Start-up strat­e­gy adopt­ed: How dena now sup­ports start-ups in the ener­gy sector

With a strat­e­gy for the start-up sec­tor, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is tack­ling improved frame­work con­di­tions for busi­ness start-ups. Two projects of the Ger­man Ener­gy Agency (dena) are part of this start-up strat­e­gy — and thus sig­nif­i­cant­ly pro­mote the start-up scene in Germany.

Philipp Richard, Head of dena’s Dig­i­tal Tech­nolo­gies and Start-up Ecosys­tem Busi­ness Unit: “Start-ups are often idea gen­er­a­tors and devel­op­ment dri­vers in the trans­for­ma­tion of the ener­gy sys­tem. Their foun­da­tion there­fore has a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for the econ­o­my and soci­ety. How­ev­er, when a start-up is found­ed, it is not all about financ­ing; the first pri­or­i­ty is gen­er­al ori­en­ta­tion. This is where we as dena can pro­vide sup­port through the SET Hub and FEL: By offer­ing infor­ma­tion, coach­ing and net­work­ing. We help start-ups iden­ti­fy reg­u­la­to­ry obsta­cles ear­ly on so that they can steadi­ly and smart­ly devel­op their busi­ness mod­els. I call this approach dis­rup­tion and evo­lu­tion. It not only ensures scal­ing poten­tial, but also improves their financ­ing conditions.”

SET Hub pro­vides guid­ance for ener­gy startups

Since 2020, dena has been sup­port­ing start-ups in devel­op­ing their inno­v­a­tive busi­ness mod­els and solu­tions for the ener­gy tran­si­tion with its SET Hub pro­gram. In the mean­time, more than 100 start-up teams have been coached on the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work of the Ger­man ener­gy sys­tem in sev­en region­al work­shops and vir­tu­al meet­ings, the so-called SET Acad­e­mies. In SET Men­tor­ing, an indi­vid­ual con­sult­ing pro­gram last­ing sev­er­al weeks, 30 promis­ing start-ups have been sup­port­ed to date. With the SET Net­work, the pro­gram also offers a strong net­work of found­ing teams and part­ners. The pro­gram was expand­ed at the begin­ning of 2022 to include the SET Think Tank and SET Pilots mod­ules. In doing so, the SET Think Tank aims to involve start-ups in con­sul­ta­tion process­es and dis­cus­sions on the fur­ther devel­op­ment of the reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work. In the SET Pilots, four pilot projects are being imple­ment­ed that are advanc­ing the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the ener­gy tran­si­tion through tech­no­log­i­cal advancements.

The Future Ener­gy Lab: Test­ing dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies for the ener­gy industry

With the Future Ener­gy Lab (FEL), dena 2020 has cre­at­ed a cre­ative space at the Tier­garten S‑Bahn sta­tion in the cen­ter of Berlin where dig­i­tal and ener­gy indus­tries come togeth­er. There you will find com­mon rooms and work­places where founders can exchange ideas with spe­cial­ists and indus­try play­ers in order to fur­ther devel­op project ideas and busi­ness mod­els. Based on dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies such as blockchain, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence or smart meters, the pilot lab also tests new tech­nolo­gies as well as reg­u­la­to­ry approach­es under real con­di­tions. Ten projects have already been launched and are being fur­ther devel­oped on an ongo­ing basis. These include projects on arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence in the pow­er dis­tri­b­u­tion grid, on the decen­tral­ized use of renew­able ener­gies in ener­gy com­mu­ni­ties, or on the intel­li­gent use of gen­er­a­tors and heat demand fore­casts by algorithms.

“Start-up spir­it and inno­va­tions are a deci­sive fac­tor for achiev­ing the cli­mate goals. With the SET Hub and FEL as part of the Ger­man gov­ern­men­t’s start-up strat­e­gy, we will be able to pro­vide even more tar­get­ed sup­port for start-ups in the future,” says Philipp Richard.