SET REPORT 2019-2021 Snapshot of the start-up energy ecosystem

The global energy sector is facing many emerging challenges. Arguably the most important and complex of these is addressing the sector’s contribution to climate change. It has also sparked the emergence of new businesses offering innovative solutions to enable the transition towards sustainable energy worldwide. The “SET Report 2019-2021: Snapshot of the start-up energy ecosystem” aims to highlight some of these businesses as well as key trends shaping the future of the sector. It also looks at the impact of the Start Up Energy Transition (SET) Award on its participants over the 2019 to 2021 period.

Analysing trends in different start-up ecosystems

The first part of the report showcases key similarities and differences between the start-ups in Energy and Mobility and those in other sectors. The analysis relies on the data collected from over 3,500 start-up ratings conducted by Early Metrics, a partner of the SET Award. The analysis showed that Energy and Mobility start-ups are generally more innovative and are able to secure more competitive advantages early on than the average. The quality of their management team is on par with the overall database average. However, they tend to struggle more than start-ups in other sectors when it comes to achieving their fundraising goals, growing their team and advancing their development roadmap at pace. Nevertheless, in absolute numbers, Energy and Mobility start-ups manage to raise more than start-ups in other sectors (€1.3m versus €910k raised on average within two years of the first rating).

Looking back at 3 years of SET Awards

The second chapter of the report focuses on the data collected through the applications to the SET Award between 2019 and 2021. The analysis showed that while the majority of start-ups applying came from Germany, the award attracted businesses from all continents, with a significant number from North America.

The most common business models reported were direct B2B sales, SaaS, indirect sales and subscription models. The start-ups applying had on average two founders and the majority had teams of up to 20 employees. To get a sense of the impact of the SET Award, a selection of winners from the 2019 and 2020 editions were interviewed (the 2021 winners had not been selected at the time of writing). The milestones reached since receiving their award are a testament to the quality of selection of this initiative and evidence of the strong potential for growth and innovation in the start-up ecosystem.

SET100: measuring the growth of the top 100 start-ups from the 2019-2020 editions

Lastly, the participants of the 2019 and 2020 editions of the SET Award were indexed in order to identify the top 100 start-ups in the cohort. Survival and growth following their participation in the award was then analysed. Among the key findings, 98% of the top 100 start-ups survived and 90% expanded to new regions or markets. On average, their teams grew by 150% and they raised €4.2m (excluding upper outliers). These impressive numbers show that the selected start-ups strongly outperformed the sector average, as seen in the first chapter of the report. The testimonials shared by past winners further showcased the positive impact that the SET Award and platform has had on their trajectory. The access to a high-quality network was cited by many as one of the key benefits of participating in the SET Award. The insights collected through this report show the importance of creating platforms for innovators to come together and connect with public and private stakeholders. The start-up ecosystem is a key source of innovative solutions for the energy sector, thus we are looking forward to seeing the SET Award being a stepping stone for even more game-changing businesses in the future.