Platform to help startups disrupt the energy industry

The new Energy and Sustainability Platform has been established to encourage innovation and collaboration in the energy sector.
Published: Wed 02 Aug 2017

Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley global innovation platform for startups, has partnered with tech giant Siemens to launch a new Energy and Sustainability Platform where startups are encouraged to drive new innovations and initiate key collaborations in the energy market.

By participating in the programme, Siemens gains the chance to connect with emerging startups for collaborative energy projects.

Disrupting the energy sector

The aim of the Platform is to provide support for startups that have the potential to disrupt the energy industry with their innovative technologies. The Platform will also help initiate key collaborations between startup companies and a network of corporations and venture capitalists.

The main focus will be on technical areas that include digital platforms and new business models in the energy market, energy efficiency, distributed energy resources; wind, solar, energy storage and microgrids, electric mobility, and alternative energy, to name a few.

"The collaboration with Plug and Play as a member in the new energy programme is a key initiative for Siemens to develop the relationship with leading startup companies in the energy and adjacent markets." says Zuozhi Zhao, Chief Technology Officer of the Power and Gas Division of Siemens.

Wade Bitaraf, Director of Plug and Play Energy & Sustainability, points out that the platform will help uncover "new technologies in artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance, blockchain, data analytics, machine learning, supply chain optimisation, Industrial IoT, asset tracking, cybersecurity and more" in order to adapt them to the energy sector.

Plug and Play will run two 12-week business development programmes a year, with up to 20 participants per class. The number of new entrants offering disruptive models is growing, particularly in the Netherlands, UK and Germany where disruption is encouraged.

In a recent interview on market disruption with Engerati, Sebastian Asioli Macchi, manager energy and utilities, Capgemini highlighted the need for startups’ contribution to the transforming energy sector: “Utilities are taking startups very seriously. They are either partnering with them or investing in their innovative services or products. Startups have a serious part to play in this disruptive landscape and utilities should be open minded and flexible when it comes to startups. Creating value for customers should be their aim and this is where innovation and flexibility will be key.”

UK startups to get government support

Meanwhile, the UK government has proposed a national investment fund to help fledgling UK businesses across all sectors compete globally, specifically the US.

The Government has identified a £4bn funding gap between US and British firms. The new fund is aimed at helping address this gap and “boost British business”.

It also highlighted that British businesses currently rely on financial backing from the European Investment Fund (EIF). One of the rationales for setting up a new dedicated fund would be to ensure that firms still have access to the funding they need, should cash flow from the EIF dry up after Brexit.

“Britain is an innovation powerhouse and it’s vital that we make sure our cutting-edge firms have the funding they need to meet their potential and conquer new markets,” said Chancellor Philip Hammond in a statement.

According to the Treasury, the new fund will “help cutting-edge British startups become world-leading unicorns” – a term that denotes companies that have increased their valuation to above $1bn.

Although the UK currently leads Europe in the creation of so-called unicorns, it lags behind the US which accounts for 54% of all unicorns globally. China accounts for 23%, easily eclipsing the UK which is home to just 4%.

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