It's well known that accelerator programs can have a transformational effect on start-ups, helping them to develop and scale their business. What may be more surprising is that accelerators can have a similar effect on long-established companies. Major global corporates are now combining efforts, sharing insights, running joint pilot programs and developing the future of energy on an open innovation platform. Welcome to Free Electrons, a world-leading innovation platform for energy related start-ups. Now in its second year, Free Electrons has become known as the world's most revolutionary program for promising energy start-ups.
After a kick-off “Bootcamp” in Lisbon earlier this year and a first successful module in Sydney/Melbourne, last week module #2 rocked the Silicon Valley, with 15 start-ups and 10 utilities taking part. The focus was on learning from the initial pilots in order to develop new ones. The week ended highly successfully, providing ground for 13 new pilots, increasing the total number of pilots from 15 to 28 in only 4 days.
Maximizing performance: Start-ups test their business cases on a global scale
The first two days of the Silicon Valley module were fully dedicated to learning and sharing about the first 15 pilots that are already underway. This enabled the utilities to better assess the potential for new pilots and how the utilities and start-ups could work together more effectively. The third day gave the Free Electrons start-ups an opportunity to pitch to members of the Silicon Valley ecosystem, including external investors, corporate executives and local start-ups from the Bay area. The day ended on another high note: the first of the Free Electrons start-ups announced its acquisition and the program saw its first exit after only two years. We are immensely proud to see our start-ups scale and succeed!
One reason for this quick success is that the start-ups are experiencing a much steeper learning curve thanks to their joined-up hosts, allowing them to scale much faster. Before Free Electrons, start-ups were mostly forced to run one pilot at a time as corporates didn’t openly share the results of their engagement. Free Electrons has revolutionized the concept of a corporate acceleration program, with open innovation providing an opportunity to work ‘open book’ with several utilities at the same time.