Imprint | Terms and Conditions | Data Protection Declaration by dena 


#SET21 Award 

Hi start-up! Thanks for choosing to apply to the SET Award 2021. This year, we seek energy start-ups under the theme of "the role of the circular economy in the energy transition". We are excited to learn about how your innovation contributes to energy system transformation, while taking into account the sustainability factor in the lifecycle of your product or service. 

Below you will find the category descriptions, along with the general criteria and rules for this competition. We kindly ask that you take the time to read through everything thoroughly, and in case you have any further questions, please write to


Please find the complete category descriptions below. 

Category 1:  Clean Energy Generation   

Category 2: Demand-side Innovation

Category 3: Energy Distribution and Storage

Category 4: Smart Mobility & Transportation

Category 5: Quality Energy Access & SDG-7

Perks & Prizes

No matter how far you go into the SET process, there is always a value-added for your start-up. Many of our start-ups have gone on to gain new investors, mentors and customers, received invitations to energy events around the world and won even more awards and recognition for their inspiring work.

For all Participants: join the global platform of innovation leaders; see your views represented in the Energy Innovators Issues Monitor; Inform and influence policies that will boost  innovation.

For the #SET100 2021: the Top 100-ranked applicants will be featured in our annual publication which is circulated to  investors, corporates and political stakeholders across the globe. The Top 100 also receive a free ticket to the SET Tech Festival 2021.*

For all Finalists: return-flight to Berlin, and accommodation for 2 representatives of the start-up to attend the Tech Festival*;  Pitch coaching; Meet-and-greet with high-level jury, Individual booth at Tech Festival*; Live pitches at Tech Festival*; Investor-matchmaking*; Tickets to the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD)*; Content creation: interviews and branding in all communication material; Access to exclusive partner events globally. 

Winners of each category: up to 10.000 Euros prize money; Profile of start-up celebrated across the World Energy Council’s global energy network in 99 countries. In addition, start-ups will have the opportunity to attend the World Energy Leaders’ Summits.

*please note, these prizes are subject to change or deviation depending on the implications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Participation Criteria  

Applicants may only apply to one category. All subsequent applications to other categories will be disqualified. 

1. The start-up must not have been founded longer than ten years ago. In other words, the date of foundation cannot exceed 2010.

2. The application, including any attached documents, must be in English.

3. The start-up must be able to present a functioning prototype. In addition, the company must be registered or be in the process of becoming registered and the applicant must be able to present a proof of concept or a client, and/or an industrial/corporate/institutional partner.

4. The applicant must fill out the entire form. Partially completed applications will not be accepted.

The application portal will close Jan 31st, 2021 11:59pm (UTC-12:00) 

Selection Process & Timeline

October 22, 2020 – January 31st, 2021: Application phase 

January 31st – mid-February, 2021: Analysts of our partner EarlyMetrics, to rank and evaluate applications; high-level jury evaluations

March 2021: Top 15 finalists announced; SET 100 announced

Spring 2021: Winners decided and announced at SET Tech Festival/ SET Award Ceremony

Terms and Conditions

Download the official conditions and legal terms for taking part in the competition.

Imprint | Terms and Conditions | Data Protection Declaration by dena  
While renewable energy resources may be abundant in some areas, the required technology mix or supporting infrastructure may be lacking. Take for instance, the vast amounts of heat generation used for buildings in industrial processes. Decarbonising this sector is particularly challenging and poses a large problem for the energy transition. In addition, how do we most effectively use hydrogen-based technologies and build the necessary capacities for it?  How can we move faster and further away from conventional emission intensive forms of energy generation in a sustainable way? In this category, we are looking for start-ups who are developing clean energy generation solutions that could help to decarbonise our most energy-intensive sectors, as well as on those accelerating the adoption of new solutions through capacity building.

Key words (not limited to): heat generation; clean cooling; alternative fuels; solar; wind; Power-to-X; maintenance infrastructures

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Today the ways in which energy is consumed are shifting fast and fundamentally. For a long time, three global drivers of change – decarbonisation, digitalisation, decentralisation – were shaping energy systems developments in all world regions. In response to the faster pace of technology innovation and increasing uptake of climate policies, one new global driver has emerged - demand-side disruptions, which reflect the rise of digitally empowered prosumers and new demand for clean and efficient energy services. End-users want ideas, which helps them do more with less. How can innovators support digital, big-data businesses in decreasing their energy footprint? Which ideas aide industries, cities and households to track, manage, reduce or adapt their energy consumption? How can they be one of the key drivers in the creation of net-zero communities? We are searching for smart devices, applications, materials, substitutes and behaviour-changing innovations that help promote and improve energy use.

Key words (not limited to): smart devices; insulation; prosumers; green buildings; retrofitting; heat recovery; big-data energy footprint; net-zero communities

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There have been significant changes in the transmission and distribution of energy as traditional grid management becomes increasingly complex. The dissemination of information and decentralization of energy systems has the potential to empower and enable citizens globally. However, one must consider integrating infrastructure beyond the energy sector by coupling with adjacent sectors to offer effective solutions with overall lower carbon footprints. Digital grid management systems, smart platforms, the application of big-data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are key technologies that will continue to support the energy systems of the future. But don’t forget storage! Energy storage solutions that offer both short and long-term storage options to enable grid stability and flexibility and manage the over or under-production of renewable energy are in growing demand. Storage technologies should look to be more cost-effective, while also focusing on using less environmental damaging materials in their production. This category calls for tech-savvy start-ups working on distribution and climate-neutral storage solutions for a micro, mini, local or system wide application.

Key words (not limited to): grid mgmt systems; smart platforms; AI; blockchain; digital twinning; storage; conflict and rare-earth free materials; batteries; big-data; grid stability; grid flexibility; sector-coupling

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While decarbonising the transport sector is no easy task – there is no shortage of real and effective solutions. More and more cities are implementing policies that aim at reducing pollution and GHG-emissions, meaning that the era of smart mobility and transportation is not far off. The uptake of electric vehicles, innovative sharing platforms, and the advancement of alternative modes of transport will all help mobility become more accessible and affordable, while also reducing the impact on the environment and climate. Creative approaches to infrastructure, public planning, logistics, user behaviours, shipping and freight services, vehicles and other modes of transport are key to a well-functioning & sustainable mobility sector of tomorrow.

Key words (not limited to): public transport; logistics management; shipping and freight; public planning; electrification; infrastructure; alternative modes of transport

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To achieve a global energy transition, we cannot ignore the matter of energy poverty. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 is all about “ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. While action is needed from the side of policymakers to maintain the Energy Trilemma balance, the entrepreneurial community has a role to play in ensuring access to energy for all – in a sustainable and equitable way. Which start-ups are able to provide sustainable solutions for energy, use less, and empower their communities by scaling their ideas through cooperation with other businesses and organisations? We are looking for start-ups that have the potential to make the biggest dent in ensuring access to affordable energy for all. We are looking for diverse solutions for technology, financing, awareness & capacity building, that can reach far and wide, have a very clear social drive and most of all, will make a large impact.

Key words (not limited to): SDG-7; the Energy Trilemma; equity; affordability; access; reliability: resource management; environmental sustainability; social entrepreneurship; cooperation; impact and scale

Start Up Energy Transition