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Australian startups operating in the energy sphere are being invited to apply for Free Electrons, a global accelerator program allowing startups to work collaboratively with industry on new products and services.

The program will see the 12 chosen participants will take part in workshops across Silicon Valley, Lisbon, Dublin, and Singapore across a period of six months, each comprised of a specialised module aimed at helping them explore opportunities in the region.

The program, which will not offer seed equity funding but rather pay travel and accommodation costs for participants, is backed by a consortium of global corporate partners.

Joining Australian energy companies Origin and AusNet Services in backing the program are the likes of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Singapore Power, and European company Innogy; the companies serve a combined 70 million customers in 40 countries across the gas and electricity spaces.

The program will be managed by the New Energy Nexus, which has received backing from the California Clean Energy Fund to help develop clean energy innovations, and Swissnex San Francisco, which looks to help facilitate collaboration across the fields of education, research, and innovation.

Anthony Lucas, Origin Energy’s executive general manager of future energy and business development, called the program a “world first” in providing startups the opportunities to work closely with leading utilities companies across the world.

“By leveraging the expertise of partners involved, we are confident great outcomes can be achieved for the industry and for our customers,” Lucas said.

“Each of the utilities involved share a commitment to innovation and working collaboratively to transform the energy market. Sharing our experiences, concerns and insights is already proving invaluable as we all aim to address similar problems.”  

Applicants to the program must have a working prototype of their product, with the aim of the program to give participants opportunities to run pilot projects and test their products with the partner utility companies.  

Chad Hymas, executive General Manager for Commercial Energy Services for AusNet Services, said, “Australians are innovative and resourceful, and we want to see the best local ideas and entrepreneurs get a global kick start.”

The combined effort of the utility companies in launching the accelerator program reflects a growing trend of corporates looking to help startups grow through not only investment, but the backing of accelerator and incubator programs, coworking hubs, hackathons, and other events.

As they look to ward off disruption, many industry insiders predict that 2017 will see more corporates flocking to support the startup space than ever, with companies seeing the value of collaborating with innovators to further develop and expand their own offering.

You can learn more about the Free Electrons program here.

Image: Wind Energy. Source: CleanTechnica.