Humanising the energy transition: Diversity, creativity and InnoEnergy start-ups

July 17, 2019

The sustainable energy transition demands new ways of thinking as was discussed in our Humanising the energy transition: Diversity and creativity as sources of innovation blog. And to foster that innovation, we need a place for diverse thinkers, doers and makers across the world of green energy and sustainable power to share their knowledge and expertise. That’s the thinking behind The Business Booster (TBB) event in Paris, France, from 3-4 October 2019. It brings together 800+ attendees from over 40 countries: start-ups, energy industry representatives, financial communities, policy makers and regulators.

TBB is about real opportunities for those in the sustainable innovation world: to meet investors, find partnership opportunities, increase your brand awareness and discover new, cutting edge solutions to enhance your product portfolio. And it’s a place that recognises the best ideas happen when we bring a diverse group of people together.

Energy from waste

The green energy industry needs female leaders, in particular, and InnoEnergy is currently supporting 25 female-led start-ups. At this year’s TBB, you can meet some of these stand-out female founders, who will be pitching and available for networking throughout the two days. Below we introduce you to two of them:

Marisa Hernandez and her two co-founders, who pitched at the Business Booster in Copenhagen last year, started sustainable technology firm Ingelia in 2007, from scratch. Their plan: to turn biowaste into biomaterials far more efficiently. Organic waste is usually composted or digested. But these processes traditionally come with high operating expenses (OPEX) and the compost produced doesn’t usually comply with EU specifications.

Ingelia is different. Its hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) technology is a fast and simple method, taking just eight hours to recover 95% of carbon from organic waste, sludge, digestate, green and food waste, and turn it into hydrochar. The hydrochar can then be used for further applications in the bioeconomy: Ingelia provides HTC technology (engineering and equipment) to waste managers, municipalities and food and drink industries.

Big potential

The potential of both the process and the company is huge: 250m tons of organic waste goes to landfill every year, which could make 50m tons of hydrochar. And the last ten years have seen Ingelia attract €11m worth of investment, gain 14 international patents, and win ten international awards. The company now operates four plants in Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Hernandez says that many people ask how such a small company can experience such success. The answer: collaboration. “The secret is that we have built up a knowledge community around the project. We have been working together with scientists, investors and clients and raw materials providers, so we had all the input to take the right decision in the last ten years.”

Off the grid

Theresa Steininger, who also pitched at the Business Booster last year, is also a fan of collaboration and knowledge-sharing in the sustainable innovation sector and beyond. She’s the CEO and co-founder of Wohnwagon, which provides innovative, off-grid solutions for self-sustained living – water, green energy and heat all year round. Its flagship product, a tiny house, integrates sustainable and independent living in just 33m2. Everything from the toilet to the wifi is produced sustainably.

“We were really angry about the way the building industry today works,” she says. “We build loveless houses from catalogues, insulate them with plastic and supply them mostly with fossil energy. The building industry is responsible for 40% of resource consumption.”

Build the future

To scale their solutions, the company has three arms: building, consulting, and an online shop where they sell different modules to implement their sustainable innovation solutions. Thanks to InnoEnergy, they were able to close a financing round for €700,000, to be used for internationalisation and scaling. They are now looking for partners from the building industry to help get their solutions implemented and take sustainable and independent living forward.

“We want to have an impact on the building industry of tomorrow,” says Steininger. “We don’t want to stop at flagship projects. We want to multiply them and make it easy for other people to implement those solutions in their project. All the solutions are there – so let’s build the future.”

The next blog will be available soon. In the meantime, keep track of The Business Booster updates by following #TBB2019 on our social media channels, and don’t forget to register for the event before 31 July to get your 30% discount.

Photo credits: Wohnwagon website: