“A Coalition Of The Willing”

Ramses Villa, Benelux Business Creation Manager at EIT InnoEnergy (Photo © Stephanie Jabardo / Silicon Luxembourg)

EIT InnoEnergy is a public-private partnership working on accelerating the energy transition and decarbonising Europe by 2050. Silicon Luxembourg caught up with Ramses Villa, Benelux Business Creation Manager to discuss the Fit for 55 initiative, Luxembourg’s progress, and the need for more R&D investment.

What is the Fit for 55 initiative and how is InnoEnergy involved in it?

Fit for 55 is an interim policy objective of the European Commission that was set up to ensure that we are progressing towards the commissions’ goals of achieving net-zero by 2050. It encompasses a number of policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

One of InnoEnergy’s main objectives is to accelerate sustainable energy innovation. Our role is to foster entrepreneurship and be a catalyst for breakthrough innovation that will play a key role in the energy transition. We see ourselves as enablers of technology by investing in innovative startups that support this transition.

In December 2021, InnoEnergy organised an informative event to explore the key challenges and opportunities that the “Fit for 55 package” present for Luxembourg and its stakeholders. What were your takeaways from this debate?

Overall, it was a positive engagement from all parties: industry, government, banking, and startups. Each of these actors will contribute individually based on their own interest and agenda but more importantly, a collective and collaborating approach is much needed to align in the greater picture to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Government needs to work with Industry to set realistic target emissions. Industry needs to work with startups to adopt innovation. And the finance sector needs to fund this transition. A “coalition of the willing” in the energy transition is the best approach to meet these targets.

“We have invested in more than 200 innovative ventures, many of these are now scale-ups and in a growth stage.”

Ramses Villa, Benelux Business Creation Manager at EIT InnoEnergy

What technological innovations have the biggest potential to help achieve the 2050 climate goals?

Right now, industries, municipalities, and even households can already start taking action to reduce emissions by implementing available technology. For example, investing in solar panels, making use of heat pumps to divest from natural gas and by refurbishing homes and buildings to be more energy-efficient. But there is a lack of information on these proven technologies and the subsidies available are not always easily accessible (bureaucratic).

In the long-term, one of the biggest challenges we must solve is the intermittency of renewable energy sources. Wind and sun are not always available, so we need to find ways to store large amounts of energy for days where renewable sources are not present. This will require massive investment and scalable innovations on the level of energy storage.

How can Luxembourg’s startup ecosystem support the energy transition more?

Being Luxembourg a global financial centre, it is only natural to have a dynamic startup ecosystem, particularly within fintechs. Also, Green finance is “hype” but unfortunately many are driven by greenwashing investment.

There are good initiatives in the cleantech domain and circular economy activities. LIST and Luxinnovation are important players addressing the energy transition and we collaborate closely.

The government is promoting and investing heavily in the space industry. I’d like to see the same level of investment in cleantech and to create a national champion that supports only energy transition startup/projects.

How optimistic are you about achieving the Fit For 55 goals when looking at InnoEnergy’s investment portfolio?

We have invested in more than 200 innovative ventures, many of these are now scale-ups and in a growth stage. Today, there are more and more cleantech and impact investors investing in climate change startups. So, it has never been a better time for cleantech innovators to raise funding.

This article was first published in the Silicon Luxembourg magazine. Read the full digital version of the magazine on our website, here. You can also choose to receive a hard copy at the office or at home. Subscribe now.

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