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Back to Press Releases 13 January 2021

Irish energy start-ups encouraged to participate in global accelerator programme

  • Successful start-ups will take part in seven-month programme with mentorship from nine global utilities including ESB
  • Winning company will receive $200,000 and opportunity to bring their product or service to worldwide market
  • Ireland to host final of prestigious programme from November 9-11, 2021

13 January 2021

ESB is encouraging Irish energy start-ups to apply for a coveted spot on the 2021 Free Electrons programme, the world’s first global utility accelerator that gives entrepreneurs access to a panel of innovative energy companies with a direct market-channel to 70 million customers in 40 countries.

It is planned, depending on Covid-19 restrictions, that this year’s programme will have a mix of physical and virtual offerings where start-ups will receive the support of technical experts from utilities, to refine their offerings and introduce their innovative products and services to new markets in Europe, USA, Middle East, Far East and Oceania.

The sponsor utilities – including ESB – are seeking to collaborate with start-ups that have developed low-carbon enabling technologies and related customer friendly services to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in all aspects of our lives.

Following the application process, 30 companies will be invited to the initial Bootcamp event in Dubai this May (may be hosted online in line with Covid-19 restrictions). Following this, 15 companies will be selected to participate in mini modules in Lisbon and Hong Kong with the final taking place in Dublin from 9 to 11 November 2021.

Last year, 857 start-ups from 86 countries applied for the programme while more than $50 million in commercial deals have been signed since it first commenced in 2017.

To date, seven Irish technology start-ups have participated in the bootcamps or programme modules including Xenotta from Co Carlow, Sedicii from Co Waterford and Grid Beyond from Co Dublin.

Speaking about the benefits of this programme, Denis O’Leary, Innovation Manager at ESB, said:“Innovation is at the heart of all we do at ESB and is key to transitioning to a low-carbon future. The Free Electrons programme offers us the opportunity to work with the world’s best start-ups and, in turn, helps them refine and create customer and industry focused energy solutions. As a founding member of this initiative, ESB is proud to once again host a module event later this year where we can showcase the best of Irish innovation and industry. I encourage all energy start-ups to apply for this programme and we look forward to working with them on this exciting journey.”

During the programme, start-ups refine their value proposition, trial and test technology and gain access to invaluable resources, advice and support from around the globe. During the 2021 programme, ESB signed three pilot projects with Ripple Energy, a UK based start-up, Fos4X/Polytech from Germany and Portuguese start-up, Tesselo.

The deadline to apply for the programme is Sunday, 28 March 2021.

For further information about the Free Electrons programme, please contact John McKiernan, Head of Innovation Pipeline at ESB at or visit


Media Enquiries: Grainne Burns, / 087-9536640

About ESB

ESB operates across the electricity market: from generation, through transmission and distribution to the supply of customers with an expanding presence in the Great Britain generation market. In addition, we extract further value through supplying gas, energy services and using our networks to carry fibre for telecommunications. ESB is the owner of the distribution and transmission networks in the Republic of Ireland (via ESB Networks) and Northern Ireland (via Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd).

ESB contributes almost €2 billion annually to the Irish economy through dividends, investments, taxes and jobs. ESB provides significant employment both directly, with over 7,800 employees, and indirectly through contractors and service providers.

About Free Electrons
Free Electrons is the global energy start-up accelerator programme that connects the world’s most promising start-ups with leading utility companies. Free Electrons is backed by an international alliance of utilities and accelerators including: AusNet Services (Australia), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dubai), ESB (Ireland), EDP (Portugal), innogy, Origin Energy (Australia), Singapore Power (Singapore) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (Japan). Read more about ESB’s involvement here: