Free Electrons 2018: Finding the World’s Best Energy Start-ups

It started with more than 500 applicants from start-ups in 65 countries, was followed by a “bootcamp” in Lisbon and modules in Australia and Silicon Valley, and culminated on Friday October 5th in Berlin with business pitches by the 15 finalists. These innovative start-ups were participating in the Free Electrons global energy accelerator programme, ultimately competing for the title of “Free Electrons World’s Best Energy Start-up” and a prize of $200,000.

Each of the finalists was given the opportunity to present their pitch on how their business will help create the future of energy focusing on areas including clean energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, digitization, and on-demand customer services. They were then asked questions by the audience, made up of entrepreneurs, investors and representatives from some of the world’s leading utilities.

The start-up identified by the judges as having the most promising business model and winner of the $200,000 prize was SOLshare, which created the world’s first peer-to-peer solar energy grid in a remote area of Bangladesh in 2015. The technology allows for peer-to-peer electricity trading between off-grid households connected to solar panels. At innogy Innovation Hub, we are pleased to be a part of their success and future development; just last week SOLshareannounced it had raised $1.66 million under Series A round led by our Silicon Valley-based arm, innogy New Ventures, LLC.

All of the participants and utilities in Free Electrons will have benefited from the hyper-collaborative nature of the programme. All 10 utilities conducted cutting-edge proof of concept projects relevant to their future growth strategies with four of the start-ups participating in multi-partner pilots or receiving co-investments from the utilities.


This collaboration goes to the very heart of the innogy Innovation Hub vision that the future of energy will be built through co-creation and convergence. It really is a win-win. The utility partners have the ability to support the start-ups scale fast through proof of concept projects, financial support and access, while the utilities are able to source innovative solutions that can be adopted and integrated in their businesses. We are proud to be the initiator of this accelerator programme and a founding member.

Stefan Padberg, Managing Director of innogy New Ventures, LLC


The Free Electrons global start-up acceleration programme is run by leading utilities from across the globe, including American Electric Power (USA), Ausnet Services (Australia), CLP Power (Hong Kong), DEWA (Dubai), EDP (Portugal), ESB (Ireland), Origin Energy (Australia), Singapore Power (Singapore), Tokyo Electric Power (Japan) and of course, innogy.

Adaptricity, EQuota, Fresh Energy, Greenbird, GridCure, GridWatch, Howz,, Kinsensum, Loqr, Orison, SOLshare, Sterblue, Relectrify, Verv were the finalists of the 2018 Free Electrons start-ups programme.

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