Categorized | Business, Energy

Energy Excelerator looking for 14 local startups

By Denise Laitinen | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator is seeking 14 energy startup companies from Hawaii and the mainland to participate in its upcoming cohort.

As part of the mentoring program, the excelerator will provide $5 million in funding and mentorship to help the startups bring their ideas to market.

Of the 14 companies selected for the program, Excelerator directors are looking for 8 in the seed stage and 6 in the growth stage.

Seed-stage startups will be matched with mentors and awarded $75,000 to strengthen their business models and go-to-market strategies.

Growth-stage companies will receive up to $1 million, which must be matched by private funding, to demonstrate their solutions in an early market.

Startups with solutions that help solve Hawaii’s two main energy challenges: integration and resilience are strongly encouraged to apply.

In particular, Excelerator leaders are seeking technologies and business models that advance clean energy across the whole system in the areas of grid, transportation, agriculture, and water.

Technologies and business models that build security and flexibility into Hawaii’s energy systems are also encouraged to apply for the cohort. This includes both near-term physical security and long-term economic security technologies.

Because the Energy Excelerator program is dedicated to helping solve the world’s energy challenges, both in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific region, companies that can be scale technologies and business systems on a global level are also encouraged to apply.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the energy excelerator is part of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, (PICHTR), a Hawaii-based non-profit that helps spur technology development in the Pacific Rim.

Founded in 1983, PICHTR has been working to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on oil. Eight years ago, after the state adopted a goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030, PICHTR launched the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture to help fund energy innovation with $9 million of support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Realizing that startup energy companies needed mentoring and access to strategic connections in addition to funding, PICHTR launched the Energy Excelerator in January 2013 with an additional $30 million in funding from Navy’s Office of Naval Research.

Big Island energy startup firms have been garnering a lot of attention in recently. Last year, Acclimate TN, Physical Tech Inc., based in Captain Cook, was the only Big Island company selected from across the country to participate in PICHTR’s Lightning Excelerator, the state’s first clean energy business accelerator program.

Acclimate TN’s project included developing innovative technology to efficiently harvest thermal energy from solar panels.

Earlier this month, Kona-based Ikehu, won the first-ever Demo Day held on the Big Island and was selected to pitch at the inaugural Maui Startup Weekend.

Ikehu’s Drive System provides incentives to residential customers of utilities to reduce power consumption during peak and critical times. In addition to being named a Top 50 Startup in 2012, the Big Island startup secured a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in 2013.

The Energy Excelerator will start offering online info sessions about the cohort application process starting May 30 and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. June 30 at 5 p.m.

The applying companies will then go through a three round selection process with the final 14 companies selected Sept. 15.

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