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ENA NIC Call for Ideas 2019/2020
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Innovation is a key element of the existing RIIO (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs) price control mechanism. One of the principal processes to encourage innovation in the energy industry is through an annual competition for funding known as the Network Innovation Competition (NIC), which is provided to Networks by the regulator, Ofgem. More information about how the NIC funding mechanism fits into the wider energy innovation landscape can be found in the EIC and Energy System Catapults ‘A guide to Funding’.

The Gas and Electricity Networks in Great Britain (GB) have committed to working closely together to ensure the benefits of new technologies and processes are realised across the whole energy system. Our goal is to develop high-quality innovation projects that deliver value for money for customers, and we want to work with other innovators in the energy industry to help us achieve this. As such, we are pleased to launch our latest Network Innovation Competition (NIC) Call for Ideas and invite you to put forward your innovative project proposals. We want to hear about new, innovative and low carbon solutions to the priority areas that we have identified in this Call us so we can work with you to take them forward and trial them on the networks.
The opportunity
The NIC is an annual opportunity for gas and electricity network companies to compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies and new operating and commercial arrangements. Funding will be provided for the best innovation projects which help the network operators understand what they need to do to facilitate innovation as GB moves to a low carbon economy. Up to £20 million is available through the gas NIC, and up to £70 million for the electricity NIC. For whole energy system projects, the allocation of funding will depend on the expected benefits of the project.

We strongly value your ideas and to demonstrate our commitment to this call for ideas, the gas and electricity networks will support the highest scoring applicants and work with them to develop their proposals into submissions to the Ofgem competition.
Before submitting an idea you should ensure it complies with the Gas NIC Governance Document and/or Electricity NIC Governance Document and consider whether it:
• Addresses relevant industry challenges within required time frames
• Stimulates a low carbon energy sector and/or delivers environmental benefits
• Demonstrates a robust methodology
• Provides value for money for customers
• Generates knowledge that can be shared
• Is innovative (i.e. not business as usual or delivered elsewhere)
• Has broad industry involvement and/or funding

All applicants should carry out a review of existing and completed innovation projects (including those on the Smarter Networks Portal) to ensure the proposed project is genuinely innovative and builds on any previous learning.

By nature, the competition is typically suited to large-scale long-duration projects i.e. over £2M budget running for two or more years. While this call is directly focused on project ideas for the NIC, third parties looking to work with the networks on smaller projects can submit these proposals on ENA’s Network Innovation Collaboration Portal.

In line with the NIC and to reflect the project bid process within the wider industry there is no mechanism to reclaim any costs associated with the preparation of a NIC bid. Please be aware that if your idea is selected to proceed through to the Ofgem NIC submission process you will be required to fund your own bid costs. As part of the requirement to demonstrate value for money for customers in project delivery as a named partner, you will have to contribute a portion of your costs as cash or benefit in kind. Typically this should be excess of 10% of your portion of the project costs, with higher proportions if your return from a successful project is higher.

Please note that in previous years Ofgem has stated that the NIC funding should not be used to pay for electricity storage assets or electricity/gas generation. As such, projects involving significant expense in these areas should indicate where this element of their funding is coming from.
Ideas should be submitted using this Google Form by 17:00 on Friday the 8 November.

Call Opens: 16 September 2019
Webinar:10:00 25 September 2019
Call Closed: 17:00 8 November 2019

Proposals shortlisted: 26 November 2019
Pitch to Networks: 3-5 December 2019
Decision announced: 20 December 2019
Get in touch
More information about the call is available here:

On Wednesday 25 September, ENA are hosting a webinar to share more information about NIC funding, the Call for Ideas and the innovation focus areas within it. We will also provide an opportunity for stakeholders to ask any question they may have as well as address any frequently asked questions we have received. To register for the webinar, please follow the link in the section below.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact
Useful links
• ENA NIC Opening Webinar:
• ENA NIC Call for Ideas Guidance document:
• ENA NIC Call for Ideas Question PDF (reference only):
• EIC & ESC 'A guide to Funding':
• Gas NIC Governance Document:
• Electricity NIC Governance Document:
• Smarter Networks Portal:
• Network Innovation Collaboration Portal:
• Gas Network Innovation Strategy:
• Electricity Network Innovation Strategy:
• ENA NIC Call for Ideas Google Form:

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