Companies battle it out over clean energy ideas

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Companies have been battling it out to find the region’s most innovative clean energy and smart technology ideas.

A ‘Big Pitch UK’ competition run by ENGIE invited businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs to pitch innovative projects or ideas to a panel of experts.

And judges selected HOMIE, run by Colin Bom, and UPSIDE, run by Graham Oakes, as the north east winners, who will now face judges at a grand finale in London on June 19 for the chance to win the £10,000 prize and investment from ENGIE’s New Ventures Fund.

The North East competition took place at The Core, Science Central, in Newcastle.

ENGIE is seeking to discover the next big idea in energy and services for cities, communities, buildings and people.

Other ideas presented to the panel included the use of nanotechnology to improve fuel efficiency and everyday services, solar powered bikes to encourage active citizens, a digitally controlled gas safety system and secondary uses for electric car batteries.

Among the judges was Patrick Melia, chief executive of North Tyneside Council.

He said: “The Big Pitch attracted some first rate innovators to the north east region, putting us at the heart of the innovation agenda.

“Lots of people have great ideas. What events like the Big Pitch enable us to do is capture those ideas and understand the support that is required so that they are delivered in practice for the real world.”

Fellow judge Hans Möller, Innovation Director of North East LEP, added: “Big Pitch UK is an exciting initiative that allows entrepreneurs to take their ideas to the next stage and helps them towards commercialisation.

“The judges saw huge potential in the two companies selected, which are just the kind of startups that the LEP is looking to encourage in the north east.”

Caroline Hopkins, UK Development Director at ENGIE, said, “The way the world generates and consumes power is going through an unprecedented transformation.

“To successfully navigate what ENGIE describes as ‘the energy transition’ requires innovative thought and a fresh perspective.

“HOMIE and UPSIDE, and indeed every one of the pitches, demonstrated these attributes, reinforcing our view that there is a wealth of entrepreneurial talent in the UK.”