Designing and delivering an incubation support programme

Client: Innovate UK Energy Catalyst


Innovate UK wanted to pilot an incubation support programme for SMEs that had received funding under the Energy Catalyst programme. Innovate UK recognised that incubation support helped companies bring their products and services to market, but hadn’t run a programme before.


CLT designed, delivered and evaluated a flexible incubation support programme for companies across the energy sector. We tailored the offer to each SME and supported companies to enter new markets, secure industrial partnerships, improve their business plans and prepare for external investment.

CLT incubated companies that received Energy Catalyst funding, and designed and delivered a bespoke incubation programme for Innovate UK. We worked with companies from a range of sectors, with different Technology Readiness Levels targeting a variety of markets in both developed and emerging economies.

CLT developed and administered a questionnaire to all Energy Catalyst grant recipients in order to understand what help each SME needed. To prioritise which companies received support, we evaluated the likely impact of incubation support on their business.

Our programme design offered different levels of intensity of support, from 1-hour mentoring to 10-day hands-on support tasks. We offered incubation support in four areas: Market Engagement, Industrial Partnering, Business Planning and Investment Readiness.

CLT delivered trouble-shooting clinics where SMEs could speak to an expert and get practical, actionable advice. We also ran masterclasses on strategic sales and investment readiness, including practical case studies and examples of tried and tested approaches and methods. For a select group of companies, we delivered deeper supports tasks covering the four areas of support.

Following the support, we evaluated the SME’s experience of the programme to demonstrate impact. Testimonials from companies showed how valuable to the programme was.

“Invention is great, but without commerciality it has no impact and makes no difference to individuals or society. If Government is funding the invention part, it should make sure it does all it can to boost the impact and offer incubation support alongside the grant” – Oaktec

“These sessions helped clarify my thinking on options for commercialisation and the kinds of business models that would be effective and attractive to investors.” – Storflow