Three start-ups win OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge 2023, to pilot solutions with TotalEnergies

Winners of the OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge will begin piloting their solutions with TotalEnergies in 1H2024.

India-based Nunam Technologies, a second-hand lithium-ion based technology solutions provider; Spain-based clean technology start-up Bia Power; and Philippines-based sustainable sealant producer Pili Seal have emerged as the winners of the second edition of the OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge.

Each winner will receive $50,000 in pilot funding from OCBC. They will be piloting their winning solutions with the subsidiaries of global energy company TotalEnergies in 1H2024, according to OCBC and TotalEnergies in a Nov 17 statement.

First launched in 2022, the OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge aims to co-create innovative sustainable solutions with businesses, while providing aspiring solution providers a platform to showcase and scale their innovations.

This year’s challenge saw close to 90 submissions from 27 countries around the world, responding to the four challenge statements issued by TotalEnergies. They are: repurposing electric vehicle (EV) batteries for safe redeployment in new applications, increasing the penetration of distribution generation systems in Asia, developing cost-effective solutions integrating renewable energy sources to increase the efficiency of EV charging infrastructure and developing greener raw materials for manufacturing.

The winning solutions

Nunam Technologies started out repurposing used personal laptop battery cells and has since built on that experience to upcycle EV batteries and extend their lifespan.

The repurposed internet-connected battery systems are scalable, modular and suitable to be used in a wide range of applications, says the company, from small-scale hybrid solar residential systems to commercial and industrial uninterruptible power supply backup needs.

Meanwhile, Bia Power developed a smart charging algorithm that monitors, plans and optimises EV charging loads.

The company projects that it can allow up to 80% more EV charging in environments where power capacity is limited, reduce electricity costs by up to 50% and optimise power sources.

In the Philippines, the sap of the Pili tree commonly undergoes a hydrodistillation process to yield essential oils. A by-product of this process is the spent pili resin, which is usually discarded.

Pili Seal developed a patented way to process this spent resin further to yield an industrial grade, two-in-one sealant-adhesive — Pili Seal — which it claims has “significant” health benefits over commercially available chemical-based sealant adhesives.

Pili Seal has been tested in the aviation and building and construction industries. The market for Pili Seal is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 6% from now till 2026.

Pilot in 1H2024

Winners of the OCBC Sustainability Innovation Challenge will begin piloting their solutions with TotalEnergies in 1H2024.

They are also being fast-tracked into the final jury phase of TotalEnergies On, taking place in February 2024. TotalEnergies On is the company’s start-up accelerator programme dedicated to electricity businesses at Paris-based Station F — the largest start-up campus in the world.

Launched in May 2022, the accelerator programme aims to identify and provide guidance to promising start-ups to develop innovative solutions in the electricity and renewables business.

Winners of the programme will be offered access to an “international group of new energy experts”, says TotalEnergies, as well as a network of over 150 leading venture capital investment funds.

These winners will also work closely with various TotalEnergies teams to test and improve their innovative products, services and business models.

Mike Ng, group chief sustainability officer, OCBC, says one of the bank’s core strategic priorities is to drive the transition to a low-carbon world. “This year’s winners impressed us with their keen understanding of the gaps in the renewable energies and sustainable mobility market, and the technical soundness and potential commercial viability of their solutions. We are committed to supporting them and more aspiring solution providers to bring their innovations to fruition.”

Liang Ting Wee, country chair of Singapore and president of marketing and services at TotalEnergies Asia-Pacific and Middle East says innovation plays a critical role in accelerating our energy transition progress, and the company has invested over US$1 billion ($1.35 billion) in R&D and innovation, of which 65% is dedicated to decarbonisation solutions.

“As we continue to push forth the frontiers of innovation, partnering like-minded players such as OCBC on this challenge, enables us to co-create and implement innovative sustainable solutions with start-ups,” Liang adds. “It also allows TotalEnergies to keep abreast of new technologies that are relevant to our business, thus helping to future-proof our existing solutions to better serve customers.”

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