Nine finalists in the 9th Entrepreneurs Fund's call for proposals30.06.2020
A total of 1,275 proposals were presented in the 9th call for proposals for Repsol Foundation's startup accelerator program, a 96% increase compared to last year (649). This accelerator is focused on technological projects aimed to energy transition.
The submission deadline was 4th March, which means that almost the entirety of the selection process had to be held online during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the Entrepreneurship Fund and the experts of Repsol were able to adapt its procedures in order to ensure quality throughout this phase, in which they analysed the proposals received in order to "get to know them better and select the ones we are more likely to help get to market," noted the accelerator´s team.
After reviewing each project, 32 startups were pre-selected for the innovation and viability of their proposals. This evaluation phase required intense work including numerous online meetings with the Entrepreneurs Fund team and Repsol´s experts in innovation, technology and new ventures.
After several months of intense analysis, nine startups will present their innovations for a jury in the 9th Entrepreneurs Fund's call for proposals. This jury will choose the teams that will eventually become part of the Repsol Foundation's accelerator program for energy startups.
Energy for the future
The Entrepreneurs Fund supports startups with innovative solutions that contribute to the process of the energy transition, a commitment made by Repsol and its Foundation. This edition has stood out for the quality of the initiatives, especially those focused on emissions reductions through carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technologies and the production and use of hydrogen, or efuels. Additionally, this year, several interesting proposals were submitted for improving the efficiency in the energy sector through the application of digitalisation and artificial intelligence.
The nine finalists chosen were:
- Aloxy (Belgium): IoT (Internet of Things) control of critical valves in industrial plants.
- Captive Systems (Italy): nanoparticles for eliminating heavy metals in industrial water.
- Eigen Control Inc. (United States): artificial intelligence applied to distillation operating units.
- EvoEnzyme (Spain): deterioration of plastics through selected enzymes.
- Green Energy Ventures (Brazil): hydrogen production from plastic waste.
- Opus 12 (United States): ethylene production from CO2.
- sHYp B.V. (the Netherlands): green hydrogen production from brine.
- UniSieve Ltd. (Switzerland): membranes for the separation of propane and propylene that would reduce energy consumption by up to 80% and associated CO2 emissions by 90%.
- Vertoro (the Netherlands): fuel production from lignin, a natural polymer found in wood.
A large percentage of the proposals were based on projects related to the field of energy and mobility, making up 49.9% of all proposals, or a total of 598.
The next most popular theme was for projects related with the circular economy, with 27.9% of proposals, or a total of 356. And thirdly were business projects focused on oil and gas efficiency, making up 20.8% of projects, or a total of 265 startups. And finally, the area of new materials made up 4.4% of projects for a total of 56.
The level of development of the projects received is also noteworthy. Forty-three percent have reached market validation, where they have already involved potential clients or are ready to include them in tests in order to refine and enhance the product or service offered. Thirty-one percent of the startups are in the development phase of the product or service, 16% are scaling their business model, and 10% are getting their project started.
This edition, startups are from 83 different countries, with 34% being Spanish. The other 66% percent of the proposals come from 37 European countries (32%), 18% from North America (13% from the United States and 5% from Canada), 6% from Latin America, 6% from Asia, and 4% from Africa. It's important to note the considerable increase in the number of startups from the United States, 175 total proposals, almost tripling the number received last year, which was 62. There was also a significant increase in proposals from Asia and Africa, making up a total of 125.
Support from the Repsol Foundation
In order to help them get their business project to market in the least time possible, Repsol Foundation offers up to 120,000 euros for a year to develop the product or service. This economic funding is accompanied by technical and business advising by a team of expert mentors. The Foundation offers this support without taking any equity or intellectual property.
In addition, one of the keys of this accelerator program is the access to Repsol professionals and the possibility of carrying out prototype tests in industrial facilities, being one of the most valuable aspects for entrepreneurs. As it is pointed out by Juan Miguel Pérez, CEO of Finboot, “through the support of Repsol Foundation, we not only had access to strengthen areas in which our team did not have enough experience, but also served as a bridge to Repsol as a company. That opportunity to validate our technology with an industrial giant in the midst of digital transformation has been invaluable to us and a key part of our growth.” Finboot was a company accelerated by the Entrepreneurs Fund, after that, they received an investment from Repsol Corporate Venturing and has become a supplier to the energy company with its Blockchain Blocklabs solution.