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Jobs for NSW and UTS launch renewable energy accelerator EnergyLab

Record-high temperatures were seen in NSW over the weekend, creating conditions described as “catastrophic” for firefighters as over 90 bushfires raged around the state. All this came just a few days after Treasurer Scott Morrison brought into Parliament last week a lump of coal.

With this, it seems fitting that EnergyLab, Australia’s first accelerator program focused on developing the renewable and advanced energy sector in NSW, should launch this week.

With $120,000 in funding from state government body Jobs for NSW, the EnergyLab accelerator is a 12 month program developed with Climate-KIC Australia aiming to help startups with new products or services become market-ready.

To be housed at the Blackfriars School House at the University of Technology Sydney’s Chippendale campus, the program will give startups $50,000 in seed funding. Eight startups will take part in the program over the next year, in two intakes.

John Barilaro, Deputy Premier of NSW, said the development of renewable and advanced energy will help drive the creation of new businesses and jobs for the future.

“The energy industry is changing rapidly providing a huge opportunity for research, new technologies, businesses and jobs in renewable and advanced technology,” he said.

“The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates jobs in the cleantech sector could reach 24 million globally by 2030, up from 8.1 million currently, and we want NSW in on this industry growth.”

Piers Grove, cofounder and executive director of EnergyLab, added, “This is an exciting step up for the cleantech startup community in Sydney. Being able to offer industry specific support in this vibrant community will help position Sydney as a go-to market for innovation and opportunity.”

With the Jobs for NSW grant to enable the fit-out of the coworking space and first-year operation costs of the accelerator, EnergyLab will have capacity for up to 60 people; according to Jobs for NSW, it has been set a target to create up to 76 direct jobs each year in the cleantech sector.

This will come with the expertise of Climate-KIC, a public-private partnership launched in Europe in 2010 as one of three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The network helps to create new partnerships across research, business, and technology to help push cleantech innovation.

170 startups in the Climate-KIC network have raised a collective €189M in external funding between 2012 and 2015.

Christopher Lee, CEO of Climate-KIC Australia, said the organisation brings “a European experience to the table” but looks forward to offering a program that is “distinctly Australian and relevant in an Asian context” with EnergyLab.

The launch of EnergyLab comes a few weeks after New Zealand startup agency CreativeHQ announced Lightning Lab Electric, an accelerator program focused on businesses working across the areas of electricity and sustainable energy.

The 12 week accelerator will follow on from an Innovation Challenge looking for ideas, prototypes, and developed products relating to the sector, split across the tracks of consumer solutions, network solutions, and the future grid.

You can learn more about EnergyLab here. The program is set to kick off in April.

Image source: renewableenergy.org.au





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