Global collaboration to open opportunities for energy innovators

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A collaboration has been announced between global business accelerator program Free Electrons and Innovate UK, partner in the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund.

The partnership will open up new opportunities for innovative companies in the energy sector.

The Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), launched this year, will spend around £450 million over five years on energy network innovation. It will enable big ideas to accelerate the transition to an emissions-free energy system at the lowest cost to consumers, helping position the UK as a ‘Silicon Valley of energy’.

Innovative companies and energy networks team up to submit projects for SIF funding, with the aim of bringing the most promising solutions to commercial reality as quickly as possible.

Establishing projects and exploring investment opportunities

The new agreement will give selected high growth potential innovators who have won SIF funding access to the Free Electrons global network and ‘Bootcamp’ module. It offers the chance to work closely with leading global energy utilities, whether to refine their value propositions, establish pilot projects or explore investment opportunities.

The Free Electrons program gives startups the opportunity to work alongside leading energy utilities from around the globe to deliver cutting edge solutions and co-create the future of energy.

The program focuses on collaboration between startups and utilities to pilot projects, commercially deploy products, facilitate investment opportunities, learning and development. Deals to date exceed USD $50 million.

The final 15 startups selected to progress following the Bootcamp module are in the running for the prize of USD $200,000.

The global collaboration between Free Electrons and Innovate UK showcases the kind of strategic alignment that will be essential to enable accelerated delivery of net zero. It demonstrates how to maximise benefits for startups, utilities, consumers and the planet.

Growing and scaling innovators internationally

Matt Hastings, Deputy Director of the Ofgem SIF program at Innovate UK, said:

The Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund is set to unleash a wave of innovative energy businesses.

Working with Free Electrons will help us put selected winners on a global stage with the world’s leading utility companies, helping them to grow and scale nationally and internationally, attract investment and support UK consumers to realise maximum value from the fund.

On behalf of the Free Electrons network John McKiernan, Head of Innovation Pipeline at Electricity Supply Board (ESB), said:

The Free Electrons program helps global utilities access the best new ideas and technologies in their continual drive for better ways to manage the world’s energy networks, and in turn helps innovative startups to succeed and grow.

Our collaboration with the Ofgem SIF and Innovate UK will boost the flow of innovative ideas, support startups, and help accelerate the changes needed as the world works towards a lower-carbon future.

Further information

About Free Electrons

Free Electrons is the leading global startup program connecting the world’s most promising startups with leading energy utilities to deliver cutting-edge solutions and co-create the future of energy.

The program offers a unique opportunity for later-stage startups to gain access to utility partners that can help them scale and expand into new markets around the world. Startups are also in the running for the prize of USD $200,000: no strings attached.

The utility partners participating in Free Electrons are leaders in the clean energy transition extending across more than 40 countries, with access to over 82 million customers worldwide, representing over $173 billion in combined revenue.

Nine of the world’s leading utilities are members of the program:

  • ESB (Ireland)
  • American Electric Power (USA)
  • AusNet Services (Australia)
  • CLP (Hong Kong, China)
  • DEWA – Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dubai)
  • EDP – Energias de Portugal (Portugal)
  • E.ON (Germany)
  • Origin Energy (Australia)
  • SP Group (Singapore).

The annual Free Electrons program enables selected startups to work alongside major energy utilities in a series of modules held physically and digitally across the globe. This enables them to refine their value proposition, trial and test technology and gain access to invaluable resources, advice and support from around the globe.

To date, the utilities in the Free Electrons program have spent over $20 million in startup pilot projects.

Visit the Free Electrons website.

About the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund

Ofgem is the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, Britain’s independent energy regulator. Its role is to protect consumers now and in the future by working to deliver a greener, fairer energy system.

The purpose of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is to support network innovation that will contribute to:

  • achieving net zero rapidly and at lowest cost
  • delivering real net benefits to network companies, energy users and consumers
  • helping the UK to become a ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy.

The SIF is funded by energy consumers and network users and is expected to invest around £450 million in energy network innovation over the next five years. It is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. The first competition for funding under the

SIF was launched on 31 August 2021.

Find out more about the Strategic Innovation Fund.

Top image:  Credit: Urupong, Getty Images

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