Iberdrola on the hunt for network innovations in new start-up challenge

Global utility group Iberdrola has launched a new start-up challenge programme in a bid to identify new innovations aimed at the energy sector.

Iberdrola’s Start-up Challenge is the first in a number of planned competitions tasking innovators and the UK’s thriving start-up community to pitch ideas that can either tackle the growing climate crisis or help mitigate against the impact of severe weather events on power grids.

Alternatively, the firm said it was also interested to hear about technologies capable of recovering networks in the wake of a storm.

Armando Martinez, director of Iberdrola’s networks business, said that more frequent and intense weather events triggered by climate change posed a “real challenge” for electricity network operators.

“Companies like Iberdrola are always innovating and improving processes, and we also studiously monitor and assess emerging technologies. However, we are sure that there will be concepts currently brewing in labs and on whiteboards that could end up being global game-changers.”

In launching the Start-up Challenge, Iberdrola has joined a growing list of energy companies to seek the help of the start-up community in tackling certain and specific issues. Innogy’s Innovation Hub and Centrica’s Innovations Labs have both been established to funnel investments into start-up companies, while 2019 has perhaps been defined by the trend for M&A.

Iberdrola’s competition is open for registrants now and companies are invited to register until 30 June. Entrants will be assessed by Iberdrola, and the winning project will be given the opportunity to carry out a pilot project with the assistance of Iberdrola’s in-house resources and market knowledge.

Should the pilot be a success, the utility will incorporate it into its suite of maintenance tools and the winning company will be offered the chance to become one of Iberdrola’s suppliers.

Austin Delgado, chief innovation and sustainability officer at Iberdrola, said: “A great idea on paper can become a core part of day-to-day business operations quickly with the right support and guidance. We will help to take successful ideas in to a pilot stage, and then onwards towards a full supplier agreement. Ultimately, a concept that improves our processes could end up being sought after by electricity network companies the world over.”

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