Renewable Energy Founder Forum returns to roaring success

ARENA’s Renewable Energy Founder Forum comes back in person and better than ever.

“A talent for following the ways of yesterday is not sufficient to improve the world of today.” – King Wuling of Zhao, 307 BC.

Solving the challenge of climate change involves bold ideas and the ability to imagine a future that looks different to the world today.

In meeting the technological challenge of decarbonisation, startups are at the forefront of bringing new bold ideas to fruition.

“Our passion is startups. They’re the ones who are changing the world.” – Ian Gardiner Innovation Bay

It was in this spirit that some of Australia’s cutting edge cleantech startups came together last month at Sydney’s Beta Bar for ARENA’s Renewable Energy Founder Forum.

What is the Renewable Energy Founder Forum?

Now on its third run, the event sees startups present pitches to Innovation Bay’s network of renewable energy investors, founders and experts.

Cameron Van Der Berg from Infravision presenting to ARENA's Renewable Energy Founder Forum
Cameron Van Der Berg from Infravision presenting to ARENA’s Renewable Energy Founder Forum. Image: Saidie Creative/Innovation Bay.

“In the lead up to the event we were working with ARENA and Innovation Bay to really refine our pitches, and I found that process really valuable from the point of view that we got constant feedback from a variety of different stakeholders” – Cameron Van Der Berg, Infravision

From a pool of more than 40 applicants, four startups were invited to present on the night.

Working with ARENA and Innovation Bay, these four companies developed strong pitches to be presented at the Founder Forum.

ARENA CEO Darren Miler presenting to ARENA's Renewable Energy Founder Forum
ARENA CEO Darren Miler presenting to ARENA’s Renewable Energy Founder Forum. Image: Saidie Creative/Innovation Bay.

Early in the evening, 5B’s Nicole Kuepper-Russell told participants about 5B’s experience presenting at the previous Founder Forum and how they landed fresh investment directly off the back of the event.

Later, attendees heard from a panel of renewable energy and finance experts including The Australian Centre for Advanced PhotovoltaicsRenate Egan and Macquarie’s Kate Vidgen about the big-picture challenges on the road to net zero.

Panel discussion with renewable energy experts and investors at ARENA's Renewable Energy Founder Forum
The Founder Forum fatured a panel discussion with renewable energy and finance experts. L-R: Renate Egan – Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, Kate Vidgen – Macquarie, Kristin Vaughn – Virescent Ventures, Ian Gardiner – Innovation Bay. Image: Saidie Creative/Innovation Bay.

“Cleantech impacts every single part of the economy,” said Kristin Vaughan, managing partner with Virescent Ventures.

“I think it’s hard to see any other mega trend or industry that is going to create such opportunities for growth over the decades to come,” she said.

Which founders presented at the forum?

Companies presenting included MGA Thermal, whose technology uses superheated metals to store renewable energy over long durations, and PV industries, who are looking to solve the challenge of solar panel recycling.

We’re at the Founders Forum because we want to connect with additional investors but also get out the message to the ARENA ecosystem that we exist, what we’re doing, what stage we’re at” Professor Erich Kisi, MGA Thermal.

The event also heard from Janus Electric, who are developing a switchable battery system to electrify long haul road transport.

Lage room full of people seated at tables for ARENA;' Renewable Energy Founder Forum
Sydney’s Beta Bar was filled with renewable Energy experts and investors. Image: Saidie Creative/Innovation Bay.

At the end of the night it was Infravision who took home the people’s choice award for their novel approach to hanging transmission lines with drones.

“Previous award winners have gone on to great things,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “So I’ve got high expectations now for Infravision.”