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Plug and Play Kicks Off Hydrogen-Focused Startup Accelerators

News from June 09, 2022

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. To join the program or for more information visit the website.

About Plug and Play

Plug and Play is a leading innovation platform, connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, we're present in 35+ locations across five continents. We offer corporate innovation programs and help our corporate partners in every stage of their innovation journey, from education to execution. We also organize startup acceleration programs and have built an in-house VC to drive innovation across multiple industries where we've invested in hundreds of successful companies including Dropbox, Guardant Health, Honey, Lending Club, N26, PayPal, and Rappi.

H2-Ready by 2030 – Europe’s Hub for Green Hydrogen

By 2030, Hamburg will be providing the infrastructure for a functional hydrogen economy. In combination with its own hydrogen import strategy, Germany's second-largest metropolis is thus creating the prerequisites for supplying green hydrogen to industry and basic material production around the Port of Hamburg. Furthermore, Hamburg introduces itself as an emerging location for green hydrogen in the heart of Europe and presents solutions along the entire value chain for green hydrogen. A recent OECD study confirms that the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is particularly well suited for the development of a green hydrogen economy. The region offers unique locational advantages to produce renewable energies and a high potential for the purchase of green hydrogen – especially from local industrial companies. The surrounding area of Northern Germany thus plays a key role in meeting the climate protection targets and achieving the energy turnaround in Germany. Numerous factors contribute to this: from the highest generation capacities for onshore and offshore wind power and underground formations for hydrogen storage to seaports with logistics and import terminals for green hydrogen and synthetic energy carriers, experienced maritime companies, and research institutes with scientific expertise in the field of innovative energy carriers. Industrial companies with a very high hydrogen demand potential complete the value chain, positioning Northern Germany as an ideal European location with bright prospects for the future.

About Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft based in Germany is a leading applied research organization. Prioritizing key future-relevant technologies and commercializing its findings in business and industry, the organization plays a major role in the innovation process. A trailblazer in innovative developments and research excellence, it helps shape our society and future. Founded in 1949, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft currently operates 76 institutes and research units throughout Germany. There are over 30,000 employees, predominantly scientists, and engineers who work with an annual research budget of €2.9 billion. Fraunhofer generates €2.5 billion of this from contract research. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has many years of experience in the field of hydrogen technology and energy transition. The Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS has extensive digitization skills and expertise in the field of innovation management.