edp news

Free Electrons Program attracts 515 applications from 65 countries

Thursday 08, March 2018
Companies – Edp Portugal

USA(84 startups), Brazil (30) and India (29) are the biggest contributors

Applications for Free Electrons, the first global energy startup accelerator program that connects the world’s most promising smart energy startups with leading utility companies, just closed. The program received a total of 515 applications, from 65 different countries.

The United Startes, with a total of 84 startups, Brazil, with 30, and India, with 29, are the biggest contributors, but countries like Australia (24), Spain (23), United Kingdom (23), Germany (23) or Portugal (14) are also heavily represented. Israel, Ireland, France and the Netherlands all have more than 10 candidates.

If we look at the categories of the applications, 22% are dedicated to Clean Energy, 15% are focused on IoT & Digitization, 12% are looking into Energy Efficiency, and 7% are from the Smart Grids field. If we look at the applications by funding round, we find the bulk, with 17%, are in Seed stage. 2% are Series B, and another cluster can be found in Series A startups (14%) and Pre-A (13%). Series C and D represent 1% each. Also, if we break down the application by Funding Sources, we know that 56% are building on Own Funds, 31% are using Grants, and Friends & Family are a resource for 29%. Angel Investment takes 24% of the share, and Venture Capital the remaining 17%.

“We are very  happy with the outcome of the applications process. We got 515 applicants, that’s 64 more than last year, a 15% increase. Equally impressive is the fact that we got applications from 65 countries, which compares with 50 last year. We’ve also noticed that more than 70% of the companies apply because they want to develop their business and not only looking for investors. This shows that the program is increasing its awareness and that it’s globally recognized has a key scale-up opportunity in the energy space. Big numbers, very good indicators of startup quality and 9 progressive utilities who are eager to make business happen with the cohort. We’re really excited about Free Electrons 2018! ”, says Luis Manuel, Executive Board Member at  EDP Innovation.

“Free Electrons is all about harnessing potential and generating innovation, while learning in that process! This is a great opportunity for utilities from 8 different geographies to come together and create something unique, tapping into the power that startups are already generating in several different industries. For us, it’s a unique chance to demonstrate, yet again, our vision of how innovation will stem from partnerships between startups & corporates, and how it will become the new normal”, comments Manuel Tânger, Co-Founder & Chief Open Innovation Officer at Beta-i.

EDP is a co-founder of the accelerator, which now includes 9 electric utilities from around the world. The other founders of Free Electrons are Ausnet Services (Australia), DEWA (Dubai), ESB (Ireland), Innogy (Germany), Origin Energy (Australia), SP Group (Singapore) and Tokyo Electric Power (Japan), with the program being supported by Beta-i (Portugal). American Electric Power (USA), is also joining the 2018 edition.


Three international modules held across the globe are the cornerstone of Free Electrons. During the course of the program participants will work closely with local players, utilities, mentors and other resources in order to accelerate their company’s growth. 

After this stage, a one week Bootcamp will be held in Lisbon (Portugal) from April 3rd to 6th. The 1st Module will take place, in Sydney an Melbourne (Australia). The 2nd Module will take place in Silicon Valley (USA), with the final stage moving to Berlin (Germany), in October.

The utilities backing Free Electrons are leading innovation in the energy sector. This project is a testimony of their commitment to work together with startups in building the future of the sector with clean, smart and widely accessible energy. 

Free Electrons 2017, the first edition, generated an overall financial value of contracts signed between the 12 startups and the 8 utilities of about 2 million dollars, with a pipeline of ongoing opportunities surpassing 12 million dollars.

About Free Electrons:

The Free Electrons Program is the best opportunity for startups in the energy space to grow and develop their businesses. The energy market has seen rapid changes in recent years with the rise of renewables, decentralization of the energy system, regulatory uncertainties and disruptive new technologies. To stay ahead, there is a strong need for utilities to source more innovation externally and consider the ‘beyond utilities’ business models.