The Nordic Energy Challenge 2024 has been launched, themed around Citizen Engagement. Nordic Energy Research is looking forward to seeing this year’s proposals, as the line-up for 2023 showed great comprehensiveness, reflectiveness, and level of detail. We checked in with the winners of last year, Foivos Maniatis and Ignacio Moreno Roche, who are a true source of inspiration. They won first prize for their idea on circular economy and hydrogen microgrids. Today, their idea has evolved into the startup Elysium Energy. What has their journey looked like since they took on the Nordic Energy Challenge?

“Winning the Nordic Energy Challenge last year marked a significant milestone for us”

Participating in the Nordic Energy Challenge last year has opened new doors for the dynamic duo. “Winning the Nordic Energy Challenge last year marked a significant milestone for us, serving as the first validation of our idea about the diversification of renewable energy technology and distributed energy systems in the Nordics. This project, which was then in the idea phase, set the seed for what has now grown to be our startup, Elysium Energy. We are addressing the same problems that the energy challenge was aiming to address, but on a more applied and commercial level,” says Foivos.

Ignacio agrees with Foivos – that the win in 2023 was an inspiring and affirming experience for their team.

“It meant a lot to us, and it was a boost in terms of motivation and confidence to continue believing in what we are doing. The support and feedback from the Nordic Energy Research community have been instrumental in refining our approach, getting to know the state-of-the-art, and expanding our impact. Nordic Energy Research gave us visibility, which in turn attracted interest from potential partners and investors who are key to our future growth,” says Ignacio.

Ignacio Moreno Roche and Foivos Maniatis.

Financially and friendly rewarding

When asked about what they gained from partaking in the challenge in 2023, both Foivos and Ignacio highlighted the Joint PhD & Researcher Mobility Conference in Gotland, Sweden, where the announcement of their win and award ceremony took place.

“First of all, being in Gotland provided us with invaluable connections to a diverse group of energy experts, from those specializing in flow batteries to biomass solutions. The opportunity to exchange ideas with them in a relaxed setting was the most rewarding part of the experience,” says Ignacio.

“Yes, the largest gain from the overall experience was the participation in the conference in Visby and the connections as well as memories we made there,” says Foivos.

Additionally, they point out how the Nordic Energy Challenge worked as a proper nudge in the right direction for their idea. According to Foivos, the competition put him and Ignacio through a process of making a first-phase draft, an alpha version, of a problem and solution formulation for what has now become a business and value proposition.

“The process of crafting our application helped clarify and strengthen parts of our project that were previously a bit uncertain. It’s true what they say: you don’t fully understand something until you can explain it simply,” says Ignacio, adding that “the economic prize helped us in the process of starting the company.”

Dream big and don’t hold back

Last but not least, Foivos and Ignacio share some well-chosen words with future participants. What would they like to say to those who are considering taking part in the Nordic Energy Challenge 2024?

“For those pondering whether to take part in this year’s challenge, I’d say: Dream big. If you believe in your idea’s potential, don’t hold back. Put your all into it and take that leap. It’s going to push you out of your comfort zone, but that’s exactly where growth happens. Embrace the discomfort as part of the journey towards making a real impact,” says Ignacio.

“Anyone regardless of age, background, or expertise should consider participating and putting themselves in the position of writing down and testing the ideas they have for solving a specific set of problems, this year being citizen engagement. Modern problems necessitate innovative solutions from a diverse background of problem solvers. The Nordic Energy Challenge offers a platform for those ready to test and refine their ideas on citizen engagement and beyond. We encourage you to embrace this opportunity to impact the future positively,” Foivos concludes.

Do you want to participate?

The Nordic Energy Challenge is open to abstracts from actors both from and outside of the Nordic region until 16 May, 2024. Read more about the competition, deadlines, and how to participate here.