heating non-domestic buildings, of which sixty per cent still generate their heat by gas. Reducing these emissions will be essential for the UK and, indeed, the rest of the world to speed up the progress of creating carbon-neutral cities and towns.

“As the home of The Energy Innovation Agency, Greater Manchester will be our testbed for this challenge, as well as the three challenges to follow. The potential prize extends far beyond the confines of our city-region and as such we’re looking globally as well as locally to find solutions that can help to bolster this transition.

“We need innovators, entrepreneurs, and rainmakers to come forward with their brightest responses to this challenge - the world literally depends on it.”

‘Fresh dimension’

Also speaking at the launch event was Peter Emery, CEO of Electricity North West and Chair of the Energy Innovation Agency. He said: “If we keep going at the same rate as we are, Greater Manchester will blow its carbon budget in six years.

“The political will is there, but more action is needed. We need to turn frustrations into positive outcomes, giving a pathway to change and innovation. The Energy Innovation Agency adds a fresh dimension and Greater Manchester is the place to make this happen.”

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