The accelerated energy transition amidst pressing climate concerns has compelled industry players to contribute actionable solutions in driving positive change and sustainable development.
Rising up to the challenge, Petronas, a global energy corporation, has significantly expanded its scope beyond traditional oil and gas operations, delving into the realms of technology, sustainability and innovative digitalisation through its initiative, Petronas FutureTech.
This programme, integral to the company’s business growth and industry advancement, demonstrates Petronas’ commitment to staying at the forefront of the rapidly evolving energy sector while also furthering a more environmentally responsible agenda, marking a pivotal shift towards embracing the future of technology.
Emerging Growth of the FutureTech Accelerator Programme
Initiated in 2019, Petronas FutureTech was conceptualised by the energy juggernaut‘s corporate venture capital arm Petronas Ventures, and represents a technological transformation within the energy industry. This strategic move also fuels a healthy Malaysian and global startup ecosystem with active investments in operational decarbonisation and new low-carbon fuels businesses.
This year, Petronas FutureTech expands to include Asia Pacific companies, reflecting the region’s increasing importance as a hub for new technologies and financial capital.
Joining the latest FutureTech instalment are seven new corporate partners, namely Tenaga Nasional Bhd, DRB-HICOM Bhd, Gentari Sdn Bhd, Sembcorp Industries Ltd, Hyundai Motor Company, Vitol and Khazanah Malaysia Bhd.
FutureTech 3.0 is also supported by various ecosystem partners – Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), SG Innovate (Singapore), Leave a Nest Group (Japan), MYStartup, National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
With this expansion, FutureTech 3.0 offers participating startups from Asia Pacific the opportunity to acquire new capabilities, and access to new markets and industry trends.
Encouraging Entrepreneurial Endeavours at FutureTech 3.0
Petronas FutureTech’s focus spans several key areas: the future of industry and work, future of energy and mobility, future of chemicals and materials, frontier technology and sustainability.
This 16-week programme offers a comprehensive package of training and mentorship, equipping startups with the necessary skills to address global market challenges and foster innovative solutions.
This assistance is pivotal in helping startups make a significant impact in the dynamic and sustainable energy sector, and beyond.
The programme’s goal is to bolster startups within the regional ecosystem, assisting them in scaling their ventures and tackling the myriad challenges posed by the energy transition. To date, over 60 startups have reaped the benefits of the programme’s extensive support and developmental initiatives.
Nurturing a New Generation of Energy Innovators
The programme’s ethos is rooted in the belief that nurturing the next generation of innovators is key to unlocking the future of the energy sector. By providing startups with access to Petronas’ vast network of business units, industry contacts and resources, Petronas FutureTech is laying the groundwork for a new era of energy solutions.
A distinctive aspect of the Petronas FutureTech platform is its emphasis on building collaborative networks. This approach allows startups to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, industry experts, and potential investors, creating a vibrant ecosystem conducive to innovation and growth.
A Platform for Showcasing Innovation
At the heart of the FutureTech programme lies Demo Day, a pivotal event where startups present their innovative solutions to industry leaders and various business partners. This occasion serves as a testament to the platform’s success in nurturing groundbreaking and future-facing solutions within the changing energy sector.
Among the notable beneficiaries of the FutureTech 3.0 Demo Day Awards are Beep Technologies and SunGreenH2. Beep Technologies has been concentrating on enhancing electric vehicle (EV) charging connectivity whereas SunGreenH2 has made significant inroads in the field of green hydrogen production.
Beep Technologies: Learning and Advancing
Beep Technologies extols the virtues of the Petronas FutureTech programme, attributing their rapid learning curve and market immersion to the initiative. The programme facilitated an in-depth understanding of various market norms and expectations, supported by the guidance of venture teams and innovation partners. This hands-on experience enabled Beep to refine its approach and assimilate crucial market insights.
Having already established itself in Singapore, the startup sees Malaysia as an important market alongside Thailand for its expansion roadmap. Beep credits Petronas for becoming a rapidly growing leader in the green energy space, and its decision to participate in the accelerator programme was bolstered by the availability of a strong network of relevant energy and automotive partners. Beep also commends the start-up friendly nature of Petronas FutureTech and the opportunity for follow-on exposure to institutional and corporate venture investments.
Reflecting on how Petronas FutureTech’s extensive ecosystem of partners helped to foster a collaborative relationship, Kristoffer Jacek Soh, Beep Technologies’ CEO, says physical visits to corporate partners’ offices during the intensive immersion period opened up group and individual opportunities for collaboration discussions.
“This allowed us to directly engage with each partner and visualise their current operations whilst understanding their future goals,” Kristoffer said.
The programme equipped Beep with the skills to scrutinise the roadmaps of different partners, allowing them to tailor their product offerings and optimise the timing for potential collaborations.
“We also learned of the many challenges faced by these partners, helping us understand their decision-making processes to better align our value proposition with their end goals,” adds Kristoffer.
Beep Technologies is making concerted efforts in the burgeoning EV space. This focus reflects a global trend towards electric vehicles, buoyed by support from industry and government initiatives, including those in Malaysia. The Petronas FutureTech Accelerator Programme has been instrumental in enabling these startups to navigate and exploit the opportunities presented by this expanding market.
SunGreenH2: Gaining Strategic Insights
SunGreenH2’s patented technology is based on nanoscience and electrochemistry, and have the electrodes, stacks and electrolysers that can double the hydrogen production at 80% of the operational cost, while eliminating the use of precious metals such as platinum, reducing the amount of environmentally harmful mining required for the energy transition.
Headquartered in Singapore, the renewable energy parts developer said the Petronas FutureTech3.0 programme offered market immersion in Malaysia and the wider region, including access to Petronas’ partners and customers, enabling them to understand the ecosystem and the region’s potential as a large player on the supply side, with access to renewable power to produce hydrogen at scale.
“The programme included participation at the inaugural Energy Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur, and also coincided with the launch of Malaysia’s National Energy Transition Roadmap where hydrogen is included as one of the energy transition levers to drive to net zero by 2050.
“Through these interactions across value chains, we gained insight to the pace of acceleration of hydrogen in Malaysia,” said SunGreenH2’s co-founder and CEO, Tulika Raj.
Along with Petronas’ programme partner StartupX providing coaching and entrepreneurial-focused mentoring, as well as site visits in Singapore and Malaysia, Tulika said the accelerator experience allowed them to overcome challenges in their entrepreneur journey.
“As a young company, we learnt how to develop a sharp, customer-focused proposition for products that the market wanted to buy, leading to easier investor discussions to fund our growth,” she said.
The Future Outlook
As the world shifts towards sustainable energy solutions, programmes like Petronas FutureTech are becoming increasingly crucial. By bridging the gap between traditional energy practices and innovative technological solutions, Petronas is not only securing its position as a leader in the energy sector but also contributing significantly to the global pursuit of sustainable energy.
Petronas FutureTech embodies a forward-thinking approach, harnessing the power of innovation and strategic collaborations to advance the industry forward. As this programme continues to evolve, it aims to be a catalyst for change, driving innovation and nurturing the next generation of energy sector leaders.
With its focus on developing cutting-edge technology and fostering entrepreneurial spirit, startups who participate in the Petronas FutureTech Accelerator Programme are well-positioned to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the global energy landscape.
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