Innovative NZ startups breaking new ground in the energy sector
New Zealanders are known for their ingenuity, and with the right support, homegrown start ups can make it big not just nationally, but also globally. Orion, Ministry of Awesome and Ara Ake have teamed up to find the best of NZs energy start-ups and help take them to the next level.
An exciting new initiative, the Orion Energy Accelerator is offering two start-up grants worth a combined $25,000 for people and start-up companies with ground-breaking energy innovations. As part of the programme, start-ups are being guided through a highly focused Accelerator programme to validate and commercialise their ideas.
Marian Johnson, CEO of Ministry of Awesome said, “The accelerator will be a game-changer for all participants as they’ll be surrounded with support and guidance from some of the brightest minds in energy, technology and start-ups. Our goal is to ensure these teams step out of the programme having made progress with their start-up and ready to commercialise their solutions.”
Out of 35 applicants, 11 have now been chosen to participate in the Accelerator programme. These innovative organisations all have a solid value proposition which will be further developed through the Accelerator, helping to move New Zealand towards a carbon neutral future:
HIKO Unlimited: Designed specifically for humanitarian and emergency response organisations, as well as telecommunications providers and users in hard-to-reach places, Hiko has developed a clean, sustainable non-chemical powered portable battery device.
Solagri: To help farmers become more sustainable and energy efficient, Solagri has developed an on-farm energy management solution. The concept involves installing a solar array and battery system at their own cost on land leased from an agri-business, and selling the energy produced back to farmers at a low cost.
Evisi: Evisi enables commercial electric vehicle operators to reduce their charge costs and transition to low carbon transport by making fleet charger electricity demand optimisation and electric vehicle telemetry easy to manage.
Toby: Toby is an electric tractor utility platform with grid support capability, aiming to optimise energy use on farms and smallholdings. Coupled with Agrivoltaics and stationary storage, the platform will increase energy independence and resilience.
Ruka Marine Turbine: Ruka Marine Turbine has developed an innovative and lower cost technology that aims to disrupt the mature marine wind turbine technology that is currently used.
Canterbury Power: A social enterprise that aims to solve ‘power poverty’ by installing solar panels on at-risk homes and making excess solar energy available to the energy poor.
Grid Share: Grid Share develops a number of innovative spill management and hybrid renewable embedded network designs. Their dynamic computing solutions can consume electricity capacity in real time, helping to avoid wastage and make more efficient use of energy.
Phase Power: Phase Power has developed a unique inverter for rebalancing phase power at photovoltaic (PV) power generation sites. This aims to maximise the returns from the PV and also balance phases for the power network in three phase environments.
Econx: Econx have developed a smart home solution that brings integrated control of both the security and automation of your home to your fingertips, from anywhere in the world. By consolidating this control your home becomes more efficient, more secure and simple to use.
AgLoco™: A zero-carbon tractor powered directly by crop residues or wood fuel, eliminating the need for diesel, reducing waste and improving land productivity. Requiring next to no infrastructure, AgLocos™ helps farms grow affordable food beyond fossil fuel.
Chronos: A communications and control platform that enables energy customers to automatically optimise their power generation, storage, delivery and consumption of power.
Orion General Manager, Customer and Stakeholder, Paul Deavoll is committed to growing a more sustainable energy sector. “The energy sector has a big role to play in addressing the climate crisis. It’s vital we explore how we can do things smarter and innovate faster. We’re really excited about the innovations that came through and look forward to working closely with these teams to help them grow,” says Paul.
With Ara Ake’s involvement as a key partner in the programme, start-ups will also have the opportunity to meet and share their ideas with energy leaders and investors in Taranaki – the heart of the New Zealand energy sector.
Dr. Cristiano Marantes, Chief Executive of Ara Ake, says, “This is a unique opportunity for start-ups to form connections and get access to invaluable knowledge and expertise from the complete energy ecosystem that Taranaki as to offer.”
The Accelerator, which kicked off on 16 June, is now two weeks into its 10-week programme. The start-ups will be mentored through all aspects of their business including product development, market validation, fundraising and everything in-between. The goal is to validate their ideas and progress toward commercial readiness.
As Marian says, commercialising breakthrough solutions can be challenging. That’s why this accelerator will apply full focus to testing and growing them over the 10 weeks. The programme has also received backing from partners Ara Institute of Canterbury, EY, and Wynn Williams.