New social impact energy grant targets underrepresented entrepreneurs

A new not-for profit social impact grant scheme has been launched, the Energy for Tomorrow (EfT) campaign. This grant scheme has been created by Centrica to support and empower entrepreneurs, particularly those from underrepresented groups, who have concepts and innovations to tackle climate change, lower energy bills, and deliver real impact to people and communities.

Research shows companies with all male founding teams raise 91% of all venture capital investment in the UK and in the last five years, just one percent of venture-backed founders were black. At a time of global climate, environmental and health crisis, it is now more than ever when communities need to be supported with innovative products and services. Through partnering with and investing in new ideas developed by non-mainstream thinkers, it is hoped EfT will empower society to change the way they think about and use energy.

Sarah Wright, Fund Manager at EFT, commented: “British industry is missing out on a huge pool of talent whose ideas and innovations could deliver significant impact and benefit to society. The importance of diversity of thinking to deliver the innovation that we need cannot be underestimated. I passionately believe in the power of working with all people and organisations, especially social enterprises and social impact initiatives to make a difference.”

From today, EfT is calling for applications that focus on the scheme’s inaugural theme ‘Innovations that help make people’s lives easier and more sustainable’. The aim is to partner with of six to ten organisations who have innovative ideas to help deliver affordable, accessible and reliable clean energy. Each chosen organisation will receive a grant of between £100,000 to £500,000, provided over a period of up to three years. Priority will be given to smaller organisations with turnover of less than £1 million and to projects focused on the UK.

The scheme’s revenue is derived from the feed-in-tariffs of solar panels installed on over 250 schools across the UK. These solar panels currently save each school almost £2,500 each year, collectively offsetting 1.5 tonnes of CO2.

EfT is welcoming applications from charities, CICs and not-for-profit and for-profit companies and enterprises with a clear social mission. These include organisations that are:

  1. Innovators – creating new solutions to reduce carbon emissions and changing the way society uses energy
  2. Helping people – to engage with their individual energy use, understand how their behaviours can impact the environment and demonstrate how things can be done differently
  3. Supporting communities – especially hard to reach groups, to collaborate and use energy in a more sustainable way, delivering real benefits to their local area

Wright continues: “The world of energy needs clean, sustainable energy solutions that deliver for all. It’s why I am excited to be launching the Energy for Tomorrow grant scheme, which takes funds derived from school solar panel tariffs, to help a diverse range of entrepreneurs get their energy concepts to market.”

All of the above criteria complement Centrica’s 2030 Responsible Business Ambitions -

The Ambitions support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and address some of the most challenging issues facing society, including tackling climate change, building a more skilled and inclusive workforce, innovating to make customers’ lives easier and making our communities stronger.

Through partnering with and funding new ideas developed by non-mainstream thinkers, it is hoped that EfT will enable people and communities to change the way they think about and use energy.