Irish company crowned world’s best energy start-up at Free Electrons

Irish start-up KelTech IoT has been recognised as the world’s best energy start-up at the Free Electrons competition finals today (11 November), the first Irish start-up to achieve the feat since its launch in 2017.

Free Electrons is a global accelerator programme for start-ups in the clean energy space sponsored by ESB. The third and final stage of the competition was hosted in Dublin between 9 and 11 November, where start-ups pitched their ideas to an alliance of global utilities.

Mark Kellett, managing director of KelTech, said that the company was “incredibly proud” to be the first Irish start-up to win Free Electrons. “The grand finale event hosted by ESB has been a great way to end this year’s competition,” he said.

“We are now looking forward to continuing to work closely with partner utilities to bring our ideas to life that we hope will help power a more sustainable world.” KelTech primarily focuses on the property technology market with its Internet of Things (IoT) products.

KelTech will now receive a $200,000 in funding and gain access to global mentors as well as companies with a direct-market channel of 70m customers in 40 countries. The call was opened in January this year, looking for companies that can accelerate the adoption of clean energy.

‘Role model’

Emerging victorious among an applicant pool of more than 3,000 start-ups from almost 100 countries, KelTech’s innovative communication and energy networks proved popular with the judges, and it will now work with utility companies to develop new ways to reach customers.

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“The high-quality pipeline of innovation, new technologies and learnings that were on display throughout this year’s programme will help advance clean energy initiatives around the world,” said John McKiernan, head of innovation pipeline at ESB.

Along with ESB, sponsor utilities include American Electric Power, Energias de Portugal, and Singapore Power. The 2020 programme received more than 850 applications from 86 countries. Since its launch in 2017, Free Electrons has led to €50m being signed in commercial deals.

Austin Bryan, senior director of innovation and ventures at Hong Kong-based electricity company, called KelTech “role models” for open innovation distribution. “This unique proposition brings telecoms and power together in a unique physical manner,” he said.

Seven start-ups from Ireland have attended Free Electrons bootcamps or mini modules to date, including Carlow’s Xenotta, Dublin’s GridBeyond and Waterford’s Sedicii. In 2018, Limerick start-up Gridwatch made it to the top 15.

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