2018 SET Award: the energy solutions of the future

Smart ideas: how start-ups are competing for the most promising innovations of the future.

Three kids wearing handcrafted robot gear.© iStock/Andrew Rich

Bringing about the future of electricity, heat and mobility is a tough nut to crack. So it’s a good thing that we have quite a few superheroes working for us: around the world, start-ups are developing innovations to transform our energy supply and combat climate change. They are testing new inventions and business models, designing storage units and cooling systems, and using smart devices and smart grids. They want to transform the way we generate and consume energy – not only today, but in the long term. But which innovations are the most promising? And which ideas will really revolutionise the energy sector?

‘Start Up Energy Transition’ (SET) is a global platform for energy transition innovation. It was launched at the initiative of the German Energy Agency (dena) and receives funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

This year again, start-ups are competing for the best ideas as part of the annual SET Awards. A total of 18 ideas in six categories have made it to the final round of the competition. This year’s finalists come from 13 different countries, and include Coolar UG, Motion Tag and Skeleton Technologies from Germany.

Coolar cooling systems uses heat to run refrigerators for medical supplies in regions where there is no regular electricity supply. Motion Tag has developed a virtual ticket for public transport that can be used across different cities. This means that if you visit a new city, you no longer have to familiarise yourself with the local fares. Skeleton Technologies produces ultra-capacitors – an energy storage solution with an extremely long lifetime – for industrial use.

A list of all of the finalists and their projects can be found here.

An overwhelming response from innovators

Once again, the competition has met with a strong response this year. More than 400 start-ups from around the world submitted their projects, with most of the projects coming from Germany, India, the US and Canada.

A jury made up of leaders from the energy and climate sector has evaluated the submissions and selected the projects for the final round of the competition by looking at the following questions: What makes a particular idea unique? What is the start-up’s motivation for developing a particular innovation? How likely is the idea to be used in practice?

What happens next?

On 16 April 2018, the finalists will present their projects live on stage at the SET Tech Festival. Investors and companies from the energy sector will listen to the presentations and scrutinise the start-ups’ ideas.

This close dialogue benefits both sides: start-ups are given the opportunity to meet investors and business angels, whilst established companies can expand their cooperation with the start-up scene, receiving new input and creative ideas. This may even lead to new cooperation projects being launched between the two sides.

The winners of the 2018 competition will be decided on 17 April 2018 and receive their awards during the evening ceremony held as part of the 2018 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD).

This year’s competition is supported by Canada – which serves as the partner country for the event – and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. More than 100 partners from the worlds of politics, business, science and NGOs are part of the initiative.