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Start-Up Ecosystem 2021: Investments heating up

Start-ups are the critical agents of innovation and change in any emerging industry. They foster swift R&D and investments in innovative technologies and new business models, by creating immense value over new businesses and markets under a culture of competitive dynamism.

The emerging 'trio' of e-mobility, energy storage, and hydrogen sectors are the hotspots of start-up activities in recent times, not just in India, but across the globe. ETN brings you a brief catch-up of a few leading start-up companies in each of these three sectors that have hit the headlines in 2021. 

E-mobility

ElectricPe

Founded in May 2021 by Avinash Sharma and Raghav Rohila, ElectricPe is building India's largest network of EV charging points in its app-based platform, by partnering with independent charge point operators and chain charging stations. Users can locate charging points based on proximity to their location or charging rates. The start-up has also raised $3 million in a seed-funding round led by Blume Ventures and Micelio Fund last month.

Cell Propulsion

With a mission to usher in large-scale electrification of commercial vehicles using electric propulsion and connected technologies, this Bengaluru start-up is led by former ISRO engineers. This year, the company has raised about $2 million from its existing investors. The fresh capital will aid in expanding its EV development and operations, with its 'go-to-market strategy' and an 'integrated ecosystem' to accelerate e-CV adoption. The latest funding comes on the back of a $1 million capital infusion as part of its pre-series A round in September 2020, thereby taking the total funds raised by the startup to about $ 4 million.

Raptee Energy

The Chennai-based e-2W startup, with a mission to build an affordable electric motorcycle with an advanced connected and performance-oriented drivetrain, has raised $700,000 of funding from several investors, predominantly HNIs and angels, this year. Raptee says that their product is developed from scratch indigenously with over 90 percent localization of components.

Revolt Intellicorp

This Gurugram-based electric motorcycle startup, founded by Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma, has raised ₹150 crore in funding from diversified Rattan India Group, wherein the latter has bought a 43 percent stake in the company. Revolt says the newly raised capital will help the company to reach South Asian markets and expand pan-India.

MoEVing

Claimed as India's first holistic EV tech platform, MoEVing has emerged in a big way this year with multiple OEM partnerships and operations in three big cities. The startup is adopting a 'full-stack' approach to clean delivery operations and 'charging-as-as service' to its customers. It has raised over $1 million of seed funding until now, which is expected to boost its fleet presence and expand into other metros and big cities. 

ElecTorq

India's first accelerator venture capital 9Unicorns has led an undisclosed pre-Series A funding round in e-mobility startup ElecTorq this year. Focusing on last-mile e-mobility solutions for gig workers and businesses, the startup's unique approach lies in its integration of e-2W fleet and cloud-based fleet management, charging and swapping stations, and connected intelligence modules. 

Cellestial E-mobility

In 2020, this Hyderabad-based start-up became the first company to develop and offer all-electric and smart-connected tractors for the domestic market. In 2019, it started with a $2,00,000 investment from a Singapore-based angel investor, followed by $ 6-8 million in the next six months, Cellestial E-mobility raised another significant funding of $5,00,000 in 2021 as well. The company is expected to make immense progress in expanding its market reach and product portfolio in the coming years.

goEgoNetwork

Pune's EV charging startup goEgoNetwork has secured $2 million seed funding in August this year. Founded in 2019, the company is expanding its existing electric charging network, with reliable and smart-connected charging stations throughout the country, built and serviced entirely under the Make-in-India initiative. 

RACEnergy

This EV infrastructure startup based in Hyderabad has raised $1.3 million in its seed+ round led by Micelio Fund and growX ventures recently. Part of Huddle's EV accelerator program, RACEnergy garnered $500,000 in its seed round last year led by angel investors. The company is fast enhancing its R&D and scaling of its battery swapping technology and infrastructure, while also fulfilling the pre-orders in and around Hyderabad and nearby cities. 

Battery Smart

This Battery-as-a-service (BaaS) startup has raised a pre-Series A round of $ 7 million led by Blume Ventures and Orios Ventures. These funds will upgrade the company's battery technology to serve 10,000 EVs daily and expand to 3 new states by FY22. The startup already has over 100 swap stations in the Delhi NCR region and has completed 3 lakh battery swaps along with powering 10 million emission-free kms. It uses IoT-enabled batteries and data driven methodology for effective network and service delivery. 

Energy Storage

Indi Energy

This energy storage start-up based in Uttarakhand is committed to developing energy storage technologies such as lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries, and supercapacitors. This year, Indi Energy received investments from Mumbai Angels Network, a startup investment platform for early-stage venture investments. Starting in 2019, the startup claims to have has made breakthroughs in Sodium-ion batteries with its energy density 3-4 times better than the currently-available commercialized lead-acid batteries.

Energy Vault

Swiss-based energy storage company Energy Vault has garnered $ 100 million in Series C funding this year. The firm is into gravity-based, grid-scale energy storage solutions with proprietary technologies offering flexibility to address evolving duration needs of large utility and power companies for both higher power and custom duration storage requirements.

Grinntech

The IIT-Madras incubated start-up specializing in Li-ion batteries for E2W and energy storage closed bridge round of funding worth $2 million in mid- this year. This is expected to stabilize the company and help its R&D in churning new standards in battery safety, energy density, power management and customization for different needs of customers. 

Log9 Materials

Using its core competence in Graphene nanotechnology, this battery startup is developing advanced energy storage technologies from electrode materials. Recently, Log9 Materials raised $8.5 million in a funding round led by Amara Raja Batteries, in which the startup has gained equity partnership and collaboration with the battery giant as well. A month later, the company raised another $2 million in a new round led by Malaysia-based Petronas Ventures. These funds will be utilized to expand production capacity and business development efforts of the company's latest innovation in rapid charging batteries that are already in the final stages of development. 

Cheesecake Energy

British energy storage startup Cheesecake Energy has secured a €1.1 million seed investment round, led by The Imperial College Innovation Fund (ICIF). The company is developing a green energy storage technology known as 'eTanker' that stores electricity in the form of compressed air and heat. It claims that the product is suitable for a range of terrains and applications, including local renewable microgrids, electric vehicle fleet charging, and heavy industry. It is targeting the medium-duration energy storage market in the region. 

GODI Energy

Hyderabad-based battery technology startup Godi India Pvt Ltd has raised fresh funds this year to set up their localized supercapacitor and Li-ion cell manufacturing facilities in India and continue developing materials with cell chemistries, superiorly engineered batteries, and supercapacitor cells. The company aims to bring down the cell costs by 25-35 percent per kWh, with ethical sourcing of materials with minimal environmental impact. 

ION Energy

Battery management and intelligence platform ION Energy has raised $3.6 million in its pre-Series A funding led by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund. This will enable the Mumbai-based startup to grow its team to over 125 from 70 at present, and also help product development and expansion of its software business in North America and Europe. The company is focused on building technologies that improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

Ruchira Green Earth

Part of Ruchira Group, the company is emerging as one of the leading manufacturers of Li-ion batteries in India, largely for e-scooters, under 'AKIRA' brand. With a current production capacity of 5,000 units per month, Ruchira Green Earth is investing in a new ₹ 200 crore manufacturing facility in Haryana. It is also expecting fresh investments in the next 3-4 years, thereby expanding its reach to other segments including batteries for energy storage, solar, telecom, etc. 

EnerVenue

This California-based startup has raised $ 100 million to accelerate clean energy storage using nickel-hydrogen batteries. EnerVenue is into building simple, safe, maintenance-free energy storage for the clean energy ecosystem, based on proven and reliable technologies, now scaled for large renewable energy integration applications.

Yotta Energy

This US-based company has pioneered a decentralized approach to deploying solar and storage systems that scale to meet the energy demands in built environments. Recently, Yotta Energy received $13 million in a Series A funding round, taking the total raised fundings to $20 million to date. This will enable the company to expand product deployment in the U.S. and Latin America. It will also use the funding to scale its modular energy storage and microgrid technology to transform buildings into self-generating power projects.

Hydrogen

Airflow

Founded in 2019, this US-based startup's mission is to develop electric Short Take-Off and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft for regional cargo and passenger travel. Recently, the company has received investments from Plug Power Inc. to co-develop and certify a hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system designed for a new generation of sub-regional aircraft. Plug Power is already engaged in promoting its 'ProGen'-based hydrogen fuel cell stack specifically for aerospace applications. Fresh investments will enable Airflow to rapidly meet customer demand and broaden the application of hydrogen propulsion solutions including batteries and sustainable aviation fuel hybrid solutions. 

Sentient Labs

The R&D innovation startup incubated by KPIT Technologies is making immense progress in developing indigenous and complete hydrogen fuel-cell-based mobility solutions in India. Together with KPIT Technologies that been using automotive-grade PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell technology to experiment with mobility solutions since 2016, the startup has also developed a pioneering technology that generates hydrogen directly from agricultural residue for use in FCVs. 

h2e Power Systems

Pune-based h2e Power is developing India's first integrated hydrogen fuel cell three-wheeler using proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and innovative hydrogen cylinders in collaboration with Canada-based company 'Hydrogen in Motion'. Since 2018, the company is commercializing a 1KW fuel cell system and developing prototypes for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) based EV charging infrastructure. Last year, it has also invested in a pilot manufacturing facility in Pune for green hydrogen and SOFC.

Infinite Blue Energy

Founded in Australia last year, this energy startup is envisaging a sustainable green Hydrogen future using water, solar and wind energy with no carbon debt. The company is gearing up to deliver commercial scale projects to supply renewable hydrogen to the evolving domestic and international markets. With near-term commercial viability of green hydrogen, the startup is expected to raise significant investments in the coming years. 

NanoSUN

Based in Lancaster, NanoSUN is into hydrogen distribution and mobile refueling equipment for FCV users and fleets. This year, the company has secured £12 million of new funding in its Series A round, led by HydrogenOne Capital Growth plc and including the German Westfalen Group. Its business model is focused on selling or leasing mobile refueling stations to owners and operators of hydrogen fuel supply chains, to ensure maximum acceleration in the rollout of hydrogen vehicles. With the hydrogen market opening up in Europe, NanoSUN claims to have a significant order book for delivery in 2022. 

Aerostovilos

This IIT-M-based startup company is into manufacturing fuel-flexible generators up to a few hundred of kWs for power-based application. Aerostovilos is now readying a gas turbine that can run on conventional fuels, hydrogen, or a mix of both, to produce power to drive an EV, thereby furthering hydrogen usage without fuel cell technology. To make this product market-ready, the company would need $ 4million investments, hence it is going for a new round of funding in the coming months from private equity players and venture capitalists. 

H2Pro

Israeli startup H2Pro made headlines this year to make cheap green hydrogen after securing investments from funds backed by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing. The company is able to produce about 100 grams of hydrogen a day with a lab prototype of its unique technology at present and expects to have a larger model in place very soon. The raised funds will go toward further R&D to make commercial-scale electrolyzers. 

Raven SR

American energy group Chevron and others have invested $20 million in Wyoming-based startup Raven SR to build modular waste-to-green hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuel facilities in California, with plans to go global in the coming years. The startup is focused on technology to develop combustion-free, green hydrogen for transportation that is cleaner than blue hydrogen derived from natural gas.

Electric Hydrogen

This US-based energy startup with a mission to help cost-effectively decarbonize the massive industrial sectors have received $24 million Series A financing led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and joined by Prelude Ventures and Capricorn's Technology Impact Fund. Using low-cost renewable electricity, the company is working on producing clean hydrogen gas. The latest funding will support its continued product development and expand its operations in the Greater Boston and San Francisco Bay Areas. 

Celadyne Technologies

Based in Texas, Celadyne aims to make fuel cells and electrolyzers more viable to power a wide range of applications, including long-haul trucks, drones, and even large-scale industrial processes. It has developed a membrane that can operate at higher temperatures and not rely on high humidity, speeding up the key chemical reactions that power fuel cells and electrolyzers, thereby making cheaper, smaller, and more efficient systems. The startup has received a significant investment from Shell Ventures this year, which is expected to accelerate its progress in the hydrogen sector. 

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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