Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to apply?

You can apply if you:

  • Are a UK business set up as a sole trader, partnership, limited company or community interest company (including university or government spin-outs).
  • Have been established formally, for at least three months on the date of the application deadline, with a UK bank account in your company’s name.
  • Are considered an SME according to the EU definition.
  • Have an idea and business plan which is your own and/or which you are free to disclose.
  • Have previously applied for Shell Springboard funding, but have been unsuccessful.
  • Have a project that has not previously been supported with a Shell Springboard Award.
Why do companies have to be established for at least 3 months? And what is the definition of established?

We feel it is important that a business and its project have been well thought through. Our definition of established is that the company has been registered with the Inland Revenue and or Companies House, has a business bank account, and has spent some time establishing themselves with suppliers and or customers.

Why are community and voluntary organisations, charities, local authorities, university researchers not eligible?

When designing the programme, the Shell Springboard team were keen to ensure that the criteria were as tight and clear as possible. They reviewed the funding mechanisms available to different sectors and types of organisation.

In the interests of not duplicating existing sources of funding, the team concluded that Shell’s money was best placed in supporting commercial small businesses. They therefore decided to exclude the above organisations in order to focus on the business opportunities associated with the low-carbon economy.

How do I apply?

Applications are made by clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ section of the Shell Springboard website. Please do read the ‘How it works’ tab and Submission Contract before making an application. Once an application has been submitted it means the applicant has also agreed to the terms in the Submission Contract. Detailed instructions and tips are also included on the application form.

What is the Submission Contract and what are its main terms and conditions?

The Submission Contract is an important part of your application process, as it governs the submission and evaluation of your application. You can access it here. Please read in full before submitting your application. You will find useful information about eligibility criteria, the application process, funding details, IP protection and liability clauses.

When does the awards programme open and close for applications?

Shell Springboard will open to applications at 10am (GMT) Monday 2nd October 2017, and the deadline for submissions will be 5pm on Monday 6th November 2017. We suggest you register for our newsletters to receive the latest news and updates to the programme. This can be done by registering an account with the Shell Springboard application website, heading to the ‘Manage my account’ section and selecting the relevant check-box. Alternatively you can email us at mail@shellspringboard.org or call us on 0870 850 7085.

How will my application be judged?

Your application will be considered if it meets the following three core criteria:

Your idea will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

You will be asked to describe how your project will lead to a reduction in direct emissions (which occur when carbon emissions are avoided by the use of your product/service) and indirect emissions (which occur when carbon emission savings can be associated with the use of your product/service but do not arise directly from its application). Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride and the HFC and PFC groups of fluorinated gases. All of these gases have different global warming potentials and can be converted into an equivalent quantity of carbon dioxide (for example, methane has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, so 1 tonne of methane emitted is equivalent to 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide). For this reason “carbon emissions” is used as a shorthand way of describing all greenhouse gas emissions in carbon equivalent terms.

There are numerous sources of information on carbon emissions factors arising from fossil fuels consumed for transport and energy, as well as from industrial processes. For example, the Defra website contains links to several documents with carbon emissions factors from UK energy use. The important thing is that you are able to substantiate the additional carbon emissions reduction that will result from your successful idea.

Your idea is innovative

It does not have to be a technical discovery but your enterprise should have the potential to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. For example, it could be a new way of bringing an established technology to market, a new service that will lead to reduced carbon emissions, or a novel business commercialisation strategy.

Your idea is commercially viable

A realistic, comprehensive and actionable business plan is essential. You will be asked for evidence of sound financial planning and market understanding. It is important that you have already explored the route(s) to market and have a realistic development strategy. You should be able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of your customer base and marketing strategy, as well as a grasp of relevant regulatory hurdles and how you plan to overcome them.

Commercial viability of an enterprise also means that you have the right team that can make it happen. The people involved need to be committed and have the skills to see it through. The Shell Springboard award is intended to provide a financial “boost” to help bring your idea closer to commercial success, and not just to cover operating costs. That is, the impact of Shell Springboard on your idea should be material, and the link between receiving an award and making progress towards commercial viability should be clearly stated.

Finally, applications will be assessed according to their broader social and environment impact. Low carbon innovation can often present remarkable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing societal problems. The criterion is the measure of the benefits of an enterprise or innovation to society. This may include benefits to employees, customers, the general public or society at large.

Will I get feedback if my application is unsuccessful?

Due to the volume of applications that we receive each year it is unfortunately not possible for us to give any feedback on unsuccessful applications.. All applicants will be contacted regarding the status of their application. There will be no appeals process for unsuccessful applicants. Please note that assessors will not meet individuals or give any feedback on applications.

Once I’ve applied when will I hear whether I’ve been successful?

Applications are accepted until 5pm on Friday 3rd November 2017. Applications are then assessed and all applicants are informed by email whether they have been successful or not in getting to the next stage. This process will be completed by January 2018.

If my application is successful what happens next?

If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend a regional final in March 2018. Please note that you will not necessarily attend the regional event that is geographically closest to your place of business, since finalists are frequently pooled by technology type and matched to the expertise of the judging panel. Travel expenses incurred will be covered by Shell, even if you do not win funding.

How are the shortlists for the two regional finals selected?

All applications are assessed by independent experts. Shell Springboard has contracted Verco to undertake this assessment. Verco has considerable expertise and 28 years’ experience in low-carbon energy projects.

This process consists of three stages:

 

Initial review of online applications

All submitted applications are read in full after the deadline and are assessed according to the three core Shell Springboard criteria outlined above.

Only applications which meet all of these criteria (i.e. which describe business ideas that are carbon saving, innovative and commercially viable) will proceed past this stage.

Please note that, at this stage, no further information on the enterprise will be requested or reviewed from the applicant beyond that which is provided within the submitted application. This includes websites, promotional materials etc. It is therefore the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the information contained in their submitted application demonstrates how their idea meets all of the three programme criteria.

This initial review filters out all applications which fail to meet one or more of the three Shell Springboard criteria. The resulting long-list goes forward to the second stage.

 

Detailed review of long-list of applications

The remaining applications are then subjected to a more detailed review, aimed at gaining an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses against the three Shell Springboard criteria. Applications will also be assessed for their broader social and environmental impacts, beyond carbon saving. Carbon saving calculations are checked and analysed in terms of accuracy, additionality (i.e. would they have happened anyway) and the degree to which such carbon savings might provide a direct commercial benefit (i.e. through the realisation of carbon credits, for example).

Innovative aspects are assessed by comparison with existing technologies or other technologies in development, and evidence of any patents or other intellectual property claimed by the applicant that might give them unique proprietary rights to exploiting the idea. An innovative product or technology that is not owned by the applicant, but simply licensed from a third party would not normally count as innovative, unless the applicant can demonstrate that they are uniquely placed to bring this licensed product/technology to the UK market.

Commercial viability is assessed according to the applicant’s understanding of the potential market(s) for their idea, the quality/credibility of their team (including an understanding of the gaps in the team), and whether they are ‘ready to go’ to make positive use of Shell Springboard funding.

Finally applications are assessed according to their social and environmental impact. Low carbon innovation can often present remarkable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing societal problems. This criterion is a measure of the benefits if an enterprise or innovation to society. This may include benefits to employees, customers, the general public or society at large.

A number of applicants may be contacted at this stage to take part in a telephone interview. The purpose of this interview will be to clarify any uncertainties in the initial application and provide the judges with further detail where required. These interviews will take place during November and December 2017. All applicants requested to undertake these interviews will be contacted several weeks in advance to arrange an appointment time.

This second stage review results in the scoring of each of the long-listed applications according to each of the three Shell Springboard criteria. The three criteria scores are totalled to produce an aggregate score for each long-listed application.

 

Preparation of finalist lists

The third and final stage of the application assessment process is to draw up the shortlists for each of the two regional finals. There will be up to nine finalists at each regional event. The finalists are selected on the basis of their score from the second stage of the application process.

The shortlisted finalists are then invited to an appropriate judging event for face-to-face presentations to independent judges, and specific questioning about their proposals. Further guidance on how best to prepare for the judging panels and the practical details for each event will be sent to finalists after the regional shortlists have been completed and finalists notified.

Please note that you may be asked to travel to attend the face-to-face judging. The 2018 regional finals will take place in Aberdeen and Cambridge, with the national final in London. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by Shell.

What happens at the regional finals?

Here you will be interviewed by an independent panel of judges. Each business will be interviewed for 30 minutes but you will need to attend the full day and evening for the awards ceremony. Three awards valued at £40,000 will be available at each of the regional events.

What happens at the national finals?

At the national final you will be interviewed by an independent judging panel. These meetings will take place in April/May 2017. One national winner will have their regional award of £40,000 topped up with an additional £110,000 – a total award of £150,000.

How much money is available?

A total funding pot of £350,000 is available in 2018. At each regional final, three regional winners will be awarded cash prizes of £40,000 of funding. These six businesses will go forward to the national final, which will be held in London in April/May 2018.

At this showpiece event, one business will be crowned the national winner of Shell Springboard 2018. This business will then receive additional funding of £110,000 – meaning that the overall winner of Shell Springboard 2018 will receive a total of £150,000 funding to scale up its low-carbon business idea.

What do I do if I forget my password to access my application?

Call 0870 850 7085 and speak to one of the Shell Springboard team who will help you.

Will my idea be protected?

To protect all applicants, the independent assessors and judges will have obligations of confidentiality. The limited number of people involved in the administration and promotion of Shell Springboard (Shell employees and others) will also be bound by obligations of confidentiality. However, it is your responsibility to make sure you are satisfied with the level of protection for your idea and apply for patent protection if appropriate. Before submitting your business plan, you must confirm that you understand and accept this.

Will applicants’ ideas be protected from Shell?

A regional panel of independent experts will make the decision as to who will receive the awards. Any Shell employees involved in the administration or promotion of the programme will be bound by obligations of confidentiality. The business plan will be judged solely on reduction of carbon emissions, innovation and commercial viability.

It should be noted, however, that the reduction of carbon emissions is an important business objective of Shell. Shell aims to be an innovator in this area and is consequently continuously developing its own technology and exploring ideas. It may be that Shell Springboard receives and funds business plans similar to or the same as Shell’s current or proposed activities. Before submitting your business plan, you must accept that Shell may already be independently pursuing business opportunities – similar or the same as those in the submissions reviewed – and that this will not in any way preclude Shell from continuing with these opportunities.

Are there any obligations for the winners and finalists?

Finalists and winners will be asked to provide relevant material for publicity; be available for any media opportunities that may arise from the promotion of the Shell Springboard in the press; and in some instances, may be invited to participate in further Shell exhibits, events and roundtable discussions. There are no gagging agreements or contracts to bind the finalists and winners to Shell into the longer term.

Who are the Judges?

The judges for the three panels are selected for their insight and impartiality. Examples of previous judges can be found under the ‘How it works’ tab. Once the awards have been announced, up to three businesses from each regional event will then meet a national panel of judges as they compete to be recognised as the overall UK winner. Please check back at a later date for more details on the 2018 judging panels.

Why is the UK split into two events?

Unlike some other UK-wide awards programmes, we were keen that the shortlisted businesses are given the opportunity to meet judging panels face to face. To enable this to happen we decided to split the UK into two regional events. The events are not country focused and the spread and number of shortlisted businesses is dependent on the number of applications we receive. We believe that this is the fairest way of running the programme and benefits the applicants greatly.

Why is this programme only in the UK?

It was decided to give the programme time to establish itself in the UK before considering its value in other countries. Shell is not ruling out the possibility that this programme could be rolled out in other countries, but there are no plans to do so at present.

Does this programme only support Technology based ideas?

It’s true that many of the winning ideas, so far, have had a technology focus. However we are increasingly seeing service and software ideas with a strong focus on reducing carbon emissions. If you have an idea that meets the three core Shell Springboard criteria, please do apply to the programme.

Why does Shell run Shell Springboard?

The drive for sustainable human progress is a major global challenge.  Societies all over the world, including the UK, must balance the resource needs of a growing population with the pressures this will put on the environment. To achieve this ambition, we need game-changing solutions that make our living habits more sustainable and help us deliver more energy with lower carbon emissions.

The UK Government has set legally binding targets to reduce the country’s carbon emissions, looking to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. This will involve huge changes to our energy grid, our transport and our heating systems. The challenge is how we support this transition whilst maintaining our quality of life and preserving economic prosperity.

At Shell, we will play our part in the energy transition by continuing to serve our customers, and helping the UK find affordable, cleaner energy solutions for a low carbon future. But meeting the scale of this challenge will require a collaborative effort on an unprecedented scale. We work with academia, policymakers, NGOs and other businesses to encourage innovation and support enterprises with bright ideas that address sustainability challenges and support the energy transition.

The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of low-carbon small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can play a vital role in addressing this energy transition whilst accelerating the UK’s economic growth. New ventures are efficient innovators and often the sources of disruptive technologies. This is why SMEs account for over 90 per cent of the UK’s low-carbon sector, estimated to be worth £121 billion to the UK economy[1].

But we also know that the lack of funding and business development skills is often holding back promising innovators from starting up and growing their businesses[2]. That’s why our two flagship programmes, Shell LiveWIRE and Shell Springboard, deliver an integrated approach to developing the innovation pipeline by supporting  UK entrepreneurs in starting up and growing innovative enterprises.

Shell is proud to have supported some of the brightest and most inspirational business ideas. Together, we can create a smarter, more sustainable future.

What else is Shell doing to address climate change?

Shell Springboard is intended to complement the work we are doing as an international business.

We are focusing our efforts in four key areas:

Increasing our supply of cleaner-burning natural gas for power generation.

This will play a vital role in building a sustainable energy system. Using natural gas is the cheapest and fastest way for many countries to meet their growing electricity needs, while reducing CO2 emissions. Replacing coal with natural gas to generate electricity can cut power plant CO2 emissions by around 50%. And this is a solution that is available now. Over half of Shell’s production is natural gas.

Supplying more biofuels for road transport.

Around one fifth of CO2 emissions from the energy sector come from road transport. Options like electric and hydrogen powered transport will play their part in the future, but biofuels can offer a practical, quick and commercial way to diversify and reduce CO2 emissions from this sector over the next 30 years. With our partner in Brazil, Shell is investing in the production of ethanol from sugarcane. By some standards Brazilian Sugarcane can produce up to 70% less CO2 than conventional petrol.

Progressing CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) and alternative energies.

From 2008 to 2012, Shell spent $2.3 billion developing alternative energies, carbon capture and storage and other CO2 related Research & Development, this of course continued in 2013.

CCS will be critical. It is a technology that captures nearly all the CO2 emissions from power plants and industrial processes, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. The International Energy Agency sees CCS as an important way of reducing greenhouse gases at an affordable cost. Shell’s Quest CCS in Canada, officially opened in November 2015, will store 1m tonnes per annum, which is equivalent to 250,000 cars.

If a company has a great idea, will you buy them out? Is this just cheap R&D for Shell?

Shell takes no equity in the companies supported by Shell Springboard and has no plans to enter into commercial relationship with Shell Springboard applicants or winners. This is not the purpose of the programme, as outlined above.

There is no obligation on Shell or the supported companies to develop any longer-term commercial or other relationships. Shell already runs two programmes, which help develop small and medium sized business ideas, but with the express purpose of furthering Shell’s commercial interest – Shell Technology Ventures (STV) and Shell GameChanger. More information can be found on www.shell.com.

What is Shell Technology Ventures (STV)?

STV also seeks to help small business with great ideas. However, the model is more akin to that of venture capitalists, as funds are invested in the expectation of generating a return. By contrast, Shell Springboard offers no strings attached funding. Moreover, STV focuses solely on those businesses that offer technologies and capabilities in areas directly related to exploration and production.

What is Shell GameChanger?

The objective of Shell GameChanger is to foster innovation through partnerships and alliances. Shell can potentially engage with the applicants as a customer, licensee, development partner or investor in the company. The applicant also works closely with a Shell employee.

Again, this programme is very close to Shell’s business – the ideas need to fit in to one of Shell’s business areas and need to demonstrate the technology’s relevance to Shell commercial interests. This is very different to Shell Springboard.