Bangladesh-based renewable energy start-up SOLshare has been awarded a $120,000 cash prize along with a $364,000 fund for investment by EIT InnoEnergy, the world's largest sustainable energy engine, to support expansion of SOLshare's pioneering peer-to-peer solar trading platform.
The latest investment takes SOLshare's most recent fundraising efforts to the $1.46 million mark, against a target of $2.75 million, according to a release issued today.
The $120,000 cash prize was awarded to SOLshare as part of EIT InnoEnergy's annual sustainable energy competition, a global call for start-ups that seeks to reward and develop the most innovative ideas in sustainable energy from around the globe.
Among 1,098 applicants from 83 countries, five start-ups -- Graphenix Development Inc, Spottitt Ltd, SOLshare, SABELLA, and Volytica Diagnostics GmbH -- made it to the final round and pitched to a jury in the opening session of EIT InnoEnergy's inaugural online event TBB.Connect, with the winner, SOLshare, being announced shortly after.
Judges opined that SOLshare's submission stood out because its value proposition has the potential to transform rural power markets with a large market globally. Its solution not only creates a transformative experience for end users but also represents a rather profitable business proposition for SOLShare itself, the jury said, adding that they saw a rather rare match between impact and profitability.
"This investment and award are a milestone moment for SOLshare," said Sebastian Groh, managing director of SOLshare.
"Our technology contributes to several of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, including energy for all, gender equality and climate action and every step towards our funding goal means that we can brighten even more lives," he added.
SOLshare's platform creates solar microgrids allowing household solar panel owners to buy and sell electricity according to their needs, while also providing their neighbours with access to electricity, often for the first time.
SOLshare has ambitious plans to bring its technology to 350,000 householders and small businesses across Bangladesh, India, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific islands over the next five years.
In addition to expanding to new customers, SOLshare also aims to develop the platform for providing additional internet-based services.
In a recent impact assessment, it was calculated that every $972,000 invested in SOLshare generates $4.74 million in social capital.
Congratulating SOLshare on the award, EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavia said, "SOLshare has the potential to lift thousands of families out of energy poverty in a sustainable way by simply utilising existing infrastructure in a smarter way. Alongside our investment, we are delighted to award SOLshare this cash prize and look forward to working collaboratively to deepen their impact."
SOLshare currently has 34 grids across Bangladesh and India, helping to lift nearly 5,000 people out of energy poverty.