Challenges such as climate change and scarcity of resources require global and continuous innovation. To achieve the greatest possible impact, such solutions must also adapt to local circumstances.
One World, One Challenge: Different Solutions
Startups solve the challenges of a decentralized, renewable energy supply out of their own context:
In Germany, starting from a central production towards a decentralized, renewable power supply and the integration of intelligent, grid-independent solutions. In East Africa, starting from an unstable power grid with low coverage and numerous decentralized fossil energy sources (diesel, kerosene) towards an integrated on/off grid solution based on renewable energies.
Due to their different starting points, startups in Germany and Africa set different accents, but the diversity of experiences offers previously untapped opportunities.
Learning from other local contexts
With the joint initiative “Startup|Energy”, the University of Freiburg and the Stiftung Solarenergie promote regional and international exchange between start-ups working in the field of de-centralized and renewable energy supply in Germany and East Africa.
“With this initiative, the University of Freiburg wants to encourage students, researchers and founders to start their own and innovative projects in the energy sector. With a focus on our university profile field ‘Environment and Sustainability’, we want to strengthen Freiburg as a pioneering region for the expansion of decentralized energies both regionally and nationally”, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Gunther Neuhaus, Vice Rector for Research at the University of Freiburg.
The idea behind “Startup|Energy”: learning from other local contexts for your own idea. “Energy start-ups in Germany and Africa can draw on different experiences, which offers unused opportunities for decentralized and renewable energy supply. Those who want to arrive at smart and sustainable solutions should be able to change their perspective and broaden their horizons,” says Dr. Harald Schützeichel, Chairman of the Stiftung Solarenergie.
Energy Camps form the core of Startup|Energy: The two to three-monthly events for selected startups take place in Freiburg and Kampala/Uganda, alternating every quarter. Up to five start-ups take part in each Energy Camp and are selected by a jury. Each start-up receives three coaching sessions within two to three months, which take place live or online on the topics “market and customers”, “product”, “sales” and “financing”. At the end, the teams present their business ideas and put them up for discussion in a workshop lasting several days before other startups, investors and experienced entrepreneurs. The final event is a competition with attractive prizes.
The first Energy Camp will take place in Freiburg from November 2020. Applications are open to individuals and teams whose mature idea is in the (pre-)foundation phase or whose company was founded no more than three years ago. The deadline for applications is 31 October 2020.
The new initiative is receiving broad support both in Germany and in East Africa. In Germany, partners include Fraunhofer ISE, the Institute for Sustainable Technical Systems (INA-TECH) and the Black Forest Business Angels. In East Africa, almost all national associations of the renewable energy industry have already declared their support.
Further information on Startup|Energy and the conditions of participation on the website www.startup-energy.org.