In this episode of the Power for All podcast, Kristina Skierka, Founder and CEO of Power for All, speaks with Alice Goodbrook, Innovation Lead for Energy Catalyst on the Energy Catalyst program, which funds private sector innovation and energy access.
Energy Catalyst supports the UK and international businesses and organizations to develop highly innovative market-focused energy technologies to enable energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as South East Asia.
Alice explains the programme, which started in 2014, has funded about 135 projects involving more than 300 unique organizations engaged in anything that's clean energy, from solar to storage to mini grids to energy efficiency and in 29 countries.
She says grant funding programs like Energy Catalyst support technologies and business models that are at very early stages of development for conventional finance, such as investment or a bank loans. Yet they hold massive potential to change lives.
“And this is where grant funding really comes into its own, because that allows an organization to try something out without it making or breaking the company. And if their idea does works, it allows them later to access conventional finance,” Alice says.
She also adds that the programme has an accelerator side of it to for when the technologies are ready for market.
“When your technology is ready for market, the accelerator will help your business grow. So that can be anything from helping with investments, creating a business plan or doing a bit of market research. Whatever your business needs to be able to become market ready,” she explains.
Alice adds that collaboration and knowledge are key for the program and the innovators supported by Energy Catalyst have embraced a culture of learning and sharing with the industry. This was important in helping people not to make the same mistakes and to help the industry to progress much quicker.
Alice notes that from her many years in the sector, she had come to accept with pride that the community in development and energy access space was much more open and collaborative than in any other fields she’s worked in.