How does joining Free Electrons help a startup?
By joining Free Electrons, startups will have the opportunity to test their solution with 10 global energy utilities. Each interaction is designed to facilitate ongoing conversations between startups and utilities to refine value propositions, seed pilot projects and explore investment opportunities. To date, The Utilities in the Free Electrons program have spent $20+ million in startup pilot projects.
What stage startup are The Utilities looking for?
The Utilities support a variety of startups at different stages. Typically, the startups applying for Free Electrons have already raised money, have pilot ready solutions and have created a working prototype.
What is the selection criteria the startups are assessed against?
The Utilities look for:
- The quality of the startup team, including relevant experience and a mix of complementary skills (business and technical)
- The quality of the product/solution, particularly how innovative and unique it is, whether it provides a competitive advantage and whether it can be easily replicated
- A clear articulation of the type and size of the market that is being targeted
- A clearly defined business model
- The fit of the startup with the needs of The Utilities and the structure of the Program
How does a startup apply to Free Electrons?
Free Electrons has its own application form on F6s.com. You can apply via the external link here or go directly to F6s.com and select the “Apply to Accelerators” link at the bottom of the page, then type “Free Electrons” in the search bar.
To start your application process you will need to login or create a new account on F6s.com using your LinkedIn account, Facebook profile, or email address.
It typically takes a couple of hours to complete your application.
Please note, once your application has been submitted, The Utilities will be able to review immediately. Any edits made subsequent to your initial submission are unlikely to be reviewed.
What happens when the application is submitted?
Once a startup has submitted their application, The Utilities and their subject matter experts will review the submission. The program will be in touch with startups that present the best fit to arrange for the startup to attend the Bootcamp module for a series of one to one meetings with The Utilities.
At the conclusion of Bootcamp the successful startups will be invited to join a series of three, one week modules around the globe. During these modules, startups work closely with The Utilities, local accelerators and mentors to refine their company’s solution and explore options to jump start their company’s growth.
When will a startup know if they have been successful in their application?
Applications for the 2020 program close on the 31st January 2020. We aim to notify the startup at least 4 weeks prior to Bootcamp, to allow for travel arrangements. Visa assistance, all flights and accommodation are covered by the program.
I’ve been invited to apply for Free Electrons, what does this mean?
It means you’ve either intrigued us or have been recommended to the program by The Free Electrons network. There is no obligation to apply for the program.
How is a startup’s IP treated by the Free Electrons members and other program partners?
The program and all participants take intellectual property (IP) very seriously and understand that startups often have varying levels of protection for their IP. Question 20 in the application form allows you to explain where you are along the IP journey. If you make it into the program and project with one or several of the utility members, you may need additional non-disclosure agreements to protect your IP (the utilities may also require one for their own protection). These agreements are signed on a case by case approach; this is usually a fairly simple process that all utility members are experienced in and follows generally accepted market practices on IP protection.
Do the Free Electrons Utility Partners take equity in startups participating in the program?
Free Electrons is not an accelerator program and thus, unlike conventional accelerators for startups, we do not ask for equity in your business in order for you to participate and obtain all of the benefits of the program.
However, should one or more of the Utility Partners be interested in investing and the time is right for your business, this is certainly a possibility and a valued outcome for many startups.
Will the program help with VISAs?
Free Electrons will provide logistical assistance and support throughout the visa process.
Are flights and accommodation provided as part of the program?
Yes, flights and accommodation are provided by the program.
What happens during the program?
The program focuses on enhancing each part of a startups business over the course of one year. Startups gain an immense amount of experience through hands-on interactions with The Utilities, connections to extremely targeted industry insiders, and exposure to investors.
Startups will participate in 1:1 meeting with utilities, pilot/project scoping and execution, pilot pitches and business proposition presentations, receive guidance on how to refine their solution and given fundraising and investment opportunities.
Free Electrons concludes with a pitch day and a celebration, where startups will also have a chance to showcase their business to an audience of external investors, partners, mentors and the local ecosystem – one startup will be awarded $200,000USD – no strings attached.
How long is the program?
The program lasts the course of one year, with approx. 14 days abroad. Many startups and utilities continue to work with each other beyond the program.
Does a startup need to attend all four modules?
Yes, it is a condition of a startup accepting a place in Free Electrons that twoc-level employees of the startup be present at each module.
The experience of the program is the only way to fully leverage the program’s extensive network for the startup to immerse their team in the program and engage in-person with the full ecosystem of mentors, partners, investors, and other program startups.
What happens after the program?
Startups and utilities often go on to continue to work together beyond the program. Startups that attend the program become part of the Alumni, which provides continued access to a global ecosystem of The Utilities, other startups, founders and mentors.
What happens for startups that apply but don’t get to join the program?
Even if startups apply and don’t get selected, the application will be viewed by The Utilities and their subject matter experts. Sometimes a solution is just not a fit for right now, this is not to say it won’t be in the future – Free Electrons encourages all applicants to re-apply the following year.
We’ve applied to a previous edition of Free Electrons, are we still eligible to apply in 2020?
Yes, absolutely! If you have applied previously, we suggest you clearly outline what you have achieved since your last application so that The Utilities can adequately assess the progress you’ve made.
I’m a business interested in partnering with Free Electrons, is there someone I can speak with?
Free Electrons is always interested in exploring collaboration opportunities within the innovation ecosystem. If you are interested in being involved in the program please submit an enquiry on the contact page.
Got more questions?
Get in touch with Free Electrons by visiting the contact page.