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.