NEC meets… RIFT

RIFT was one of the top 10 finalists of the New Energy Challenge 2021. We asked them how they experienced participating in the NEC.

RIFT (Renewable Iron Fuel Technology) was created to transform energy intensive industries (district heating, industrial processes, and electricity plants) into clean and circular energy users. The company implements iron fuel technology by using iron fuel as a circular process in which iron powder is used as a medium for energy storage.

In what ways did taking part in the New Energy Challenge (NEC) shape your business?

Start-ups sometimes struggle to know what to communicate and how when it comes to their value proposition. During the NEC expert sessions, where the finalists get the chance to receive feedback on their value proposition from experts within Shell and the NEC partner organisations, the mentors asked us questions that we couldn’t answer at first. We had known for a while that we would need to tackle these challenges in the future, but the NEC forced us to confront them in the here and now. Answering these tough questions enabled us to bring new knowledge to the following conversations we had with investors and partners. The NEC taught us how to communicate the right things at the right moment. And it gave us insights into what a corporate company like Shell wants to see and hear.

What would your advice for future participants be? 

  1. Be really open about what you don’t know. When talking to the NEC experts, it’s important to figure out not only what you already have and know but – more importantly – what you don’t know and need to figure out via the NEC. Remember: if your company was perfect, you wouldn’t be in the NEC. It’s not just the prize money that’s useful – the critical expertise the NEC offers is equally important.
  2. Figure out how you can best use the NEC to help reduce your business risks before going into the programme. The NEC can really help you lower your business and technical risks, but only if you are ready to discuss the weaknesses of your business. Be vulnerable here!

 Why did you apply to The New Energy Challenge?

We joined the NEC because we knew it would offer a wealth of expertise. We also thought Shell would be an interesting partner who could strategically invest in and help us. So, we joined the NEC to understand their requirements to partner with them in the future. So, for us, the NEC served as a method of information-gathering, and improving our business through critical feedback.

Which aspect of the whole challenge was memorable for you?

The expert sessions were the most memorable part of the NEC for us because this is where the experts raised the challenging questions. When you’re in the sessions, you feel a bit defensive about being questioned so much – but this was the thing that helped us advance our business the most following the NEC.


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