Sustainable Energy

Amsterdam incubator gives clean energy start-ups a helping hand

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Amsterdam incubator gives clean energy start-ups a boost

Start-ups brimming with bright ideas are becoming increasingly important in the field of sustainable energy. And Amsterdam's "global start-up machine" Rockstart has devised a scheme which places selected small companies bursting with killer energy ideas in an 180-day long accelerator program.

"What we do with Rockstart is we try to connect people… connect entrepreneurs to people who can support them," Rune Theill, co-founder of Rockstart, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

Rockstart's smart energy program looks to draw on the experience of more than 75 "smart energy mentors, investors and energy partners." Ten startups are selected, and in exchange for 8 percent equity, each one is offered a cash investment of 20,000 euros ($20,662), as well as an "in-kind" investment into benefits such as office space and hands on support from mentors.

"Our smart energy program is a program that accelerates start-ups from all across the world to become investable and scaleable, working on energy solutions, making use of IT, mobile data, connectivity, etc," Freerk Bisschop, who leads the smart energy program, said.

Once a start-up has finished the program, they can gain access to an alumni program that offers support and advice on a range of topics, including fundraising, marketing and legal services.

"Shortly after the program, they often find their first investor, that puts money in their organisation and allows them to grow," Bisschop said.

Sylvain Sonnet | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

"We stay involved, especially in helping them to get a good deal with their investor, and finding the right connections to build their business further after the program," he added.

One alumni from the program is MagicView, which is looking to transform urban mobility with ideas including rideshare and parking solutions to PennyWise, a ticketing system which enables transport users to hop on and off public transport without needing to "check in or check out" of their trip.

Being part of the accelerator program has proved invaluable to the business.

"We came here with the idea of organizing cleaner, better reachable cities, and that's still there, but the way we do it is totally different… more practical, more down to earth, more business like," Philip van Houtte, CEO of MagicView, said.

A key idea behind the Rockstart scheme is to ensure that start-ups are equipped with the skills and contacts to flourish and thrive.

"Ninety percent of all start-ups fail and we can increase the chance of them succeeding by connecting them to people who've done it before… and connecting them with people who have a large network to potential clients (and) investors," Rune Theill said.