Solar startups win big at shark-tank style event

29 October 2021 at 8:28 am

Two energy companies focused on very different parts of the solar industry won at the inaugural Orion Energy Accelerator pitch event hosted virtually from Christchurch last night.

On a night out of the set of TV’s Shark Tank, ten startups took the virtual stage to pitch their concepts to a group of energy industry experts.

Christchurch charity Empower Energy claimed the ‘Impact Award’ for its work targeting energy poverty through a new solar sharing scheme. Napier based RedPhase took the $15,000 ‘Most Innovative’ prize for its groundbreaking work making New Zealand’s solar panels more efficient.

CEO of Empower Energy, Michael Fitzgerald, says the grant will mean more people living in energy poverty will have a chance at a helping hand.

“This grant will help Empower Energy support both the climate and the community. We have so much work to do, so it's exciting to see that others recognise how important reducing Aotearoa’s energy poverty is,” said Fitzgerald.

CEO and founder of Red Phase, Robert Turner says the prize will be a game changer for his business.

“Six months ago Red Phase was just something sitting at my house, but the accelerator has seen us go from 0 to 100%. We want to drive change in the electricity world, and this kind of recognition will help amplify this change,” said Turner.

Orion Head of Customer and Communications, Paul Deavoll, whose company along with Ara Ake and Christchurch’s Ministry of Awesome devised the event, says that the event’s success is testament to the value startups can bring to some of the knottiest issues facing New Zealand.

“In very different ways, RedPhase and Empower Energy have shown that not only is New Zealand innovation alive and well, but that it can provide meaningful answers to our most pressing problems.”