Minister Woods meets with energy innovators from the Orion Accelerator

As the clean energy revolution gathers speed, the future of New Zealand’s energy economy is being reshaped from the ground up. 

Earlier this year, Orion Group partnered with the Ministry of Awesome and Ara Ake to launch an energy accelerator programme that unleashed Kiwi energy startups to the forefront of this transition towards a vision of a new, low-emission national power paradigm. 

The Orion Energy Accelerator is a launchpad for clean energy innovations to solve global energy challenges and power a cleaner and brighter New Zealand. Over ten weeks, resident experts have worked closely with future-thinking Kiwi energy startups on commercialising ideas and clean energy innovations across power grids, energy storage methods, E mobility and EV charging, energy-saving homes, and commercial construction. The accelerator is based out of Te Ōhaka – the startup and innovation hub which is a joint venture between Ministry of Awesome and Ara Institute of Canterbury whose Research and Development teams have added to the overall expertise available to the startup teams.  

Each of the startups in the programme will present at the upcoming Demo Night on 28 October. Two startup teams will receive the Orion Startup Grants worth a combined $25,000. Suitable startups will have the chance to work with Orion as a customer or partner with potential for equity investment from a pool worth up to $100k from Orion.  Selected startups will also have the opportunity to bring Ara’s technology and engineering talent into their startups for additional expertise and product development. 

On Friday 17 September, an Energy kōrero was organised at Te Ōhaka – the Centre for Growth and Innovation at Ara to engage with the startup finalists following the lockdown in August. The project teams were pleased to host Hon. Dr. Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources at the event which also offered her the opportunity to meet with each of the startups and learn about their innovative energy ventures. 

Minister Woods expressed her support of the programme stating that, “There’s quite a lot of work we’ve got to do in terms of decarbonizing our broader energy system, and it’s the ideas and thinking of innovators and entrepreneurs that I’m so happy that we’re seeing unleashed onto this problem.

“The future of our energy system is not only decarbonized, but it’s also digitized and at the heart of it sits innovation, so I congratulate Orion for really pushing this through here in Christchurch.”

The event allowed startup founders to briefly share their work with Minister Woods and gain insight into MBIE’s wider roadmap in steering towards renewable energy.

Friday’s event featured one of the 10 accelerator projects, Bleuie. Designed by Loxley Innovation, Blueie is an electric tractor utility platform with grid support capability, aiming to optimise energy use on farms and smallholdings

Marian Johnson of Ministry of Awesome expressed that accelerators like the Orion Energy initiative are an optimal opportunity for larger organisations to lean into the innovation and breadth of capability across the NZ startup ecosystem.

“When New Zealand’s corporates and larger organisations lean into the startup ecosystem as an external innovation engine, everyone benefits. The more mature organisations can share their expertise and provide immediate customer and product validation.  The startups can solve problems identified and develop their innovations alongside first customers.  In this way, we have so much more efficiency than when each organisation is working on individual innovations on their own.”

For more information about the Orion Accelerator Programme and Startup Finalists visit: https://www.orionaccelerator.nz/