Status of the challenge: Selection ongoing

Open Innovation Challenge 2022: Sustainability


€20,000 for a PoC with Elia Group

Mentoring, training, and visibility

Information details

Who can participate

Start-ups from around the world, classified as minimum early stage (not ideation phase)

Registration deadline

31st March 2022

Status of the challenge

Selection ongoing

OIC 2022: Sustainability

This year’s Open Innovation Challenge – our sixth challenge – is focused on embedding sustainability across all of our value chain processes. We want to ensure circularity, efficiency and resilience are baked into the way we operate our grid.

The topic has been divided into the four categories outlined below. A list of possible questions that submissions can address is included under each category. Please note that these topics and questions are not exhaustive – instead, they are intended to give you a flavour of the kind of projects we are looking for.


  1. Efficiency: reducing emissions generated by our own assets or network

How can we make our battery cooling systems more efficient in substations?

How can we reduce the energy demand for heating, ventilation and lighting in our substations?

How can we reduce grid losses from overhead lines?


  1. Circularity: increasing the use of circular materials

How can we sustainably design or recycle underground cables?

Which circular materials can be used instead of copper, steel, etc.?

How can we ensure that we use 100% recycled steel or copper?

What other materials which have positive effects on marine environments (such as our offshore installations) could be used?


  1. Resilience: dealing with local climate change impacts and events

How can we protect batteries or assets from heat waves?

How can we quickly recover from flooding in our substations?


  1. Outside the box

Any good idea that does not immediately fit into one of the three categories above: surprise and challenge us!


Are you an early stage start-up?

Have you and your colleagues got what it takes to win €20,000?

Apply now to take part in this year’s Open Innovation Challenge!


As a driver of the energy transition, Elia Group is working hard to make the European Green Deal a reality. As a company which comprises two transmission system operators – Elia in Belgium and 50Hertz in Germany – we are preparing our grid and the electricity system for the integration of increasing amounts of renewable energy – ultimately helping society to reach net zero.

At the same time, we want to reduce the impact our activities have on the environment. Through our ActNow programme, we are embedding sustainability across all of our activities. We are committed to: reducing our direct C02 emissions; increasing biodiversity around our sites; improving our health and safety processes; becoming a truly diverse and inclusive organisation; and introducing circularity and eco-design into our use of materials and assets.

We can’t do this alone – we need partners from across the energy value chain to help us reach these goals. This is where you can help: we believe that start-ups can provide us with the innovation and inspiration we need to succeed.

The information below provides details about this year’s challenge; what benefits you will gain from taking part; key dates; and the rules and eligibility requirements that start-ups must meet to take part.

If you can’t find the information you need on this page, you can submit any additional questions you might have about the challenge to the following email address:

Good luck!


TideWise: last year’s winning team


To meet last year’s winners, and get a flavor of what it’s like to participate in the Open Innovation Challenge, watch the video below.

Terms and Conditions

The Open Innovation Challenge 2022 is open to start-ups from all around the world. Start-ups should be registered on the trade register of the country in which their headquarters are based. They should: hold a valid professional insurance policy; and be able to supply a registration certificate issued within the last three months which certifies that they comply with the social and tax legislation which they are subject to. Start-ups should be classified as ‘early stage’ (at a minimum); this means ideation phase solutions will not be accepted.

• Start-ups who wish to apply to take part in OIC 2022 must do so by submitting an application form via this website here.
• Teams must fill out the entire application form in English. Partially completed applications will not be accepted. Any supporting documentation included in applications must also be in English.
• The application portal will close on 31 March 2022 at 11:59pm (CET).

Read the full description of rules

Selection Process

1. Project submissions

Start-up teams wishing to take part in this year’s OIC will need to submit their projects for consideration between the two dates above (see information about how do to this in the ‘Terms and Conditions’ section below). Up to 15 teams will be invited to take part in the mentoring phase (see below) based on these submissions.

2. Mentoring phase

Expert mentors from Elia or 50Hertz will be assigned to each of these 15 start-up teams, providing them with insights into Elia Group’s operations and activities. Teams will be supported to develop a concrete proof of concept throughout this six-week mentoring phase. The competition judges will then invite 5 of these teams to take part in the final in June; a short promotional video of each of these 5 teams will be produced.

OIC final

The 5 successful teams will be invited to pitch their proposals to the competition judges during the final, which will be organised as a livestreamed event. A winning team will then be selected by the judges.
This winning team will then be invited to take part in a celebratory event in Brussels. Elia Group staff, players from across the energy value chain and politicians will be in attendance.

Have a look on all our ongoing challenges

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