Deadline: 15 March 2020
Efficiency for Access Coalition (EforA) is currently accepting applications for the third round of its Research and Development (R&D) Fund, with up to £2 million in funding made available. This funding is supported by a range of donors, including UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.
The focus is on projects developing enabling technologies or products for weak and off-grid areas, with a particular focus on interoperability and inclusivity.
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To be in scope for this call, R&D projects must meet the following two criteria:
- Focus on the development of an innovative electrical appliance technology or product for delivery via inclusive business models in off- and weak-grid settings in developing countries
- Focus on at least one of the thematic areas of Inclusivity or Interoperability, as detailed below.
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While there has been considerable progress in people gaining access to energy services in recent years, many of the hardest to reach people from vulnerable, marginalised and disadvantaged groups continue to be left behind. R&D projects that focus on the thematic area of inclusivity must be targeted towards at one or more of the following vulnerable and disadvantaged groups:
- Gender (women and girls)
- Persons with physical or mental disabilities
- Other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including older people, children, stateless and displaced persons, and people in slums or informal settlements
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The EforA Compatibility and Interoperability Technology Roadmap was developed with input from a Technical Working Group (TWG) made up of representatives from solar home system (SHS) companies, PAYGo software providers, appliance manufacturers, an industry association, NGOs, and standards organisations. Interoperability refers to the ability of systems and components to work together in the same environment, including the exchange of information. Interoperability is a key feature of mature markets for a variety of technologies around the world. The Roadmap was developed as a first step towards defining the requirements for that future mature off-grid industry and identifies R&D gaps in the areas of compatibility and interoperability, as well as highlighting where industry coordination is needed.
The Roadmap provides the following recommendations for R&D activities – these are the R&D priority areas that EforA is primarily interested in. They also encourage R&D projects under this theme to demonstrate a collaborative approach with a coalition of industry partners.
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- Development of interoperable power distribution connectivity interfaces and protocols for SHS load management.
- Development of power distribution connectivity interfaces and protocols to support the ability of SHS controllers to interface with other SHS, DC mini-grids, or AC mini-grids.
- Development of general data connectivity and communications interfaces and protocols for remote monitoring of SHS and appliances.
- Low cost embedded controllers and other components that enable the implementation of the communication protocols.
- Development of technology to enable appliances that require high in-rush currents or have low tolerance for poor power quality to be interoperable with off- and weak-grid power systems, e.g. Embedded or pre-packaged controllers that enable soft-start of motor-driven appliances, allowing the appliances to run on power systems with low surge power capabilities.
Grants are available from £50,000 to £300,000. Up to £2 million in funding has been made available for this call.
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Please note that an additional ~8% in score will be given to projects that implement at least part of the project in a UK aid priority country. The UK aid priority countries are: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt (Arab Republic of), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania (United Republic of), The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (República Bolivariana de), Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The minimum eligibility criteria are:
- Applicants must be a legally registered and physically established business, academic organisation, non-profit, public sector organisation, or research and technology organisation from anywhere in the world. Applicants for funding may also form partnerships (such as between academics and businesses, or between entrepreneurs and established businesses). However, the lead partner will assume responsibility for the project and will be the recipient of the grant funding.
- Application must demonstrate outcomes linked to both the programme’s overall objective (of accelerating the availability, affordability, efficiency and performance of a range of low energy inclusive appliances particularly suited to developing country contexts) and the R&D scope for this call.
- Applicants must demonstrate sufficient match funding for project costs.
- Applicants must demonstrate a track record in research and innovation, and/or provide strong evidence of their capacity to successfully implement the R&D project.
- Applicants must be compliant with fundamental in-country and international human rights, labour standards, and environmental management laws. Applicants must not be involved in any act of terrorism or support terrorist activities.
- Applicants must allow regular due diligence.
For more information, visit https://efficiencyforaccess.org/enabling-technologies-call