Ready to shape the future of the energy sector?, Nordic Innovation Accelerator, Nord Pool, Lahti Energia and Fingrid are launching an energy sector innovation challenge to find solutions to promote smart energy usage without the formation of demand clusters.

Application period for Smart Innovation Challenge has ended

About the Smart Energy Innovation Challenge

This challenge calls for any ideas and solutions, which promote smart electricity usage while considering problems the demand cluster formation may cause. The suggested solutions may cover the whole value chain ranging from consumer-oriented price-driven solutions to optimum deployment of energy assets and power flows in distribution networks, and to market participation.

Ten most promising teams are invited to present their ideas for a wide audience including numerous investors in Cleantech Venture Day in Lahti, Finland on 12.-13. June. One or more teams selected by a jury will also be invited to present their idea in Cleantech Venture Day London in October.

The winner of the challenge will receive a consulting package from Nord Pool, aiding them in commercializing and further developing their idea, as well as a one-year licence to use Nord Pool’s data services. Both and Nord Pool are also on the lookout for potential collaboration opportunities, and has earmarked 50 000 euros for this challenge with hopes of finding a promising idea to invest in.

For more information and any questions, please contact Noora Piila,


The usual goal of demand-side management is to encourage the consumer to use less energy during peak hours, or to move the time of energy use to off-peak times such as night-time and weekends. This objective to use electricity in smart way has facilitated formation of a ‘demand cluster’ which is driven by home automation solutions. This demand cluster is expected to be even bigger in the future with wider adoption of electric vehicles.

The end-result is that when the price is at its lowest, the peak in electricity consumption is very high. So high, that local grids may often be unable to handle the load, and in certain cases unnecessarily huge investments might be needed just to be able to cope with the peak hours. Another effect that this type of a demand cluster might have is on price: the suppliers of electricity are forced to buy more electricity at more expensive rates, which will push the price of electricity up.

If you like, you can apply quickly and just leave your basic information. However, all the Challenge partners are willing to support and mentor you in the process. To make that possible, we ask you to answer the follow-on questions.

You have also an option to send us a short video pitch about your idea. Video is optional, but we encourage you to do that as then we can return to you in a week. If you decide to send the video, please have link and possible password to it ready when starting the application.

General guidelines for the application:

  • Not all of the questions are mandatory to answer, but the more detailed application, the more detailed feedback we can provide
  • If you provide a video, please have it ready in Vimeo, Youtube, Dropbox or other service. The link and possible password to the video are asked in the application
  • Do not send material you are not comfortable to share publicly. We hope to understand your idea and business case in detail, but no technical details etc. business secrets are needed

The timeline is as follows:

  • You may fill in your application between April 6th and May 20th.
  • Mentors give feedback and support your idea development via Grid.LAB platform until April 11th.
  • By the end of May, ten teams with best ideas are selected and invited to present their pitch in Cleantech Venture Day in Lahti
  • June 12th mentors help you to finetune your pitch in Helsinki
  • June 13th selected teams pitch their ideas in Cleantech Venture Day Lahti
  • October 2018: three best teams are invited to Cleantech Venture Day London. Anoouncing the winner.

Participation does not cost, but teams travelling to Finland cover their own travel expenses.

Winner is the team who comes up with best solution to the described problem. This is a business case competition, so no actual product needs to be available. We are looking for strong answers to lean canvas and solid plan to realize it. Winner will be elected by jury that consists of the contest partners  

Startups own all the rights to their ideas.

Cleantech Venture Day is the biggest cleantech investment event in the Nordics and it has been organized since 2006 in Lahti, Finland. Over the years more than 200 companies from 11 different countries have pitched in front of international investors and received over 500 MEUR worth investments after the event. In 2017 Cleantech Venture Day expanded to London, UK in collaboration with Cambridge Cleantech. The event was a great success with participants from all over the world, over 90 speed-dating meetings and 20 high-quality pitches from innovative cleantech companies.

Grid.LAB is a process and network run by venture capital company Grid.LAB consists of three elements: mentoring network, piloting opportunities and possible first customers. LAB has been designed to support teams in their journey from idea to the market. Finding the right market fit and getting user and customer feedback early is crucial for success and speed of development. Lean startup has not really been an option in energy field, but we want to change that. More about Grid.LAB here: