What does energy company EDF offer start-ups?

Providing a collaborative way of creating new products and services

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and start-ups.

A good example of…

Rejuvenating corporate culture

European headquarters: Paris, France

Geographical reach: UK, France, Ireland, US (New York, San Francisco), Japan, Israel, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, Singapore

Sector/s of interest: Energy and smart city services

Works with start-ups through:

  • The EDF Pulse Awards, a competition with a €300,000 prize currently open to European start-ups working in the following areas: smart home, low carbon city and e-health
  • A dedicated open innovation team within EDF’s R&D department
  • A €90m investment fund, Electranova Capital, founded by EDF and IdInvest
  • A dedicated website to give visibility to EDF Pulse candidates: edf.com
  • Partnerships with other accelerators such as Numa, which specialises in innovation
  • The EDF Energy Blue Lab, an accelerator to develop innovative customer services, based in Brighton in the UK
  • EDF Pulse and You and EDF Connect, two digital platforms to connect start-ups with customers and other companies

Why does EDF work with start-ups?

Energy company EDF works with start-ups to help implement new methodologies and technologies in various fields, in particular, the new energy and environmental technology sectors. EDF also works with start-ups to rejuvenate corporate culture and innovate its brand.

How does EDF work with start-ups?

With a dedicated team of 20 people sourcing start-ups to collaborate within Europe, Asia and North America, EDF offers young companies mentoring, resources, exposure, marketing and technological support.

EDF’s investment fund Electranova Capital (founded in partnership with IdInvest) has backed seven start-ups. These have created products including new generation batteries (Forsee Power), radars and lidars to implement wind turbines offshore (Leosphere) and IoT networks and Machine-2-Machine (M2M) services (Actility).

Meanwhile, the EDF Pulse Awards helps start-ups to gain greater visibility through offering a €300,000 prize and communications campaign. The awards are currently open to European start-ups working in the following areas: smart home, low carbon city and e-health.

What has EDF done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

A dedicated open innovation team, within EDF’s R&D department, is responsible for sourcing start-ups in Europe, Asia and Northern America. It meets and values these, and organises ‘demos’ between start-ups and business departments.

The previous three EDF Pulse Awards have supported 600 early-stage companies, which have been analysed by 25 experts (specialising in areas such as new energy, mobility, public lighting, innovation, health and communications) and voted on by the general public. The themes of the awards are adapted each year to reflect new trends in the energy sector – something that allows EDF to target the most up-to-date and relevant innovations.

To increase its impact, EDF has partnered with accelerators such as NUMA to help bring start-ups into the company. EDF has also opened its new research and innovation centre in Saclay, outside Paris, and is working on another site in Les Renardières to create a ‘multi-energy house’, where technological innovations – from smart radiators to heat pumps – can be tested.

Success story: Echy

The 2014 EDF Pulse winner Echy created a product that enables the sun to light a windowless room.

EDF enabled Echy to showcase its product at EDF conferences, innovation events and the corporation’s 70’s anniversary exhibition, and also provided an advertising campaign.

 

“The Open Innovation team has done a great job. EDF is very supportive of startups and offers mentorships, resources and cash prizes, as well as essential exposure and PR to help startups to gain visibility.”

Dolf Wittkamper, Corporate Startup Stars judge

 

What can other corporates learn from EDF about working with start-ups?

  • PR and communications support are important to start-ups, as well as financial support, and can be something that is provided as part of an awards initiative
  • Adapting the themes of start-up awards to reflect new industry challenges and opportunities is important to stay competitive and produce timely, innovative and commercial products
  • Partnering with other organisations and accelerators magnifies the impact of awards and initiatives in a way that benefits all parties involved

What is EDF looking for from the startups it works with?

EDF is interested in start-ups working in the following areas of the energy sector: low carbon mix, integration of renewable energies, electric systems, low carbon services, smart grid, smart factory and smart mobility.

EDF focuses on start-ups in development that can offer a proof of concept or a prototype. It is also looking for promising teams and breakthrough technologies.

How can start-ups get involved with EDF?

For more information on the EDF Pulse Awards, click here.

For more information on EDF Connect, click here.

For more information on EDF Energy Blue Lab, click here.

To contact the Open Innovation team, please email Christophe Reinert at christophe.reinert@edf.fr.
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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.

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