November 14, 2017
Posted by Beth Hartman, Electric Power Research Institute
The Accelerate Energy Summit October 31 – November 2 in Shanghai brought together leading clean energy incubators and accelerators from all over the world, discussing strategies for supporting entrepreneurs leading the transition to a more sustainable global economy. The event was organized by New Energy Nexus, in collaboration with the EPRI Incubatenergy Network, the World Bank, the World Wildlife Foundation, and the Asia Development Bank. With over 90 participants from 66 organizations across 21 countries, the event was a truly global gathering of clean energy innovators.
After kicking off with a round of introductions on the first afternoon, the networking dinner featured a fireside chat with Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund and Dr. Shi Zhengrong, Founder of Suntech Power. The next day, the group was welcomed to Changyang Campus by the district mayor, and spent the morning discussing trends in clean energy acceleration. Challenges such as funding, policy and technical support were met with solutions such as creative financing models, strategies for influencing policy makers, and methods for combining strong technical founders with business expertise.
In the afternoon, a series of TED style talks presented on clean tech topics including Blockchain, an overview of how utilities are working with startups from the EPRI Incubatenergy Network and the Free Electrons program, and a landscape of energy innovation ecosystems in China, Africa and Egypt. The day concluded with presentations from Mobike and Envision, and a pilot proposal for clean energy incubator data gathering from the Cleantech Group CEO Richard Youngman. Right after the Mobike presentation, the group got to go outside and ride around campus on the company’s bright orange dock free ride sharing bikes, which have gone from zero to 7.5 million deployed in just one year.
On the final day, the group participated in a book sprint exercise which involved incubators and accelerators interviewing each other to share best practices in funding models, building mentor networks, and more. The detailed information collected will be shared with the group in a field guide designed to facilitate continued sharing of best practices in clean energy incubation around the world. Finally, the meeting ended with a collaborative unconference session in which participants shared final ideas on topics of continued interest like funding models and working with utilities.
The group also had the opportunity to do some sightseeing in downtown Shanghai, walking along the riverfront and enjoying the lights of the skyline at night after dinner on the final evening. Overall, the setting in Shanghai was very inspiring and impressive, as China takes an increasingly strong leadership role in driving the global clean energy transition forward.