Free Electrons finalists pay a visit Down Under

Thursday, 10 May, 2018

Free Electrons finalists pay a visit Down Under

Free Electrons, the global energy start-up accelerator program that connects promising energy start-up companies with leading utility companies, is back for a second year after a successful launch in 2017.

This year’s program received over 500 applications from companies seeking to revolutionise the way we use energy in the future and claim the US$200,000 prize. The top 30 were selected to proceed to ‘bootcamp’ in Lisbon, Portugal, with just half of those going on to the first module in Sydney and Melbourne this week.

Module 1 sees participants learn from successful case studies of start-ups and utilities working together. This is an opportunity to understand utilities and their piloting process, with start-ups learning to ‘speak corporate’ and understand the inner workings of large operations.

The finalists are said to represent some of the world’s most innovative minds in the energy sector, pioneering new technologies in areas such as smart grids, customer solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), digitisation, clean energy and energy efficiency. They are being whittled down by 10 international utility companies, including AusNet Services.

“It’s unique and exciting to bring together the most innovative entrepreneurs and some of the world’s largest utilities,” said Chad Hymas, executive general manager of commercial energy services at AusNet Services.

“The start-ups bring the game-changing ideas and the utilities bring scale and a very large, international customer base. It’s an incredible opportunity which benefits both parties and will ultimately empower our customers around energy efficiency and provide cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy.”

Melbourne-based Relectrify, a company that upcycles retired electric car batteries for storing residential solar energy or providing power back-up to homes, has already caught the eye of the utilities and been judged to have enormous and immediate potential in the industry. Company CEO Valentin Muenzel is “immensely pleased” to be one of the 15 remaining finalists, saying, “Working with 10 leading power utilities from around the world will allow Relectrify to further accelerate the positive impacts our battery life-extending technology will unlock.”

Besides the prize money for the winner, the Free Electrons program offers the finalists an opportunity to work collaboratively with local players, utilities and mentors in order to accelerate their company’s growth. In return, utilities get an early insight into potentially disruptive technologies and ideas.

Image credit: © Nivens

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