Regen has worked with Innovate UK to develop a Playbook for Network Innovation which gathers learnings from previous innovations to support future innovators on the journey to successful implementation and commercialisation.

Network innovation funding has enabled some great ideas to become a reality, from technology solutions to new markets and ways of doing things. However, a more radical step change is required if we are to meet the net zero challenge.

Our experience of working with the energy networks and innovators is that they face a number of challenges. We’ve worked with the network companies to help increase collaboration, transparency and engagement in network innovation, but one of the missing pieces has been the lack of codified knowledge on what makes an innovation project a commercial success that can be adopted by all.

The Playbook for Network Innovation identifies and explores patterns of successful innovation, drawing together academic theory on innovation and experiential insights from more than a hundred innovators. By harnessing these invaluable insights, we’ve created a powerful resource that will guide innovators, energy networks and their partners as they develop and refine their ideas, craft project applications and embark on their journey of network innovation and successful commercialisation.

As part of this work, we conducted a deep dive into previous projects to look for trends related to success and failure, including identifying when useful learning was generated and whether the project was rolled out into business-as-usual within the networks.

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“We’re excited to be launching the Playbook for Network Innovation today. This resource will be a powerful tool for those new to the sector and will also provide useful tips for even the most experienced network innovators. It marks the first step in a journey to better understand the steps to success, which Innovate UK will continue to capture and share going forwards.”

– Tamar Bourne, head of innovation at Regen


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“I’m delighted to see the launch of the Playbook. This resource is a fantastic tool in bridging the knowledge and experience across our energy networks, with the cutting-edge innovation being developed by our innovation community.  The Playbook has been shaped with input from a diverse range of stakeholders, and we hope it will prove to be a tangible resource for innovators and network innovation teams to maximise their activity.”

– Paul Padaruth, head of commercial at Innovate UK


What’s in the Playbook?

The Playbook centres around three dimensions of successful innovation:

  • Learning and knowledge
  • People and processes
  • Markets and application

These dimensions form the foundations of successful innovation. Within each there are several factors influencing success, which explore how innovators can navigate the energy network landscape to develop their ideas into successful projects.

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While the dimensions are rooted in academic theory, the Playbook takes a practitioner’s view, providing top tips and recommendations from experienced innovators that have conducted successful previous projects. These case studies focus on projects which have been rolled out in one or more of the energy networks.

Learning and knowledge

This dimension is all about openly communicating the knowledge and learning gained through your network innovation project. The way in which knowledge is shared and communicated directly affects people’s opinions of an innovation and whether they are likely to want to use it. This section explores Intellectual Property arrangements, building on previous innovations, sharing knowledge widely and engaging with relevant stakeholder groups, drawing on case studies from Wales & West Utilities and National Grid ESO.

People and processes

People are at the heart of innovation. Each person or organisation involved brings a different dimension and it is important to understand both their role and motivations. This section explores the relationships needed with the energy networks, building a multi-skilled team, securing network buy-in and senior sponsorship, and creating a robust governance framework. It draws on case studies from SSEN, SP Energy Networks, Nortech Management Ltd, Advanced Infrastructure and Smarter Grid Solutions.

Markets and application

The way in which an innovation is deployed and used is key to its success. Users have preferences for innovations that bring cost or performance advantages and these need to be understood and communicated well. This section explores understanding and aligning to a well-defined network need, defining a clear end-user proposition, understanding the interaction with policy and regulation and planning for scale-up and rollout. It draws on case studies from National Grid ESO, Cadent, National Gas and LCP Delta.


You can read the full Playbook here. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this resource.

For more information about Regen’s innovation work, contact Tamar Bourne.

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