Status of the challenge: Selection ongoing

OIC 2020: Securing the energy transition

Top prize: €20,000 worth contract with Elia Group

The most promising start-ups will have the opportunity to meet Elia Group employees who work on innovation projects in the electricity sector on a daily basis for discussions on future collaboration.

The first place gets a contract with Elia Group worth €20,000 to carry out a Proof of Concept.

Information details

Who can participate


Registration deadline

30th March 2020

Status of the challenge

Selection ongoing

Open Innovation Challenge 2020

Via the fourth edition of the Open Innovation Challenge, Elia Group is looking for innovative and digital solutions to enhance the security of energy related assets and data. We encourage start-ups with new technologies to respond and to make the energy transition happen in a secure way!

Elia Group, composed of Elia, Belgium’s transmission system operator, and 50Hertz, one of the 4 German transmission system operators, is tasked with maintaining the grid balance and guaranteeing security of supply 24 hours a day.

The transformation of the energy landscape, due to ongoing trends such as digitalization, decentralization and electrification (more info here), faces the Elia Group with higher complexity and challenges to forecast, operate and control the grid. As a result, the focus is gradually being shifted from controlling a few large installations to managing a sum of decentral and small units.

On the other hand, the rise of digitalization, technologies and the availability of data enable TSOs to properly manage this increase of complexity. Digitalization is therefore an opportunity but also a threat: more data collection and open, interconnected systems go along with an increasing need of security. Ensuring a reliable electrical system is no longer just a matter of protecting physical assets, but in providing overall solutions that secure both bits and electrons.

Therefore, we organize this Open Innovation Challenge to discover your solutions:

Can your company support Elia Group in one of its core activities?

We are looking for start-up companies, with great ideas and digital technologies, to build a proof of concept with us, designed to improve the security of our assets and data, but also to increase the protection and respect of privacy of our personnel, customers and other stakeholders.

Apply on this page to become one of the selected five start-ups that will pitch their project in front of senior executives of Elia Group on June 11th in Brussels.

The winning start-up will be awarded with a supervised pilot project and this company will be able to test its technology in Elia Group’s challenging environment and receive €20,000 in return.

Why is Elia Group investing?

Elia Group has a large social responsibility to ensure that electricity reaches all outlets and to upgrade its infrastructure for a sustainable future. Elia Group is a forward thinking company that is constantly working on maintaining and improving its infrastructure and way of working. The company has a clear ambition to use the agility and technology provided by start-ups to empower the business and services in order to reach its ambitious innovation goals.

The Open Innovation Challenge is an excellent opportunity for start-ups to work with a large energy company, in a program that is designed to help the start-up succeed and walk away with an actual collaboration agreement after a successful and paid pilot project. Due to the increased visibility of start-ups, the previous editions of the competition have also led to collaborations between Elia Group and participating start-ups, who did not win.

Innovation is about building ecosystems, be able to collaborate with others, to exchange ideas, try things out and build, together, a brighter future.

Michael von Roeder, Elia Group Chief Digital Officer

We want to be challenged!

We are open-minded and welcome all creative suggestions to enhance the security of the energy transition. We encourage start-ups that are working with technologies like cyber security, IoT, AI, machine learning, blockchain, big data and much more to come forward and help us tackle our challenges.

Here are just a few examples of fields of applications to clarify the topic and scope of the challenge:

Access management of assets and data

Start-ups applying digital solutions to authorize or manage access to physical sites, installations (for example by verifying a person’s identification by means of biometrical or physical means; tools to improve and/or automate physical access management to make it more user friendly, cost-efficient or interoperable)

Start-ups improving the private data access and handling management (for example by facilitating the consent management of (sub)meter data, in conformity with GDPR regulation)

Prevention and detection

Start-ups that deliver solutions to detect and even forecast abnormal behavior or intrusion to physical assets, together with appropriate measures to respond (for example, use of behavioral analysis to detect anomalies, theft of copper lines or tools; use of smart sensors to identify unknown individuals or drones).

Start-ups providing solutions to identify irrational values or behavior in data exchange (for example applying technologies to detect abnormal or illogical values in communication between substations and central control system, detection of coordinated, but individual, connection requests to substations, etc.).

Guarantee of origin / authenticity

Start-ups able to create an ecosystem to encrypt and secure a growing number of decentral gateways (for example managing the distribution and validation of encryption keys and validation keys in the framework of Internet of Energy, an ecosystem to develop innovative new energy services)

Start-ups capable of proving the authenticity of the data source or the data received (for example to guarantee the authenticity of critical certificates or documents; to unveil fake external communication in name of Elia Group or its management)

Reactive handling

Start-ups capable of mitigating intrusions in our installations, mitigating theft of physical assets, by delaying certain events or responding to them.

Start-ups that deliver solutions to recover from an intrusion to data bases or IT infrastructure (for example by providing options to restore databases, recover data losses, mislead hackers)


This is a non-exhaustive overview, we are open for other suggestions you might have and are looking forward to your solution. Be creative, think out of the box, while taking into account the challenging environment we are evolving in!

Challenge’s rules

Interested in participating? Get to know the rules of the game first!

Read the full description of rules

The application process

Registration phase

Fill the mandatory question form and upload a 10 slides presentation until the March 30th.

Pre-selection phase

A designated jury chooses the 20 best start-ups.

Mentoring phase

The selected start-ups are assigned a mentor from Elia Group.
Afterwards, each company uploads a 20 slides presentation based on the jury's recommendations and interaction with their mentor.

Final selection

A designed jury chooses the 5 best startups which will participate in the final.
The 5 best startups will have 2 weeks to prepare their final presentation.

Final event

Round table and award ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.

Live Streaming

Live Streaming

Follow live the closing event of the 4th edition of the Open Innovation Challenge. The "watch now" button will be available on September 10th.

Have a look on all our ongoing challenges

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