Innovations with startups in the energy market: An interview with Dr. Dirk Bessau from InnoEnergy
Where do you see the biggest challenges for startups in the renewable energy industry?
In addition to the obvious challenges such as financing innovative solutions, there are many other special features that startups have to cope with. On the one hand we are dealing with a very diverse and agile market. Finding the right cooperation partners, networks and contacts is no easy task, especially as the high level of regulation makes market entry difficult in some cases. On the other hand in the energy industry we are dealing with an industry in which the cycles of change in technology and processes are very long – not easy conditions for young and dynamic startups.
What trends can startups rely on?
The energy sector is undergoing a transition towards CO2-free and renewable energies. Structural changes and the trend towards a decentralised energy supply require not only new ideas and products, but also a certain flexibility. Against the background of digitization, startups in this area can clearly be seen as accelerators of the energy revolution and certainly have competitive advantages. They find themselves in an energy market that follows completely different rules from those of a few years ago.
How can companies like InnoEnergy support startups in innovation development?
InnoEnergy provides more than just financial support: We invest in startups, but also provide access to the market. With our partner network, we create connections throughout Europe and enable young companies to realize their business ideas faster and more efficiently. We define our services individually with the founding team and accompany the entire process with experienced coaches who have comprehensive market knowledge. In this way, we contribute, for example, expertise in sales or financing, open up access to pilot partners and thus create a truly unique ecosystem.
Can you describe a current example?
The range of innovations we support at InnoEnergy is very wide. There are startups from Germany, such as vilisto, which develops an intelligent, AI-based radiator thermostat that enables enormous savings in heating costs for B2B customers. Another one is Skeleton Tech from Estonia, whose development of energy storage systems has been supported by us based on an innovation project. Our annual event offers a good overview of the innovations we support. „TBB – The Business Booster“.
That’s right, I did. They have created the TBB to bring together startups, industry experts and financial investors to exchange ideas, create impulses, contacts and business opportunities and experience sustainable energy concepts and innovative solutions together. What to expect from visitors and what’s new this year?
The TBB is the leading event for sustainable energy in Europe and at the same time the best example of what makes InnoEnergy so innovative. At this year’s TBB in Copenhagen, we will once again bring together our entire network of startups, industry experts, politicians and investors in one place over two days and present around 150 exciting solutions for sustainable energy. Visitors can really experience what we achieve and move in this industry. In addition to high-calibre keynote speakers, round-table discussions on various topics in the energy sector and an Open Innovation Village, there will also be reverse pitches this year, where startups and innovators will be able to discuss and answer exciting energy questions in short Q&A sessions.
Dr. Bessau, you have been in the innovation business for a long time, what does surprise you still?
Personally, I am still very positively surprised at how incredibly dynamic the startup scene with its young founders is. For some young talents today, being a founder is a real career option and an alternative to classic “career paths”. It is exactly this dynamic that we need if we want to successfully implement energy innovations.
Dr. Dirk Bessau heads InnoEnergy’s Berlin office. InnoEnergy is the innovation driver for sustainable energy in Europe and supports startups in their early stages. He looks back on many years of experience in the energy industry and began his professional career in 2002 in the energy market at a utility company. In addition, he was General Manager of a company focusing on renewable energies. This was followed by two management positions in the energy industry: on the one hand in the largest association for renewable energies and on the other hand in the development of one of the two German gas market areas.
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Ambi-Vation connects innovative companies and start-ups for innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and match-maker, Ambi-Vation promotes cooperation between established companies and start-ups within the framework of a general exchange as well as within the framework of concrete customer, supplier and research partnerships. In concrete terms, Ambi-Vation supports companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and initiation of cooperation. Formats such as research of relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours serve this purpose. The monthly newsletter also informs curious company representatives about current cooperation examples and events related to these cooperations.
Ambivation connects established companies with startups for innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and matchmaker, Ambivation facilitates collaboration between founders and executives for general exchange, concrete customer, supplier or research partnerships. Ambivation supports companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and initiation of cooperation. Formats such as research of relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours or Design Thinking workshops serve this purpose. The monthly newsletter also informs curious company representatives about current collaboration examples and events related to these cooperations.