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Innovation call to support energy customers in vulnerable situations

26 August 2021


Britain’s energy networks are looking for companies to bring forward new innovations that will help ensure no customer is left behind in the transition to a better connected, digital, Net Zero energy system.

Britain’s gas and electricity network operators, represented by Energy Networks Association (ENA), are offering an opportunity to find partners to turn an idea into an innovation project that will benefit customers who find themselves living in vulnerable circumstances.

The challenge

ENA is looking for a wide range of innovative solutions to support vulnerable customers. These may include the development of new applications of technologies, processes, technical solutions, models or approaches. However, only projects which meet the governance requirements of the Ofgem Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) will be eligible for funding via the NIA.

Dan Clarke, Head of Innovation at Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said:

“Innovation is powering us to Net Zero but it’s crucial that we make sure that everyone can benefit, especially those who may live in vulnerable circumstances. We believe innovation is key in this space, and want to hear about new ideas specifically focused on helping those customers who need it most. I really encourage innovators to get involved in this call for ideas and join us at this year’s Energy Networks Innovation Conference.”

The opportunity for innovators

Successful submissions will:  

  • Get the opportunity to present their idea to an audience of energy network operators at this year's Energy Networks Innovation Conference, run by ENA
  • Receive personal feedback from innovation and vulnerability leaders who work for the UK's electricity and gas networks
  • Join a collaborative virtual forum to talk through your idea with innovation and vulnerability leaders as well as fellow innovators
  • Make a five minute virtual pitch at the Energy Networks Innovation Conference on 15 October

If an energy network operator or other audience member is interested in working with you to develop your idea into an innovation project, they will contact you directly within the conference messaging tools to take it forward.

How to enter

Entry forms are available on the conference website. Deadline for entry is 5pm on 10 September 2021.

Press contacts for journalists

Peter Kocen

Senior Press and Public Affairs Manager

+44 (0)20 4599 7665

ENA Press Office


Notes to editor

About this year's Energy Networks Innovation Conference

To be held on 12-15 October, this year’s free, online #ENIC2021 brings together the learning from over 60 UK innovation projects. ENIC 21 is without doubt the essential conference for people who manage, develop and implement innovation initiatives in the energy sector.

This year’s conference will be opened by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, and offers a single platform where delegates can access the major learnings from the largest regulator-funded innovation projects in the country – the Network Innovation Competitions (NICs) and Network Innovation Allowance (NIA).

  • “Outside the box” keynotes bringing fresh inspiration to the innovation programme
  • An interactive exhibition hall bringing stands to life with product demos, videos, simulations, live network chats and one-to-one video meetings with leaders and innovators
  • Personalised digital “swag bags” full of ideas and information to review and share
  • 100 on-demand “catch up” presentations and panel debates
  • International insights homing in on what the world’s future energy systems look like
  • Audience polls taking a snapshot of what industry peers really think
  • Fast follower showcases demonstrating what proven technologies can be implemented in the networks

Vulnerable customer challenge leaders

The challenge will be overseen by leading experts from electricity and gas network operator companies:

  • Dr Geraldine Paterson, Innovation Manager, Electricity North West
  • Michael Eves, Senior Innovation Engineer, SP Energy Networks
  • Steve Dacre, Vulnerability Innovations Lead, Northern Gas Networks

In its Consumer Vulnerability Strategy, Ofgem identifies five key areas where the Energy sector needs to focus its efforts:

  • Improving identification of vulnerability and smart use of data
  • Supporting those struggling with their bills
  • Driving significant improvements in customer service for vulnerable groups
  • Encouraging positive and inclusive innovation
  • Working with others to solve issues that cut across multiple sectors

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

More information