Initiate! goes global as energy start-up and innovation program spreads it wings

By EUW/ PGE Initiate! team

Calling all energy talent!

The Initiate! program, where many start-ups and innovators in the energy and power sectors got their flying start, is going global! Since its launch in 2014, as part of energy event European Utility Week’s practical program on the expo floor, the platform has been bringing together start-ups, students, corporate executives, public sector innovators and investors from around the world.

Not just another innovation theatre, Initiate! strives to make true impact. “We’re so proud of how Initiate! has evolved and become a global movement that breeds talent, empowers next-gen energy entrepreneurs and creates impactful programs to move our industry forward” says Initiate! director Sietske Jacobs. “In recent years we have tested the concept by organizing programs in Asia, the U.S., Australia and Africa and the success of these events has convinced us to roll out the complete Initiate! program globally to these four continents and potentially India.”

She adds: “to advance the energy transition and create a just and fair energy future it is vital to dare to think differently.  It’s time to act. We have no time to waste and we need to look to solve the most pressing challenges we face around the globe, whether that is being more energy efficient, reducing CO2 emissions, providing energy access and fair and equal opportunities for society. I feel we need to challenge ourselves and connect on all levels to speed this process up. Connecting the next generation of technology and talent with the professionals in the industry is key to this transition and this is exactly why we are launching the Initiate! program around the globe in 2020.”

Initiate! success stories over the years include…

– “Since winning the Initiate! Start-up Award in 2017 in Amsterdam, we have closed two rounds of funding and are working with five network and system operators across three continents. At the end of this year we are going for the first commercial trading so quite a journey with the transactive grid. This will be the first deal with physical flows and paid trading fees.”

– Jo-Jo Hubbard, the co-founder and COO of Electron, one of the original energy tech firms to harness blockchain technology for transactive grid systems.

– “Attending the Young Talent Program as a Brand Ambassador gave me the opportunity to connect with individuals and companies shaping smart energy of the future. As a result of connections I made at EUW, a European company even hired me as an independent consultant.”

– Alexandra M. Ryan, Master of Arts in German and European Studies 2017, Georgetown University

– During the first Initiate! Impact Challenge to take place at African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in Cape Town in May, a team of students from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya won ZAR20,000 in prize money for an innovative concept to provide equitable energy access to remote villages based on, among others, ‘Uber(ising)’ solar energy.

– GridX, a previous U.S. Initiate! participant, won “Supplier of the Year” from Arizona Public Service (APS) in April; and a Consumers Energy revamped customer portal powered by GridX’s billing analytics engine went live in May and September. The company expanded by hiring new executives including VP of Product Management, VP of Retail Energy Services, and VP of Sales. Total staff has increased from 45 to 85.

Industry support
The official global launch of the Initiate! program took place at this year’s European Utility Week and POWERGEN Europe energy industry event at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. This year’s Initiate! program will focus on the latest trends in the European power and energy sector. These include:

– Manifesto sessions — how do we create a just and fair energy future
– Renewable energy and the decentralization of the energy sector 
– Corporate Matchmaking Program Accelerate 2 Initiate!
– Female leadership in the energy sector
– The global entrepreneurial landscape

The power and energy industry and its stakeholders have embraced and supported the Initiate! concept from the start. Partners for this year’s Initiate! at European Utility Week & POWERGEN Europe include InnoEnergy, Pinsent Masons LLP, Amazon Web Services Inc., Enel and The GC Index® while :agile E.ON, EDP, Iberdrola Perseo, Infoware McKinsey Energy Insights, TU Berlin, VARTA and Vattenfall are sponsors.

European Utility Week and POWERGEN Europe are organized by Clarion Energy, which is part of Clarion Events, and with over 40 events that cover the oil, gas, power and energy sectors, is one of the group’s largest portfolios.

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