A-Lab Incubate 2019

The 2019 instalment of ARENA’s project accelerator A-Lab Incubate took place over an intense three days in mid September.


Held within the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, seven teams used the opportunity to develop world-leading projects and initiatives that will help accelerate Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.

A-Lab Incubate was established to support teams of energy experts to advance project ideas that may be suitable for future ARENA funding. The commercially focused workshops bring together teams to work intensively to build and accelerate their project ideas while receiving feedback from other attendees, industry professionals and ARENA.

Projects at Incubate 2019 addressed a range of challenges and opportunities – from improving our ability to manage and integrate distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and electric vehicles, to empowering remote communities with hydrogen and finding ways to help industry use renewable energy and reduce emissions.

Day one saw teams grapple with the big “why” questions surrounding their projects. Understanding and being able to articulate why an activity is so important to the future of the energy system can be the difference between success or failure.

To help test these big questions, the teams were introduced to external mentors on day two. Experts from the electricity, regulatory, finance, public interest, and government sectors helped the teams to better understand whether the product or service they were offering was well-placed or needed further guidance.

With insights in hand, our group of eager participants worked began developing clear and articulate project plans and strategies focusing on all aspects of project design – from designing the work packages involved and the timelines for delivery, through to who is doing what and who’s paying for it.

With some time left to refine their thinking on day three, the teams focused on preparing to pitch their ideas to the “Dolphin Tank”, a panel of experts friendlier than sharks! Comprising AEMO Chairman, Drew Clarke AO PSM; ARENA CEO Darren Miller; ARENA CFO Ian Kay; and ARENA Advisory Panel Member Susan Mallan, the esteemed ‘Dolphins’ offered valuable feedback and insights.

ARENA has run 17 A-Lab events since 2016 and the Incubate process has been proven to help accelerate project ideas. This year saw the return of Grant Stepa, an Advisor to Rheem, who commented that the 2018 event allowed them to “compress about six months worth of work into three days.”

Gareth Ridge from Transgrid noted that, “because of Incubate we now have a solid understanding of what it is our project intends to achieve and the application we want to put forward to ARENA. There’s no way we could have achieved this in three days without Incubate.”

ARENA is looking forward to watching the project teams grow and develop over the coming months and hopefully seeing some well-crafted funding applications in the near future.

a lab incubate

Pictured: the A-Lab Incubate Team