Microsoft, Shell, Gasunie, and Volksbank team up with Rockstart to expand the Smart Energy ecosystem

13 APRIL 2017, AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Summary
The investor ranks of Engie, ČEZ group, DOEN Participaties BV, and informal investors have now been joined by Shell Technology Ventures. Gasunie, de Volksbank, and Microsoft are providing sponsorship and numerous in-kind and engagement investments to support the Smart Energy accelerator.

Rockstart, one of Europe's first multi-vertical startup accelerators, is teaming up with four new corporate partners from several relevant industries in its fourth Smart Energy acceleration program starting next week. Their engagement will help support emerging startups that are creating new and innovative ways to advance the global clean energy transition through Internet technology.

This year’s accelerator program’s focal points are autonomous grids, secure intelligence, game-changing business models, and transition enablers. To startups, this kind of corporate engagement and support provides important benefits, including local validation as well as assistance with global scaling.

“I'm convinced that connecting Smart Energy startups with established industry players will accelerate the transition towards a decentralized, decarbonized, digitized energy system," said the Smart Energy program director Freerk Bisschop. “We’re matching startup innovation with corporate muscle power that’s built upon domain expertise, access to market, and financial stability. I’m impressed that our partners are ready to invest in potentially disruptive business models using IoT connectivity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in devices, buildings, industries, cities, and grids.”

Cross-industry collaboration

The investor ranks of Engie, ČEZ group, DOEN Participaties BV, and informal investors have now been joined by Shell Technology Ventures.

“After a thorough review of the European accelerator landscape, we have concluded that Rockstart very much stands out amongst their peers,” said Shell Technology Ventures general manager Geert van de Wouw. “Startups in the digital (smart) energy space for both residential and industrial applications will help the world’s transition to a sustainable energy supply.”

As partners, Gasunie, de Volksbank, and Microsoft are providing sponsorship and numerous in-kind and engagement investments to support the Smart Energy accelerator. The diversity of these companies demonstrates the important intersections between energy, IT, and finance.

“Making progress towards a sustainable future requires the engagement and ingenuity of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes and in all locations around the world,” said Caroline Phillips, director, developer experience and evangelism, Microsoft Netherlands. “As a once small technology startup ourselves, Microsoft has a deep appreciation for what entrepreneurs need to grow and scale their great ideas into a sustainable business. We’re pleased to not only sponsor the accelerator but to also have the opportunity for our developers to collaborate directly with participants doing this important work during sessions focused on business development, data analytics, and the Internet of Things.”

The clean future

In the conventional energy industry, startups are often looked at as the disrupting force that wreaks havoc in the corporate ranks. At the same time, however, the more visionary players increasingly recognize that the innovation brought by the newcomers is the future of the whole field, and supporting and empowering them is an important task.

Wout de Groot, director organization and strategy at Gasunie, agrees: “This partnership allows us to get linked to a new, non-traditional way of thinking, to get inspired and to actively contribute to the development of new energy solutions.”

This also accounts for de Volksbank: “Working with startups that have a major focus on sustainability enables us to find and apply new solutions together. The collaboration with Rockstart will help de Volksbank’s brands, ASN Bank, BLG Wonen, RegioBank and SNS, to realise their shared ambition to achieve a carbon neutral balance sheet by 2030,” said Mirjam Verhoeven, innovation director of de Volksbank.

The Smart Energy Accelerator program also receives continued investment from DOEN Participaties BV (co-founder with the City of Amsterdam), corporate investors Engie and CEZ Group, as well as several informal investors. Furthermore, the program is continuously supported by knowledge & network partners Accenture, Elevate, Wintertaling, PNO, and Amsterdam Smart City.

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About Rockstart

Rockstart, one of Europe's first multi-vertical startup accelerators, was founded in Amsterdam in 2011 with the goal to support startups the first 1,000 days of existence. Since then, Rockstart has become the specialist in building entire ecosystems around specific domains—such as Digital Health and Smart Energy. Rockstart is actively building up entrepreneurial infrastructures around the world with its acceleration verticals, as well as early-stage startup programs, Rockstart Impact and Rockstart Launchtrack programs. Since its inception, Rockstart has invested in 108 startups across 11 programs and supported them in their journey to raise more than €44 million and hire more than 550 people. Rockstart is a team of 40+ professionals dedicated to support and empower startups to become scalable and change their world for the better.

Spokespeople
About Rockstart

Rockstart, one of Europe's first multi-vertical startup accelerators, was founded in Amsterdam in 2011 with a goal to provide startups with access to the market, capital, knowledge, and community. Since then Rockstart has become the specialist in building entire ecosystems around specific domains—such as Digital Health, Smart Energy, and Artificial Intelligence. Rockstart is actively building up entrepreneurial infrastructures around the world with its acceleration verticals, as well as early-stage startup programs, Rockstart Impact and Rockstart Launchtrack. Since the inception, Rockstart has invested in more than 100 startups and supported them in their journey to raise more than €45 million and hire more than 600 people. Rockstart is an international team of 40+ professionals dedicated to support and empower startups to become scalable and change their world for the better.

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