Free Electrons 2019: International energy acceleration programme on its way to Lisbon

Eight months on, having spanned three continents, the Free Electrons 2019 cohort moves to Lisbon on September 16th for the third and final module of this year’s edition of the world’s first global energy accelerator programme.

As well as providing an opportunity for the participating start-ups to work closely with utilities, mentors and other partners and resources in order to jump-start their company’s growth. The module will reveal which of the companies will be crowned “Free Electrons World’s Best Energy Startup” and take home the $200,000 prize.

Since we co-founded Free Electrons in 2017, it has proven to be a tremendous catalyst for accelerating change for the participating energy utilities. This year’s edition has been no different thanks to the collaborative spirit and open-mindedness of the 10 participating utilities and the quality of the participating start-ups. Free Electrons is a truly unique programme; focusing intently on deal facilitation and pilots, later stage start-ups are given unparalleled access to utilities – often working in close cooperation themselves – to help them scale and enter new markets in all corners of the globe.

The most successful Free Electrons ever

As we look forward to Lisbon and the final installment of this year’s programme, we look back on the journeys that brought the start-ups and utilities here. To date, the innovation injected into the utilities and growth achieved by the starts-ups this year has surpassed all previous editions of Free Electrons.

481 Applications

This year drew 481 applications from start-ups in 62 different countries focusing on all aspects of energy, including: energy management (18%), IoT & digitisation (14%), energy generation (14%) and smart grids (9%). Of the applicants, just 30 who were selected to join the bootcamp phase of the programme.


During the bootcamp in Dublin, utilities got to meet the start-ups and understand the potential application of their innovations to their businesses. For the start-ups, it was a fantastic opportunity, not only to speak directly with 10 global companies, but to test their business cases on a global platform and collect valuable feedback about their products, features and roadmaps. At the end of an intensive three days, the start-ups presented their viable pilot cases.

Module 1

From the 30 start-ups at bootcamp, 15 were selected to continue to Module 1 in Columbus Ohio. Here the utilities and start-ups were matched and 27 pilots were announced to apply their solutions to the utilities’ business challenges.

The 15 start-ups selected were: Akselos SA, Ambi Labs, CARTO, DEXMA Sensors, Energyworx, Enging – Make Solutions, Envelio,, GridBeyond, Heila Technologies, Hygge Power, Save 2 Compete, sensewaves, Solandeo and WePower Network.

For more on Module 1:

Module 2

Next the start-ups moved on to Hong Kong where they had the chance to present the results of those first pilots announced in Module 1. The objective of this module was to deep dive into active pilot projects, discuss learnings and progress made while new pilots were also initiated, taking the total for this cohort to 41 pilots – setting a new record for Free Electrons!

Importantly it was also an opportunity to move forward with commercial transactions and the first investment contracts were made. We, along with American Electric Power, were excited to sign with Hygge Power to test their smart power storage device.

For more on Module 2:

“This year’s cohort has been incredibly impressive which is illustrated by the number of pilots that have been initiated. We’re looking forward to the last leg of Free Electrons to get an update on how those pilots are progressing, to see how these innovative start-ups are adapting and refining their offerings to meet the business demands of the utilities and ultimately to see how this highly collaborative environment is helping to create the future of energy.”

– Stefan Padberg, Managing Director, innogy New Ventures LLC

Find out more about why we initiated – and continue to be enthusiastic participants of – Free Electrons:

Free Electrons 2019: International energy acceleration programme on its way to Lisbon