New energy innovators will get the chance to showcase their cutting-edge ideas to Taranaki’s energy industry and investors as part of Ara Ake’s backing of the Orion Energy Accelerator competition.

Ara Ake has thrown its support behind the competition, which is a nationwide initiative calling for ground-breaking energy innovations that will help reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

From 11 finalists chosen to take part in a 10-week accelerator programme, two Start-up Grants worth a combined $25,000 will be awarded helping the successful individuals or start-up companies to validate and commercialise their idea.

Ara Ake will provide expert commercialisation support throughout the programme, including bringing the finalists to Taranaki in July to share their concepts with energy industry leaders and investors.

The competition is being run by Canterbury electricity lines company Orion and Christchurch-based startup and innovation organisation the Ministry of Awesome.

Ara Ake Chief Executive Dr Cristiano Marantes said the accelerator programme and competition was a fantastic opportunity to bring all of these groups – innovators, the energy industry, and investors – together.

“The energy innovation ecosystem is fragmented, and it can be difficult to make the right connections. We are doing our part to connect innovators with industry and investment so that we can accelerate the transition to a low emission future,” Dr Marantes said.

Ara Ake Head of Commercial Brooke Marshall, will work closely with the finalists throughout the programme as an expert-in-residence.

“Entrepreneurs are a key part of the climate change solution. They are fearless, they expect to challenge the status quo, and they expect to make rapid change. I am excited to support this new group of innovators to do just that,” Marshall said.

The Orion Energy Accelerator competition is open to individuals and start-up companies who have innovations across a range of energy sectors, including smart grids, e-mobility, EV charging and energy storage, and affordable energy solutions.

Orion General Manager, Customer and Stakeholder, Paul Deavoll said the energy sector had a big role to play in addressing the climate crisis. 

“It’s vital we explore how we can do things smarter and innovate faster. This country has a history of innovation in technology, and this is a call to action for our innovators to lend their thinking to solve the biggest issue threatening the future of the planet.” 

Ministry of Awesome’s Marian Johnson said the accelerator programme would be a “game-changer” for all participants.

“Our goal is to ensure these teams step out of the programme having made progress with their start-up and ready to commercialise their solutions,” she said.

Applications close 12 May 2021. The 11 finalists will begin the accelerator programme on 16 June, with the competition finishing with a Demo Evening on 9 September. To apply, go to