13-Jun-2022 - Fraunhofer-Institut für Offene Kommunikationssysteme FOKUS

Plug and Play Kicks Off Hydrogen-Focused Startup Accelerators

Plug and Play is a global innovation platform that aims to build an ecosystem where game-changing startups meet the world’s leading corporations

Plug and Play Tech Center announced a new initiative focused on hydrogen by launching the H2 Startup Accelerator program. It’s one of the world’s first hydrogen-centric startup accelerator programs that will initially be operated out of Hamburg with support of Fraunhofer ISE and Fraunhofer FOKUS.

In the new hydrogen economy, there’s momentum being made worldwide with more and more countries developing national hydrogen strategies and establishing partnerships to collaborate on hydrogen-related projects. It’s clear that collaboration is key for realizing the potential of the hydrogen transition, as building up and to scale its value chain requires coordination amongst policymakers, entrepreneurs, corporations and investors.

The H2 Startup Accelerator program can be a vehicle to foster the necessary dialogue and cooperation to accelerate the development of a hydrogen ecosystem in Europe and beyond.

“Join us in building an ecosystem of change-makers who are interested in shaping an innovative hydrogen ecosystem in Europe and beyond…we will run innovation programs twice a year, connecting the world's best startups with the most innovative corporations through networking, events, world-class mentoring, and potential for investment,” said Sallar Faridi, Director of Plug and Play Hamburg. Plug and Play is a global innovation platform that aims to build an ecosystem where game-changing startups meet the world’s leading corporations to develop the advancements and technologies of tomorrow.

The platform will be supported by the Fraunhofer Institutes for Solar Energy Systems ISE and Open Communication Systems FOKUS in the field of hydrogen technologies and energy transition, digital transformation, and innovation management. The main task of the science partners is to conduct an in-depth assessment of submitted business ideas including the identification and closing of technology gaps within the pilot projects with partners.

“The H2 Startup Accelerator is a crucial element to bring innovative technology into utilization and an ingenious opportunity for startups to advance their technology and business model. We, as Fraunhofer, are pleased to support and push this forward-looking initiative with our scientific know-how and broad experience. Especially, the field of green hydrogen is currently one of the most exciting research areas and will be one of the key pillars toward a carbon-free economy. Therefore, we are convinced that this innovative program will open up great opportunities for startups, corporates, and society,” said Henrik Czernomoriez, Head of Innovation Management, Fraunhofer FOKUS.

On April 8, 2022, the first batch was kicked off with initiating partners Shell and Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI, along with the founding members City of Hamburg and Phillips 66/JET.

“The next 10 to 20 years will be definitely exciting in the field of hydrogen, and young people with bite, technological and economic know-how will have many opportunities. The H2 Startup Accelerator will be an initiative to bring the most interesting and innovative start-ups in the hydrogen sector together. Because we need new and creative ideas to succeed with the energy transition,” said Fabian Ziegler, Managing Director of Shell Companies in Germany.

The purpose of the program is to connect hydrogen startups from all over the world with corporate partners and other stakeholders to pilot and roll out their technologies. The goal is to create an open innovation and startup ecosystem connecting the northern German and European regions to the global hydrogen economy. The platform will serve as the interface between research, industry, and other institutions and represent a homeport for the inception and development of startups and their technologies.

Neva Espinoza, EPRI Vice President of Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources, said, “Accelerating low-carbon, hydrogen technologies is an essential part of achieving global net-zero targets by 2050. EPRI looks forward to engaging with the startup community in Europe to support economy-wide decarbonization.”

Experienced industry players will be an instrumental pillar of the platform, who, according to their respective hydrogen strategies, will collaborate with these startups across a multitude of areas. In addition to their industrial know-how, corporations will provide access to the necessary infrastructure to test, pilot, and scale new technologies in the following areas:

  • Transportation
  • H2 Fueled Combustion
  • Fuel Cell Applications
  • Storage
  • Carbon Capture
  • Compression
  • Production
  • Solid Oxide Electrolysis
  • Alkaline Electrolysers, and more

"We are very pleased that Plug and Play, together with internationally renowned players such as Fraunhofer, EPRI, and Shell, have chosen Hamburg as the location for the new H2 Startup Accelerator. With the target to establish the infrastructure for a green hydrogen economy by 2030, Hamburg is one of the global trailblazers of this cutting-edge technology. Due to the concentrated expertise along the entire value chain and the proximity to some of the most powerful renewable energy regions, Hamburg is the perfect place to develop new business models for sustainably produced hydrogen," said Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg's Minister for Economy and Innovation.

Plug and Play will act as the operator of the platform and serve as a bridge to international innovation, VC, and startup ecosystems around the globe.

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