A growing global community We are very proud of our strong and growing community of ambassadors, sponsors and network partners

Our Patron

Brigitte Zypries Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy

(Photo Credit © Susie Knoll)

“Energy transition is a global challenge. It leads to a comprehensive modernization of our society. It is about more than an efficient use of energy and a larger share of renewable energy. We regard energy transition as a great chance for innovative ideas and small firms. Therefore, the Start Up Energy Transition Award is especially dedicated to young entrepreneurs. We want to encourage innovation, support risk taking and inspire entrepreneurial spirit.

Start-ups transform innovative ideas into successful business models. They create employment and stimulate the economy. Successful start-ups in this field also contribute to the success of the global energy transition. Without them, we will not be able to reach the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to encourage you to present yourself and your idea to our jury and connect to decision makers from politics, business and civil society.“

Our Ambassadors

Adnan Z. Amin Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Mr. Amin has over 25 years of experience in international environment and sustainable development policy, as well as in the political, management, and interagency coordination functions of the United Nations (UN). Mr. Amin has held senior positions in the UN, including as Head of the UN System Chief Executive Board for Coordination Secretariat, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Executive Director of the Secretariat of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence. He is currently a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.

Dirk Ahlborn CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. (HTT) and Founder/CEO of JumpStarter Inc.

Founded in 2013, HTT designs and builds the most highly profitable, fastest, safest, and environmentally friendly transportation system for passengers and goods. HTT utilizes JumpStarter’s crowdfunding and crowd collaboration platform JumpStartFund and is thus able to leverage technology and a 480+ team of global experts to bring disruptive innovation to the traditional transportation industry. Hyperloop first gained public interest when entrepreneur Elon Musk published a white paper describing a futuristic mode of transport that would transport people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes. Musk handed the concept to the public and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies rose to the challenge.

Dr. Christoph Beier Vice-Chair of the GIZ Management Board

Photo by: GIZ/Paul Hahn

Christoph Beier has written numerous articles and publications on development policy issues. He also holds a number of honorary posts and is a member of the Senate of the National Academy of Science and Technology (acatech) as well as of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy at Ruhr-University Bochum and the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval). He was appointed a key expert on ‘Germany in the Eyes of the World’ by the German Chancellor as part of her 2011-2012 Dialogue on Germany’s Future and in 2014, by the Bertelsmann Foundation, to the Board of the Bertelsmann Transformation Management Index.

Fatih Birol Executive Director of the International Energy Agency IEA

Fatih Birol became the Executive Director of the IEA on 1 September 2015. Dr. Birol has been named by Forbes magazine among the most powerful people in terms of influence on the world’s energy scene. He is the Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s (Davos) Energy Advisory Board and serves as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on 'Sustainable Energy for All'. He is also the recipient of numerous awards from government, industry and academia. He previously was the IEA Chief Economist and Director of Global Energy Economics, with responsibilities that included directing the Agency’s flagship World Energy Outlook publication, which is recognised as the most authoritative source of strategic analysis of global energy markets. He is also the founder and chair of the IEA Energy Business Council, which provides a forum to enhance co-operation between the energy industry and energy policy makers.

Pati Ruíz Corzo Director of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda

Martha Isabel Ruíz Corzo is a Mexican conservation activist responsible for achieving Biosphere Reserve status for the Sierra Gorda (Mexico) under an exceptional public-private co-management system. Her success comes from her innovative approach to finding sustainable development solutions for poor communities that are often burdened with the costs associated with conserving nature. Through Pati's efforts, they are now environmental service providers and derive part of their livelihood from protecting local ecosystems. She won the UNEP Champions of the Earth award for Inspirations and Action in 2013.

Patricia Espinosa Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Patricia Espinosa Cantellano is a Mexican politician and diplomat with more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations. Fighting climate change and encouraging sustainable development has been one of her main ambitions. In May 2016, she was selected by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Christoph Frei CEO & Secretary General, World Energy Council

Christoph Frei became the World Energy Council’s Secretary General & CEO in April 2009 where he has led the further development of the world-renowned London-based organisation by strengthening its policy and business insight processes, including the Council’s on-going World Energy Scenarios, Issues Monitor and Energy Trilemma flagship studies. He is a founding member of the Energy Web Foundation, a global non-profit organisation focused on accelerating blockchain technology across the energy sector and has an assignment as Adjunct Professor and Advisor to the President of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne. Before joining the World Energy Council, Christoph was Senior Director, Energy Industries & Policy at the World Economic Forum and a member of its Executive Council (2001–2009). Previously, he held various positions as Research Fellow and Lecturer at Swiss Federal Technical Institutes in Zurich, Würenlingen (PSI) and Lausanne (EPFL) from which he received his PhD in 2001.

Connie Hedegaard First Chair of the Board for the KR Foundation

Ms. Connie Hedegaard was the European Commissioner for Climate Action from 2010 to 2014, during which she led the negotiations towards the adoption of the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. As EU Commissioner, she was also responsible for the 2050 Roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy and represented the EU in the international climate negotiations. With two decades of experience in international and domestic executive policy making Connie Hedegaard is today assuming several key positions in support of a low-carbon and green economy. Ms. Hedegaard is the first chair of the Board for the KR Foundation and is also the current chair of OECD’s Round Table for Sustainable Development; chair of the Danish Government’s Committee on Public Service; chair of the Board for the green think tank, CONCITO; member of the Nordex Supervisory Board; member of the Danfoss A/S Board; and member of the Board of Aarhus University. Ms. Hedegaard has furthermore been appointed Public Investigator for the Norwegian government’s project on Green Competitiveness.

Jules Kortenhorst Chief Executive Officer of Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

Jules Kortenhorst is a recognized leader on global energy issues and climate change. His background spans business, government, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit leadership. Prior to RMI, Jules was CEO of Topell Energy BV, a company that developed a cutting-edge process for the production of solid biofuel. He also served as the founding CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF), the largest philanthropic organization dedicated to policy development and advocacy on climate change in Europe. Mr. Kortenhorst led a major effort at ECF to develop the roadmap for decarbonized power generation. Before launching ECF, He was the CEO for International Operations of ClientLogic Corporation, a global leader in outsourced customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Jules also served as a member of the Dutch parliament. Earlier in his career, he worked for eight years for Royal Dutch Shell, including as managing director of Shell Bulgaria.

Maria Krautzberger President of the German Federal Environment Agency UBA

Maria Krautzberger heads the German Environment Agency (UBA) since 2014. Before joining UBA, she served as Permanent State Secretary for Urban Development and the Environment at the Berlin Senate. Prior to that, she was Senator for the Environment of the Free Hanseatic City of Lübeck. Maria Krautzberger has launched numerous environmental policy initiatives, such as the "Stadtentwicklungsplan Klima Berlin" — a climate-related urban development plan for Berlin, promoted the certification of forests and moreover played a key role in establishing Germany's first low emission environmental zone in Berlin.

Dr. Jeremy Leggett Founding Director Solarcentury, Founder & Chairman SolarAid

Jeremy Leggett is a social entrepreneur and writer. After a successful academic career in earth science, he resigned from his academic duties to become a climate campaigner with Greenpeace International. For his activities he was awarded the US Climate Institute’s Award for Advancing Understanding. Following a shift into social and environmental entrepreneurship, he founded Solarcentury and led it as CEO until 2006. The company has won multiple awards for innovation and sustainability, including the Sunday Times / Microsoft TechTrack 100 R&D Award (2006), the FT / Treasury Inner City 100 Greenest Company Award (2007), and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation (2011). SunnyMoney, the retail brand set up by SolarAid, scored Platinum in the Global Impact Investment Rating Sytem for three years running (2014-16), during which time it was for a while the biggest retailer of solar lighting on the African continent.

Rachel Kyte CEO Sustainable Energy for All

As a leading advocate for sustainable development, Rachel Kyte is focused on affordable, reliable and sustainable energy as the key to combating both poverty and climate change. As Special Representative for the Secretary General she is the point person in the United Nations for action towards the recently agreed SDG 7 on sustainable energy. Rachel Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at COP 21. Recipient of numerous awards for women’s leadership, climate action and sustainable development, she is a Professor of practice in sustainable development.

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe Chairman Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND)

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe is a Sri Lankan physicist and economist with a focus on energy, water resources, sustainable development and climate change. He was a Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He also serves on the board of directors of Green Cross International and is a member of the Club of Rome. He is also Honorary Senior Advisor to the Govt. of Sri Lanka; and Distinguished Guest Professor at Peking University, China. Formerly, he served as Senior Energy Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka; Advisor to United States President’s Council on Environmental Quality; and Senior Advisor/Manager, World Bank.

Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam (IASS)

One of Germany’s most knowledgeable experts in sustainability research, Professor Renn’s main research activities focus on the role of systemic risks as threats to sustainable development, and the structures and processes for sustainable transformations in Germany and beyond. Renn is Adjunct Professor for Integrated Risk Analysis at Stavanger University (Norway) and Affiliate Professor for Risk Governance at Beijing Normal University.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has been Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) since he founded the institute in 1992. He is Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Co-Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Schellnhuber has authored, co-authored or edited almost 350 articles and more than 60 books in the fields of condensed matter physics, complex systems dynamics, climate change research, Earth System analysis, and sustainability science.

Philipp Schröder Managing Director at Sonnen GmbH

Starting off as an energy activist, Schröder founded a first energy startup in his college years. After a brief stint at wind and solar company Juwi, he joined battery maker Sonnen as sales manager. Being tasked by Elon Musk to develop the German market as sales representative for Tesla, he managed to successfully establish the new brand as a lifestyle vehicle in the home country of established premium car makers. After his return to Sonnen as managing director in 2015, the company was ranked among the 50 smartest companies worldwide by MIT in 2016.

Dr. Christoph Wolff Managing Director of the European Climate Foundation

Christoph Wolff is Managing Director of the European Climate Foundation. In this role, he heads up the European Climate Foundation’s power sector decarbonisation, low-carbon transport and energy efficiency programmes. A mechanical engineer by training Christoph was senior partner at McKinsey for 16 years heading the global work in logistics and infrastructure. As Board member of DB Schenker, he was responsible for the international growth and operations of the company´s rail division. He has been the CEO of companies in the renewable energy sector, namely Novatec/ABB GmbH and Solar Millennium AG, and acted as Board Advisor for Flagsol/Ferrostaal in the renewable division. Christoph is on the board of several new energy startups and faculty at the Institute for Energy Economics in Cologne.

Ewald Woste Industrial Advisor for EQT

Ewald Woste is chairman of the supervisory board of Thüringer Energie AG and is member of the supervisory board of Berliner Gaswerke Aktiengesellschaft and E.ON SE. In a long career in regional energy suppliers, Mr. Woste became one of the most knowledgeable experts in the German energy sector.

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