What we do
Energy sector startups have big ideas for how they want to change the world, and we want to help them realize their vision.
The Japan Energy Challenge is an energy innovation program aimed at helping startups demonstrate their products with their first major customer in Japan - the world’s most dynamic and exciting energy market.
We aim to be the fastest and best option for promising energy sector startups to begin unlocking the massive opportunity in the area. We succeed when our winners find clients, pilot projects, sales opportunities, and funding from our partners.
With over 900 TWh of annual electricity consumption, Japan is the fourth largest consuming nation in the world. It’s also in a period of rapid political, industrial, and technological change.
In March 2016 - one month before liberalising - Japan’s electricity market size was $150B. Nearly two years later, the market is highly competitive with the former incumbents and dozens of new entrants fighting for market share and new technologies that will give them an edge.
In 2015, Japan became largest procurer in the world of smart-metering solutions. Every household - nearly 80M in total - is expected to have a smart-meter installed by 2025.
These advancements have made Japan a hotbed of change and opportunity. However, entering the market from overseas can be challenging. The Japan Energy Challenge is a program designed to select promising technologies and match them with companies in the Japanese energy sector who are looking to innovate.
SUMMIT ENERGY is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, one of the major integrated trading firms in Japan. They supply electricity to both commercial and residential customers. In 2016, they supplied 2,800GWh, making them the 6th largest retail electricity supplier in Japan. Summit Energy has its own generating capacity from a variety of sources, including biomass power generation.
ENECHANGE LTD. is Japan's most popular energy switching website, having 3 million monthly unique visitors and working with over 100 energy suppliers. Enechange is also recognised as one of the most innovative energy ventures in Japan, providing vertically integrated tech solutions - such as data-driven CRM solutions, smart-meter data management (SMAP), AI-driven load curve simulation etc. - for energy suppliers.
JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy is the largest oil company and 3rd largest new electric power supplier in Japan, and is known by its brand ENEOS. JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy has crude refining capacity of around 2 million barrel per day - which is comparable to BP - and a nationwide supply chain enabling stable supply of products and services associated with energy. JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy has also been increasingly supplying low-carbon energy sources, such as solar power, wind power, biofuel, and hydrogen, while developing related technologies.
TOKYO GAS is Japan's largest provider of natural gas, serving more than 11 million customers. In FY2016, TOKYO GAS made a start by entering the electricity retail business and has since reached 1,110,000 customers (March 2018). TOKYO GAS is shifting from the in-house R&D focused on natural gas energy to an open innovation style R&D to focus on a broad range of innovative energy solutions.
LOOOP operates a low-voltage power retail business ‘Looop Denki’. Since starting in April 2016, the business has gained over 100,000 users by the end of March 2018. After reaching this critical turning point, LOOOP aims to reach 200,000 users by the end of the next fiscal year, and is opening a broad array of new services to attract smart energy consumers.
NEXT ENERGY is an integrated solution provider for renewable energy currently dedicated to solar PV, including services for solar module procurement, mounting system and energy storage system manufacturing, EPC, O&M and asset management. NEXT ENERGY also owns and operates GREENa - Japan’s first 100% renewable electricity supply plan.
Who can apply
What’s in it for you
We want to help all applicants start on the path to entering the Japanese energy market, but unfortunately we can only select two winners. The winners will be chosen because their products have the best chance of being successfully deployed in Japan.
The winners will receive a package of benefits meant to help fast-track their first relationships in Japan and help transform them into beneficial outcomes. This package includes:
- A fully sponsored and managed trip to Japan to pitch to a tailored selection of key decisionmakers with our partners
- All supporting services - travel agents, translators, etc. - included
- Connections to relevant suppliers, consultants, technical experts, etc. and ongoing support to make sure promising projects reach fruition
- Media coverage in both European and Japanese publications
We want to do everything we can to help the winners succeed in the Japanese energy sector and expect the winners will receive pilot projects, sales agreements, coordinated development, or other forms of collaboration.
To find our more about our winners for 2018, read here.
Jan 1, 2018
Call for applications opens and scouting begins
May 1, 2018
Finalists confirmed, coaching and preparation begins
Jul 5, 2018
Presentation to Japanese partners & clients
Jul 6, 2018
Jul 12, 2018
Follow-on preparation & project start
Are you ready to get started?
I have an idea but haven’t built a team or product – can I apply?
At minimum, we want to see startups that have a commercial demonstration and enough evidence to prove they are ready to make an entrance in the international market. You don't have to be profitable but you should have enough traction to demonstrate product-market fit.
I have a working product and paying customers – can I apply?
Absolutely! Having a defined product and market fit greatly improves your chances of selection. You are eligible to apply as long as you don’t have a significant market presence in Japan already, and we will help make the expansion happen smoothly.
What criteria will you use to evaluate the startups?
In order of importance, we will assess:
1. Partner interest in buying, selling, or implementing your solution
2. Traction achieved to date
3. The quality of your technology demonstration
Do we have to move to Japan?
Not unless you want to! Attendance at our London pitch event in July is mandatory, and other meetings will be held in London or on Skype depending on your preference. If you successfully win a project, our team can help with the logistics of deploying it in Japan to minimize disruption to your team.
Does it cost anything to participate?
Participation in the Japan Energy Challenge is entirely free for the startups. We won't ask for equity or revenue-sharing - the costs are entirely supported by our partners.