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Making the Global Energy Transition a Success

The Start Up Energy Transition Project

Cleantech companies and investors are now a large global force, creating jobs and wealth. What if they had a platform where they could network and promote innovation? What if there was a way to link all the cleantech start-ups, nonprofits, corporates, investors, venture capitalists, and the public sector? We would be that much closer to making the necessary global energy transition a reality.

Well, now there is. The German government recently launched the Start Up Energy Transition for visionaries and vanguards fighting climate change. The Start Up Energy Transition, driven by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena)—the German Energy Agency—is based on three pillars: an award, a tech festival, and a network. The award identifies the most promising start-ups worldwide working on energy transition; the tech festival will bring together start-ups, international venture capitalists, investors, and partners in the public sector; and the network will be a global platform linking like-minded people from various fields to promote innovation in energy transition.

I’m fortunate to be one of the ambassadors for this effort. It’s exciting to be able to strengthen the many great initiatives worldwide working on energy transition. I am on a team of 13 ambassadors from all over the world—including people from the European Climate Foundation, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, and other environmental organizations and universities. In fact, the initiative already includes 70 partners from over 20 countries and is still growing.

Never before have we experienced such an exciting time for clean energy innovation. In 2015, venture capitalists and private equity investors funneled a little over $6 billion into clean energy companies globally, 27 percent more than in 2014. And according to Standard & Poor’s, the Paris Agreement will unleash over $16 trillion in investment in cleantech over the next 15 years. From renewables to energy efficiency to transportation to energy storage, start-ups around the world are growing and investors are watching. The Start Up Energy Transition Award is looking at innovations in five categories: urban energy, mobility, cleantech, platforms and communities, and the digital energy world. There is also a special “Sustainable Future for All” prize for start-ups combating energy poverty and sustainably electrifying the 1.2 billion people in the world without access to electricity.

Besides identifying the most promising start-ups working worldwide on global energy transition, we will help them collaborate with corporates and investors to accelerate their visions and business models. The goal is that by building these bridges, we will create global impact and greatly accelerate the energy transition.

Start-ups can apply from now until January 31, and the winners will be awarded at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue in March 2017. The winners not only win five-digit prize money, but will also receive professional coaching and have access to our great number of partners, including international venture capitalists, industry, and other start-ups.

As Andreas Kuhlmann, CEO of dena, stated in announcing the project, “Global energy transition is one of the biggest challenges in human history. But it is also an amazing opportunity for combining innovative business and political will to create a sustainable energy solution for the planet to prevent climate change. Tomorrow’s energy system is already in the making.” We hope the Start Up Energy Transition Project will help us get to tomorrow’s clean sustainable energy system sooner. You are very welcome to join us by contacting

Image courtesy of iStock.