New Energy Challenge

The New Energy Challenge

The New Energy Challenge (NEC) provides an annual open innovation competition that connects promising global startups and scaleups in the energy sector with stakeholders to accelerate the decarbonization of energy systems.

Jointly organized by Rockstart, Shell, Unknown Group and YES!Delft, NEC offers a platform for cutting-edge innovators to develop emerging technologies that promote sustainability and shape the future of the energy sector at scale.

All finalists will be given the opportunity to connect with investors and experts, unlocking the knowledge, contacts, funding, and support needed to scale their business and help them to drive change in the energy system.

Who can participate?

In this year’s eighth edition, the NEC is seeking global emerging technologies that promote regenerative agriculture, have a positive impact on nature, and support sustainable use of land and resources. Additionally, we are interested in technologies that can leverage waste, agricultural or otherwise, as a feedstock for biofuels development, thereby reducing waste while also contributing to renewable energy production. More specifically, the challenge is focused on companies delivering solutions in the following areas:

  • Agriculture encompasses solutions that support the production of food, clean air, water and soil such as bio-based fertilisers to increase yields. It also includes enhanced agroforestry and rice management, as well as oil crops with a low carbon intensity, proteins, and genetically engineered crops.
  • Carbon utilisation refers to the process of capturing and utilising carbon dioxide in the upstream agriculture value chain. Some examples are enhanced rock weathering and microbial weathering and bacteria.
  • Cleaner energy sources (such as biofuels) that less polluting and lower in carbon intensity than traditional fossil sources.
    • Biofuels encompasses solutions related to renewable energy sources derived from plants or organic matter. This includes lipids from sustainable waste feedstocks such as insect oils and cultured fat, microbial oil (e.g., from micro algae, yeast, fungi, bacteria) but also pre-treatment/upgrade technologies for waste oils. Biofuels also include oily / fatty / lipidic industry by-products, waste streams from food or post-consumer recovered waste oils.
    • Further lowering carbon intensity through value adding biochar applications in biofuel feedstock production or including other organic non-fossil sources.
  • Digital solutions include software solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability, such as for energy management to reduce the emissions from urban farms, but also novel tracking systems to manage full waste supply chains.

Benefits for Entrepreneurs

The finalists will join a variety of workshops and training sessions during an exciting accelerator programme. They will work with investors and experts during this final phase of the challenge, unlocking knowledge, contacts, and support needed to develop their company and product. The winning companies may be awarded a collaboration or funding to further scale their business.


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