Free Electrons 2019 final stop: Lisbon

About to complete its third edition, the program will kick off the Module 3 on September 16, in Lisbon – welcome to all the participants! 

Free Electrons is the first global energy startup accelerator program created to connect the world’s most promising energy startups with leading utility companies.


Free Electrons is a unique opportunity to bring global perspectives to local challenges via real, meaningful, face to face interactions. 

The Module 3 will be the peak of the interactions that have been developing since the 19 edition has started.

During their days in Lisbon, the 15 startups and 10 utilities will meet to align and define the next steps of their possible commercial agreements, once the program is concluded. They will also deep dive into the work that has been performed over the program between participant startups and the partner utilities, the pilots. 

By the end of Module 3, the startup winner is to be announced and awarded with the Free Electrons 19 World’s Best Energy Startup worth 200,000$. 

The Shin Akimoto Award, initiated in 2017 in memory of Mr. Shin Akimoto, will also be handled to the candidate that best impersonates the values of this award: 

  • is a Free Electrons Ambassador (has got the Free Electrons Spirit and pushes the program to succeed); 
  • is proactive and innovative (presents an anticipatory, change-oriented and self-initiated behaviour and embraces change and whether there is continuous improvement and innovation throughout the business); 
  • is people driven (always ready to help and collaborate with others, lifts everyone’s spirit up and brings good energy to the group).

As a truly global program, focused on deal facilitation and pilot driven, the program has been addressing and solving real problems, namely generating business, investment and disruption within the energy sector. 

In fact 2019 edition has originated a pipeline of 58 pilot projects so far,  among the 15 startup finalists and the 10 partner utilities – all utilities have found several innovative solutions that can be adopted and integrated into their businesses.

Setting the grand finale in places like Maat and Academia das Ciências, the Free Electrons welcomes all the participants to Lisbon, and couldn’t be prouder of what the program has been accomplishing. 


Free Electrons Module 3: 16 – 19 September 2019 


All is changing in the never slow mobility world


I confess that as a young girl I truly believed that by the time I turned 40 teletransportation will be a common way to avoid traffic jams. As the date is fast-approaching, and although teletransportation is still a mirage, I believe that we are evolving fast enough that transportation will no longer be a pain and, something that a young Joana never worried but now keeps me up at night, better for the environment.

As environment goes electric transportation is allowing us to keep moving without polluting the air with tons of CO2 per mile. Some Governments seem more committed than others in providing the conditions for the expansion of electric vehicles: Amsterdam has pledged to ban all gasoline and diesel powered cars by 2030 and is now offering charging stations to those moving to e-vehicles.

You know that e-cars are getting the hype when even the hard core collectors of vintage models are now adapting them with super eco-friendly Tesla motors.

Shared mobility is another big trend. As an epic road rager, I am a fan of not owning a car and only drive when I really, really must, using car sharing services and being a fan of uber. However, at Beta-i we always like to verify what customers really want of each product and in Japan Orix found out that youngsters are using shared cars as a place to crash and spend the night almost as much as they use them for moving around.

Finally, a trend I am most fan of: all the tricks and knowledge on how to get from point A to point B as seamlessly and fastest as possible. That is why I am a huge fan of Meep, one of the startups that participated in the first edition of SOL Mobility, and that allows me to choose the fastest, cheaper or more environmentally friendly way of moving around.

It’s not teletransportation, but sounds good enough for me!

“Being intentional about the future” – Interview with Lara Stein

While visiting Lisbon to (among other things) talk to the Beta-i team, Lara gave this quick interview to share a little more context about her new project, which can be seen in detail (and receive your input about how to get involved) at

After being Executive Director of Women’s March Global, Founder and former Director of TEDx and the TED Prize and MD of Global for Singularity University, South African Lara Stein has a brand new project of her own: BOMA, which in the coming days launches its own editorial platform.

The roots of the word “Boma” originate from Africa and are present in the languages spoken in the Great Lakes of Africa. The Boma was a circular venue for the community and its elders to gather together: a space for community meetings, meaningful discussions, and decision-making to define actions. It was this concept that Lara brought to the fore to position her new project as “a community without borders, identifying new ideas, innovations, and systems to design a more intelligent, intentional, and sustainable future.”

Here’s how our conversation with Lara went:

What motivated you to migrate from previous experiences like TEDx and Singularity to a new project?

The understanding that we live in complicated times. Of social and political changes, which amplify the context of change. I have spent the last two years making global moves to drive change, and I realized that many countries have common challenges and desires, while sharing a will to maximize results while still having a wider impact. And that’s exactly what we want to maximize with the BOMA project: creating value impact from a human-centred approach.

Having worked in three major networks, I was looking for a model that would not divide the world, but rather add up. Something decentralized and collaborative, with a network of people who share the same vision. That’s why I think my obligation to BOMA is to bring these people together and make a model that works overtime – and that’s more intentional and intelligent about the future and the actions that this future requires us to take. I believe in a global system with local partners.

Can you comment a bit more on the idea of “being intentional about the future”?

I feel that the general mindset still focuses on ‘survival of fittest‘. We do not want to maximize this; we want to leverage collaboration, being a movement where people come together and get organized to help and act on concrete things. Doing so, we want to help design leaders able to answer the unavoidable ethical questions that lie before us. I believe people want these principles: to exchange experiences and knowledge for the world we want to have.

It seems that BOMA has more to do with the consequences of technology than the pursuit of technological innovation as a way to thrive. Does it make sense?

Tech is a key drive, everything is around that. But the complexity lies in its transformation: technology alone is not the point of action, but rather the good use of technology, how it is being applied to increase shareholder value and the consequences of it. These are very complicated questions to be pursued by ethics: the consequences of our actions in the name of a “good outcome”.

What are the main goals to be achieved by the platform in this first phase?

In the coming days, we’ll launch our editorial platform on the BOMA website, with bottom-up change and empowering communities content. We are only 6 months old and always revisiting our KPIs, but I would like to have up to 15 or 20 country partners in the coming years, with bottom-up community events and projects associated with our lines of work that can gradually be developed by the partners themselves in each country. This is a long-term project because talking and acting on systemic change takes time.


Thank you so much for the visit, Lara!

Third time’s a (power) charm

This is arguably the most exciting Open Innovation Program for the Energy industry in the world. Free Electrons, now in its third edition, has conquered the reputation of contributing to significant advancements in the Energy industry and boosting the growth of the startups that participate in this global program.

Make no mistake, Free Electrons has been designed for greatness from the start. Three years ago, eight energy utilities from all over the globe (AusNet Services, DEWA, EDP, ESB, innogy, Origin Energy, SP Group and Tokyo Electric Power Company) joined forces in a consortium built to push the boundaries of the energy sector, in order to find better and more sustainable solutions. Last year, American Electric Power and CLP have joined the gang, and are now part of the mighty 10 brave utilities.

The track record is unparalleled, both by the innovation injected in the utilities and by the growth achieved by the startups that become part of the big Free Electrons family.

So it comes with no surprise that the third edition, that wrapped up its third module last week, is already set to break some very high Free Electrons standards.

During this last module, startups and utilities had the chance to present the first pilots, after the match that took place in Module 1, with an impressive 27 pilots announced. Startups solutions are now being applied to utilities business challenges.

While on the second module of the program, Utilities and Startups also, based on the progress made on the first pilots,  kicked off the development of new pilots and moved towards potential commercial agreements and/or investment contracts. Seven new pilots were announced by the end of Module 2, making the total of ongoing pilots of Free Electrons a mind blowing 41. 

Free Electrons Utilities and Startups will now continue to work on their remarkable solutions that will be presented in an open day in Lisbon, on September 19 at Academia das Ciências. Hope you can join us there!

Bluetech Accelerator Closes Bootcamp on High Tide

Bluetech Accelerator – Ports and Shipping 4.0 just wrapped-up its Bootcamp phase. Bluetech is an ambitious and innovative program looking to create a new batch of ocean startups and attracted startups from all over the world.

The Bootcamp

The Bootcamp, that occurred from 24th to 28th, is an intensive work week where startups and met for the first time with the partners.

The week started with a speech from Ana Paula Vitorino, the portuguese Ministry of the Sea, who inspired the entrepreneurs with the government’s vision of developing a new blue economy, that both uses ocean resources and protects its biodiversity and sustainability.

 After the first introductions, the startups received guidance from Beta-i’s team on how to build pilots in collaboration with the partners and spent their time meeting one-on-one with the partners.

This is an essential moment, where startups can dive into the partner’s business and discuss to find common goals and operations.

The Pilots Moving Forward

Of the 21 startups that joined the pilot, 15 have been chosen to move on to the pilot phase. They will be developing 23 pilots in partnership with the Bluetech Pioneers.

APDL, who administers the ports in the north of Portugal will be leading in the number of pilots – having 7 pilots being developed with several startups, followed by APS (ports in the south), with 5 pilots. These numbers clearly reflect the vertical being developed in this first edition – Ports and Shipping.

Smart Open Lisboa showcases real estate innovation pilots at Demo Day

Smart Open Lisboa (SOL), an open-innovation program connecting some of the most relevant players in the residential and commercial real estate sector with startups to implement innovative solutions in the city of Lisbon, had the Demo Day for its Housing vertical, today at Museu da Água.

The 14 startups selected for this phase in the program worked on 25 pilots in partnership with the big corporations involved in the program, that ranged from real estate companies to construction companies and to utilities.

An on-going process

After an intense Bootcamp, where startups and partners met for the first time and worked on collaborative pilots, the Demo Day showcased the work that partners and startups have been developing for the last two months and the first results of these collaborative pilots.

The different rhythms of these two types of companies and the matching of technology and processes make the experimentation become a journey – these are just the first results and plans, from which the teams can learn to keep perfecting the projects in the months to come.

Solutions for real estate

 The projects presented by the startups varied in range and style within the real estate and housing sectors: from testing the predictive maintenance of water leaks to the logistics and management processes associated with the food-court of commercial spaces. But they all added new layers into the partners’ businesses, for example:

  • Heptasense is working on identifying behaviors via surveillance cameras already installed in commercial spaces. Using Heptasense’s solution, it is possible to identify behaviors (without comprising the anonymity) of the users of the space. In this way, it’s possible for commercial spaces to identify theft in real time, and also qualify the spaces they offer and give them fair value.
  • Howz is working with social assistance from the Municipality to use their sensors in the homes of the assisted elderly population. The sensors examine behavior through electricity use, analyze patterns and notify the system in case of abnormalities. The system will allow for faster assistance in case of need, and the reduction of unnecessary emergency calls.
  • OneGrid, Meazon and Enerbrain are experimenting with partners in ways to measure consumption and identify over-consumption to take action and reduce costs in building management.

What all the projects have in common is that they all contribute to reducing inefficiency, making decisions based on accurate data and shift these companies to a more proactive way of managing.