What a great story at the start of the week! "Powerhouse" is an incubator focusing on launching and growing start-up companies specialising in solar energy and solar enabling technologies (including storage and demand response). The aim (in the words of Powerhouse's co-founder, Emily Kirsch) is ambitious, "to make solar energy the most accessible from of energy in the world" and "Powerhouse" is still small, with its companies' having contributed to the installation of 242 MW of solar thus far.
And yet it is making an impact.
According to the article, there are two programmes available for start-up companies, an "accelerator" and an "incubator" programme. The former provides a small amount of funding and office space (almost free of charge). The latter provides support to more established companies. Start-ups co-exist in the same office space allowing for cross-fertilisation of ideas. Networking opportunities with investors and customers also abound.
Is this a model that could be replicated in the UK?
The UK solar energy market is smaller than the US one and because of that the key players already know one another. This is not necessarily the same for the solar-enabling technologies market. Energy storage and demand response technologies are niche areas, which remain largely "untested". This is where initiatives such as the "Powerhouse" could make a difference by bringing together entrepreneurs and enabling them to "road-test" their ideas before taking the plunge. While we do have Entrepreneurial Spark that is not sector specific and the added benefit of people all working to the same goal in one place seems a win-win concept.
It started with a crowdfunding startup, an investment from Prince, and the idea to help new solar companies tackle business challenges that can be hard to overcome on their own. Now, four years later, the idea has morphed into a group called Powerhouse, and notably, in a world flush with tech startups, it’s one of the only incubators out there focused on launching and growing solar companies.