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On this page, you can find out about our funding competitions, including the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) and the Masters of Innovation Challenge.

Our Competitions – your idea could help future generations

At National Grid, we’re committed to being an innovative leader in energy management and safeguarding the world around us for future generations.

Building a better future is something we can’t achieve alone, so twice a year we hold two innovation competitions. We invite innovators across the industry to help us confront and resolve the challenges facing our electricity transmission business.

Our two funding competitions are:

  • Masters of Innovation Challenge
  • Network Innovation Competition (NIC).

Masters of Innovation Challenge 2019

Could you be the next UK’s master of innovation? Every year we set three innovation challenges and give you two months to come up with ideas.

Whether you’re a university with a talent for developing new technology, a small business, consultancy or a large supplier, we’d love to hear from you.

Our innovation team will review your proposals and will put forward the best ideas for funding under the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA).

Teaming up with an organisation as large and well-resourced as ours provides an opportunity for you to bring your ideas out of the lab and into a solution that benefits our entire industry.

We’ll update this page soon with more information on our next Master of Innovation Challenge including entry details.

Our 2018 winners were, in no particular order:

3D Thermal imaging of Cable Sealing Ends – Manchester University

Acoustic Emission in Electrical Assets – Cardiff University

Smart Geo Grid – Cardiff University

Active Power Control Unit - Siemens

Unlocking Transmission Capacity Through Energy Storage - Quanta

Weather Analytics for Improved Transmission Constraint Management – Digital Engineering

Weather Analytics for Renewable Deployment – Digital Engineering.

Network Innovation Competition (NIC) 2019

Your inspiration could be the next great innovation for the UK’s electricity transmission network.

Every year, we invite submissions for our Network Innovation Competition (NIC) where we map out some key themes for you to focus your ideas on.

How it works

Projects must be innovative, save money for our customers and have a carbon or environmental benefit. Project proposals go through an Initial Screening Proposal (ISP) stage. This is when Ofgem will give a go/no go decision to proceed to full project submission. Costs for development of the project are not recoverable.

The maximum lifetime funding available for projects to apply for (and receive) from the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) is £70m.

If your proposal shows merit but is not progressed through the NIC route, we’ll look at whether it can still be funded through our annual Network Innovation Allowance (NIA).

You can find out more about the competition by reading the Ofgem NIC governance document.

We’ll update this page soon with more information on our next Network Innovation Competition including entry details.

What is the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)?

National Grid Electricity Transmission is a natural monopoly and we are regulated by Ofgem through the RIIO price control framework.

One of the key innovation proposals for RIIO (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Outputs) was the introduction of a Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) for electricity and gas.

The purpose of the NIA is to encourage transmission owners and distributors to innovate to address issues associated with the development of their networks. The Network Innovation Competition (NIC) is also part of Ofgem’s innovation stimulus package.

You can find out more about the NIA funding criteria by clicking on the link below.

Find out more

Data sharing policy for NIA and NIC projects

Following revisions to the NIA and NIC Governance documents that were published by Ofgem on 30 June 2017, Ofgem has introduced a requirement for us to make available certain network and consumption data we gather in the course of a NIC- or NIA-funded project.

The purpose of this data sharing policy is to make clear how such network or consumption data can be requested by interested parties and the terms on which we will make such data available.

This policy applies to the network data and consumption data arising in the course of a NIC- or NIA-funded project which is not commercially confidential or sensitive.

In accordance with the dissemination requirements of the NIC/NIA governance framework, we already publish much of the data arising from our NIC/NIA projects. You may wish to check this before making an application under this policy, in case the data which you are seeking has already been published.

National Grid NIA and NIC Data Sharing Policy September 2017

The Deeside Project – part of our NIC portfolio

If your proposal leads to a successful bid in 2019 it would join our cutting edge NIC innovation portfolio alongside the Deeside Project which has now been renamed as the Deeside Centre for Innovation (DCI).

DCI is Europe’s first innovation centre where electricity assets can be tested off-grid, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Visit the website