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SMEs chosen to accelerate West Midlands' net zero drive

Innovations include using data from end-users to create new services and business models and user-centric approaches that help to reduce fuel poverty.


Eighteen UK SMEs have been chosen for an accelerator programme to help the West Midlands become a leader in developing net zero energy systems for buildings, commercial estates and industry.


Innovations include zero carbon domestic, commercial or industrial heating solutions, using data from end-users, infrastructure and networks to create new services and business models, grid-scale battery energy storage to mitigate constraints points for renewable connections and user-centric approaches that help to reduce fuel poverty.


Innovator Challenge


The Innovator Challenge is being run by the Energy Launchpad at government-backed innovation agency Energy Systems Catapult, in collaboration with Climate-KIC and supported by Energy Capital, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority.


The SMEs will get access to a range of advanced energy system expertise and specialist business support to help innovators unlock new routes-to-market, secure investment and breakdown barriers to growth.


Members of the Innovator Challenge advisory board will help to introduce SMEs to potential partners working on innovation projects across the West Midlands, including those in Energy Innovation Zones. The latter have been established to support the acceleration of low carbon innovations to address the key challenges of this call: integration/heat and fuel poverty/alternative transport solutions.


“Achieving Net Zero will require close coordination across the energy system and arguably most crucially between the built environment, transport infrastructure, industry, and commercial energy consumers,” said Paul Jordan, business lead for Energy Launchpad at Energy Systems Catapult. “Innovation that enables an interoperable relationship across sectors, consumers, technology, generators and distributors is fundamental.”


The SMEs taking part in the challenge are:


Advanced Infrastructure: enables energy suppliers to personalise energy through half-hourly energy attributes data service and programmable API. It can be used to form hyper-local personalised energy billing, household level carbon accounting, demand side response automatic emissions reduction, lower-carbon trading strategies, and benchmarking against other energy suppliers


Airex: has developed a smart ventilation control to reduce heat loss from homes while also managing indoor air quality. Its “intelligent airbrick” has in-built sensors to monitor and analyse environmental conditions, with smart algorithms that responsively regulate the airflow


BankEnergi: creating bankable energy assets in a unique end-to-end trading solution. The solution encompasses working with end-users to provide energy and flexibility services along the value chain. It provides end-users with carbon and energy savings. The SME aims to develop the industry standard on energy and flexibility trading


Block Dox: has a patented technology that uses the Internet of Things (IoT), machine- and deep learning data science to help make spaces smarter. It uses IoT sensors and data science to blend real time occupancy data with indoor air quality and other data sets, such as weather and event data) providing insights to building owners and managers about improving demand-side management


Carnego Systems: collects, stores and analyses real-time data from buildings to determine whether buildings work as designed. With specialist knowledge in human behaviour in buildings, they have developed the Shimmy product, which is being installed in live deployments, combining real-time energy usage information, with transport, home information, community calendars and resident messaging


City Science: working with the public and private sectors, the software developers are developing energy products and services to reduce waste and improve efficiency, including smart meter thermal efficiency ratings and energy digital twin and electric vehicle modelling


Connected Response: offers a range of control and metering technologies to deliver flexibility services that match renewal generation with electricity demand. It has a range of products and systems to provide real time control with cloud connectivity


Cumulus Energy Storage aims to be the leading manufacturer and developer of grid-level energy storage batteries with what it claims is the lowest levelised cost of storage (LCOS) globally. It has combined a 200-year-old battery technology with industrial scale mining and water treatment processes to create electricity super-storage in the shape of a low-cost grid-scale rechargeable copper/zinc battery


De-CO2: has designed an innovative approach to collecting existing property data, using an online portal and gamification techniques, to make the process of retrofitting a home simpler and more cost effective for consumers. The offering includes a virtual reality model that can illustrate the current energy performance, thermal model and embodied carbon of the property

“Innovation that enables an interoperable relationship across sectors, consumers, technology, generators and distributors is fundamental”

eCloudS has developed a low-cost, easy to implement and scalable platform that uses data and optimisation controls to reduce costs and carbon emissions of major energy users. Currently deployed in trial studies in the field, the eCloudS technology sits at the intersection of advanced energy management and building management systems to determine the best solution


EcoSync: aims to reduce carbon emissions, energy cost and waste with a simple solution, which is to stop heating empty rooms. It uses Internet of Things (IoT) devices, machine learning algorithms and a patent-pending hardware-free occupancy detection technology to find empty rooms and create responsive heated zones within buildings


GridDuck: a low-cost energy management system utilising wireless hardware, an online dashboard and an API. It offers real-time and historical per-second consumption data and remote control of appliances using a cloud-based alternative to a traditional building energy management system (Bems)


Gridedge: offers AI-powered efficiency and flexibility technologies to harness a building’s data to deliver cost- savings and reduce emissions. The innovation shifts demand to pre-empt peak prices, utilises day-ahead data and manages electric vehicles, distributed assets and building management systems in harmony


Q-Bot: supply contractors with a range of intelligent tools that: identify the needs of each property; automate repetitive tasks; track the work done; and, seamlessly share information in order to make the retrofit of buildings cheaper, easier and higher quality. Q-Bot’s solution uses a robot to apply insulation remotely, which is quicker, cheaper, performs better and is hassle free compared to alternatives


Rotaheat: has developed a patented heating technology that converts motive power into clean thermal energy in the form of heated fluids. Capable of delivering clean heat with claims of more than 97 per cent energy efficiency. Rotaheaters are suitable for space heating in buildings or to provide hot fluid for cleaning, industrial processing or energy storage


SEaB Energy: offers on-site energy from waste technology. Its patented Flexibuster and Muckbuster units are compact and easy-to-install, turnkey anaerobic digestion (AD) systems housed in shipping containers


Surple: offers energy management software that connects to electricity, gas, water and generation data, allowing the monitoring and management all energy data in one place


Tepeo: its Zero Emission Boiler (Zeb) combines electric resistive heating, dry core thermal storage and patent-pending technology to deliver the same performance as a fossil fuel boiler at a similar operating cost, but without associated carbon emissions.


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