ESB is calling on Irish energy start-ups to apply for a coveted spot on the prestigious Free Electrons programme, the global accelerator initiative that connects worldwide utilities with entrepreneurs to refine and test their products with the potential to reach 73 million customers in more than 40 countries.

Now in its third year, the programme gives start-ups direct access to the world’s leading utilities with the opportunity to showcase their products and services and take part in global pilot projects. The winning company also receives €200,000 in a cash prize.

The programme attracts more than 500 applications annually with 30 start-ups initially selected to showcase and pitch their respective solutions. This year, Dublin and ESB will host the selected entrepreneurs for a three-day bootcamp where they will compete for 12 coveted final spots. The finalists will then compete in two other modules in the US and Asia, before the final pitch-off event in Portugal in September.

The Dublin Bootcamp takes places from April 2 to 4 in the Smock Alley and Guinness Storehouse. Two representatives from each start-up will present their market-ready and customer-focused solutions, after which they will have a 30-minute interviews with each of the 10 utilities.

Speaking about the importance of the Free Electrons programme in identifying and supporting energy start-ups, Jerry O’Sullivan, ESB’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The transition to a low-carbon future requires radical thinking, new technologies and creative ideas. This programme and Dublin Bootcamp offers ESB and the other participating utilities the unique opportunity to work with dynamic and exciting start-ups that are developing solutions to meet the demands of today’s consumers and industry.

“As one of the founding programme partners, ESB continues to work closely with a number of finalists including Climote, the Dundalk-based heating control specialists and Driivz, the e-mobility experts. We are also undertaking pilot projects with SterBlue, the French drone software start-up, solar companies HST Solar and BEON, smart grid experts Depsys, as well as artificial intelligence and block chain experts Jungle AI and Verv.”

The programme runs between April and October 2019 with the aim of recruiting energy start-ups that will drive the next generation of ideas in clean energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, digitisation, and on-demand customer services. In the last two years, Climote and Limerick-based Gridwatch were selected as finalists.

The utilities and accelerators behind the Free Electrons programme will offer expertise, resources and access to their customer base in exchange for investment and partnership opportunities.

More than 50 pilot projects have been completed by Free Electrons over the past two years. Closing date for 2019 applications is Friday 22 February.

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