The past 2 weeks have been huge for the Energy Excelerator. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and DENSO joined the Office of Naval Research, the US Department of Energy, the Hawaii State Energy Office, and Hawaiian Electric Industries in partnering with the Energy Excelerator.
The Energy Excelerator supports innovative energy solutions with up to $1 million of nearly non-dilutive funding to demonstrate their technology in Hawaii’s real world test bed. Investors, both private and public, are seeking new ways to vet companies and fund innovation. Partners see the program as an extension of their due diligence process when working with innovative companies. “The Energy Excelerator is unique because it enables startups that can solve tomorrow’s energy and transportation challenges to vet their technologies in a real-world test bed,” said Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures at DENSO International America.
The Energy Storage — Transportation Nexus
As Tesla makes itself known in the energy storage market, partnering with SolarCity and announcing plans for its battery factory, the energy storage, grid, and transportation markets have converged. Global automotive supplier, DENSO, has recognized this and is partnering with the Energy Excelerator to help accelerate the commercialization of technologies in this nexus.
“In addition to DENSO’s extensive internal R&D efforts, DENSO is also very committed to fostering and supporting external innovation in key areas such as transportation and energy efficiency,” adds Cannestra.
The Energy Excelerator’s portfolio includes 4 transportation and 5 energy storage startups, including Stem and Ambri. FreeWire, an Energy Excelerator company, is a perfect example of how transportation, specifically EVs, help the electrical grid. The company’s first product, the Mobi Charger (pictured below), is a mobile EV charger and energy management system that can also help balance the grid.
Read more about the Energy Excelerator – DENSO partnership on the Energy Excelerator’s blog.
Where Investors Become Community Builders
Entrepreneurial ecosystems often thrive in areas where there is an abundance of investment capital, Silicon Valley being the most prominent example. In Hawaii, a new and unique community of “investors” is helping to spur growth in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Let’s take the Energy Excelerator for example: investments from the US Office of Naval Research (ONR), US Department of Energy (DOE), Hawaii State Energy Office, Hawaiian Electric Industries, and now DENSO and Blackstone have created a public-private partnership that is supporting a portfolio of 32 companies that have raised over $55 million of follow-on funding since 2013. Each year, the Energy Excelerator selects 15 startups to add to its portfolio from a pool of over 250 applicants.
“These partners are not just logos on a website; they are actively involved in the success of our companies and the growth of our ecosystem,” says Dawn Lippert, Director of the Energy Excelerator. “They’re partnering with our companies and each other to vet solutions in Hawaii’s real-world test bed.”
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, founded by the global investment and advisory firm Blackstone, awarded the Energy Excelerator $100,000 to further build a community of entrepreneurs oriented toward transforming our energy system.
“Through our Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Foundation is committed to strengthening and supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems globally through programs that enable the most promising new companies to remain and grow in their local economies,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.
Read more about the Energy Excelerator – Blackstone partnership on the Energy Excelerator’s blog.
The ability to leverage public funding to raise private capital and secure customers is critical to the success of an early-stage company. The Energy Excelerator continues to seek strategically aligned program partners, investment partners, and the best entrepreneurs to build the energy systems of the future.