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Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund: new funding round

Men sitting outside a shop selling fans

Grants of £50,000-£200,000 are available for organisations developing cooling products or technologies for use in developing nations. The second funding round call for entries is open until 16 August 2019 - see more below.

Does your organisation have an innovative solution to the problem of keeping food fresh in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia? Or do you know how to power fans or keep homes or businesses cool without access to electricity? Far from being an impossible task, these concepts form part of the challenge laid down by the Energy Saving Trust and CLASP, co-managers of the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund.

Cooling – specifically the use of fans, refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioning - currently accounts for about 17% of global electricity usage. However, around 1 billion people still do have not access to cooling technologies across the world.

Providing access to cooling changes lives, as well as having the potential to drive significant economic growth. For example, it can enable farmers or fishermen to secure a better price for their produce or fish and thus increase their overall income, while reducing food wastage. It allows for the storage of medicines, food and data and is instrumental to the delivery of many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to transform people’s living conditions across the globe.

But while cooling is essential, it’s also a polluter. Refrigeration and air conditioning both create carbon emissions from energy use – some estimates put this at 10% of total global emissions. This figure is set to rise further as demand increases for cooling technologies, with the growth of cities in China and India, a growing global population and increased temperatures due to climate change.

We need to develop sustainable cooling technologies to avoid future greenhouse-gas emissions. This is where the projects supported by the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund come into play. The fund is open to inventors, entrepreneurs and manufacturers all over the world to carry out research and development of specific technologies for use in developing nations.

Efficiency for Access Coalition

The Efficiency for Access Coalition is a global group of organisations, which promote energy efficiency as a potent catalyst in clean energy access efforts. Energy Saving Trust and CLASP jointly manage the Secretariat and through the Department for International Development-funded Low Energy Inclusive Appliances (LEIA) programme, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund.

The fund aims to help take advantage of the opportunity presented by the emerging appliances sector in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where new, start-up organisations can cultivate a radical approach to cooling technologies that are efficient and affordable but also inclusive, reparable, modular in design and resilient to local conditions that requires them to be durable.

First round success

In the first round, we awarded £1.05million to nine companies to conduct a diverse range of research and development projects, from improving remote monitoring for appliances to developing highly efficient motors, as well as off-grid smart fans, and a direct-current iron for use with solar home systems.  All the projects aim to accelerate the affordability, availability, efficiency and performance of low-energy inclusive appliances.

A number of UK companies fended off international competition to win funding, including:

  • Sure Chill, a Cardiff-based refrigeration company
  • Azuri Technologies from Cambridge, which provides solar home systems (i.e. a solar PV module, battery and LED lighting) to homes in East Africa
  • M-KOPA, an early-stage mover in the off-grid solar market, which has its R&D hub in Surrey
  • BBOXX, which originated as a start-up from Imperial College, London and offers pay-as-you-go solar power in 12 countries.

Second funding round – call for entries open now

The second funding round call for entries is open until 16 August 2019. We will notify successful applicants towards the end of September 2019 and projects must start by 15 October 2019.

Our second call will be funding research and development projects focused on developing an innovative appliance technology or products focused on cooling for use in off-grid or weak-grid settings – specifically fans, refrigeration and cold chain.

There are a number of challenges identified in the three technology areas and ultimately the projects will aim to improve the existing technologies and to reduce the environmental impact of existing cooling technologies. Grant funding for organisations is available for between £50,000 and £200,000.

The guidance for applicants is a great source of information if you’re interested in applying. If you have any questions, then please email the team at EforAgrants@est.org.uk.

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