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Free Electrons 3rd edition receives 481 applications

Thursday 28, February 2019

EDP is the founder of the worldwide program that received applications from startups from 60 countries, 21 of which are Portuguese. The winner will receive 200 thousand dollars in the final in Lisbon.

They have just closed applications for Free Electrons 2019, the first global program linking the most promising startups to energy giants. This year's edition received 481 applications from 60 different countries. The United States, with 64 applications, Germany with 30, and the United Kingdom with 25 applications, are the countries with the greatest contribution. But countries like Spain (24), Portugal (21), Brazil (20) or India (19) also have a strong representation.

18% of the applications are dedicated to the area of energy management, 14% to digital innovation, 14% are linked to energy production and 9% to the field of intelligent distribution networks.

This year, the program only had 10% repeated applications compared to previous years, which means that 90% of the applications are new. These numbers demonstrate that Free Electrons is turning into a truly global program, focused on the possibilities of developing projects and partnerships between companies around the world. Since 2017, it has received more than 1400 applications and already businesses have been developed that generated more than seven million euros, in contracts signed between the 27 startups and 10 utilities. 

In the case of EDP, one of the founders of this program, eight pilot projects were developed and investments were made in 4 startups, only last year. Together, the 10 energy utilities that are part of the program have together about 80 million customers and are present in more than 40 countries.


Digital transformation is coming to more and more industries, with the integration of digital technology in all areas of business, changing the way companies operate and deliver value to their customers. Free Electrons was designed to think about this revolution, but also to promote a cultural shift in the way big companies face the status quo, question current business models, and focus on new business approaches.

The startups chosen for Free Electrons gain notoriety in the United States, Europe and Asia through the program modules on these continents and through the contact with the utilities that are part of the program. Each module is developed to facilitate contacts and business opportunities between competitors and the electric sector giants, who develop projects, investments and other business relationships.

"We could not be more satisfied with the applications we received, with 90% of the applications being from new startups who want to participate in Free Electrons. We are attracting innovative and very interesting startups who want to change the energy sector", said Luís Manuel, EDP Inovação's manager.

Structure of the program

As in last year, the 2019 edition of Free Electrons will be divided into three world modules, the first in Columbus, Ohio, in May; the second in Hong Kong, China in June; and the third and final module will take place in Lisbon in September, where the winner will be known, who will receive the prize of 200 thousand dollars.

Companies participating in Free Electrons

The founding members of Free Electrons are Ausnet Services Australia), DEWA (Dubai), EDP (Portugal), ESB (Ireland), Innogy (Germany), Origin Energy (Australia), SP Group (Singapore) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (Japan). Since last year's edition, American Electric Power (USA) and CLP (Hong Kong) have joined the program. Free Electrons is supported by the Portuguese Beta-i.

For more information, visit: www.freetheelectron.com.