Energy start-ups in Germany – Key insights founders should know

Startup Guide is a publishing and media company that produces guidebooks and online content to help entrepreneurs navigate and connect with different start-up scenes across the world. On April 30th, they launched the “Startup Guide Germany” focussing on the German start-up ecosystem and delivering key insights to start a business in Germany.

Startup Guide’s mission is to guide, empower and inspire people to start their own business anywhere.”

Unlike previous editions of the handbook, which focused on individual German cities, the new Startup Guide Germany takes a closer look at a number of different regions across the country, namely: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Ruhr. Thereby the handbook offers a comprehensive glimpse into the German start-up ecosystem by highlighting the most innovative start-ups, investors, founders, programmes and schools nationwide. It particularly addresses entrepreneurs considering entering the German start-up ecosystem.

Start a business in Germany: Startup Guide Germany in einer Hand mit weißem Hintergrund

Key insights to start an energy business in Germany

Pia Dorfinger, Project Director of Start-ups and Innovation at the German Energy Agency (dena) and Head of the Start Up Energy Transition (SET) programme, is among the experts featured in the new Startup Guide Germany. She provides valuable insights into how to successfully found a start-up in Germany’s booming energy sector. Based on years of experience working with thousands of innovative energy start-ups from all over the world, Pia emphasises four key points that start-ups should take to heart: Building a strong network, understanding country specific regulations, interlinking business targets and values to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and finally, not being afraid to take the leap.

1/ The importance of building a strong network

Networking and getting to know the business environment is essential when it comes to successfully getting a company up and running. Tapping into and collaborating with start-ups, investors, corporates, and state agencies offers new start-ups an important source of guidance into the market. The benefit of attending networking events, exchanging with other founders and entrepreneurs, speaking with experts and seeking advice within the energy start-up ecosystem cannot be underscorred enough.

“To support start-ups in building their networks, dena runs the SET Global Innovation Platform. There are three main components to the platform: the SET Award, the SET 100 list and the SET Tech Festival.” Pia Dorfinger

The annual SET Award highlights the top start-ups from around the world working on solutions relevant to the global energy transition. Fifteen finalists receive invitations to attend the SET Tech Festival, pitch training, exclusive invites to networking events, speaking opportunities at international events and introductions to the SET global network. The winners also receive a cash prize. Every year, the SET 100 list is published to showcase the top one hundred global start-ups working on solutions for the energy transition. The SET Tech Festival is a conference that highlights start-ups and innovations in the energy transition field and has a strong focus on networking with relevant stakeholders from all around the world.

Additionally, SET Network platform connects innovative start-ups from energy-related sectors with potential partner companies, investors and other start-ups worldwide.


SET Tech Festival - Boat with a Startup Speed-Dating Banner
SET Startup Speed Dating during SET 2019 Tech Festival


2/ Understanding country specific regulations

Each country has its specific regulatory framework and the German bureaucratic processes may seem stringent when coming from abroad. For a new company to be successful and to gain the maximum benefit that the German start-up ecosystem has to offer, it is essential that they have a thorough knowledge of the pertinent regulations. Germany offers many means of support to aid entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of the domestic energy regulatory framework.

Dena, for example, hosts a program for Germany-based start-ups called SET Hub, which helps innovators in aligning their business models with the energy transition. SET Hub offers mentoring and training for young innovators, including advice on the regulatory challenges of the energy sector. In addition, dena serves as a liaison for start-ups to the policy side of the energy sector.

3/ Align your company with SDGs

As the United Nations’ SDGs highlight the interconnectivity of activities and approaches towards a more sustainable future, Pia encourages start-ups to reflect on which SDGs their product or service may align with. In addition, considering SDGs and the defined sub-targets can serve not only as a guideline towards greater sustainability but can also help companies to measure their impact and progress.

“The more SDGs we can achieve, the more we will be on track to reach our global climate change and energy transition goals. ” Pia Dorfinger

In line with this, Quality Energy Access & SDG-7, for example, is one of the five SET Award categories dedicated to rewarding start-ups who strive to ensure access to energy for all – in a sustainable and equitable way.


Divine Bamboo is on the stage of the SET Tech Festival presenting her start-up
Divine Bamboo/ SET19 Award winners in Quality Energy Access & SDG-7 category


4/ Don’t be afraid to take the leap

You can have a really big impact in the energy sector. Don’t be afraid to just get started. There are lots of organisations, like dena, that can help you succeed. Go for it!

To read the full interview with Pia and learn more about the German start-up scene, check-out the newly published Startup Guide Germany here!

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