Techstars Heads to Norway in Search of Energy Startups with Statoil

Global startup launcher Techstars plans to run a program next year in Oslo, with Norwegian state-owned energy giant Statoil, focused on startups working in the energy industry.

Statoil (NYSE: STOS) is a 45-year-old vertically integrated oil and gas giant with deep expertise in offshore exploration and drilling, as well as a significant hydroelectric and wind energy portfolio, after its merger a decade ago with Norsk Hydro.

Audun Abelsnes, a Norwegian technology executive, investor, and company founder, will direct Techstars Energy, after spending the last nine months as an entrepreneur in residence.

“Norway is internationally recognized for energy so it only makes sense that this is the focus of our first Norwegian accelerator,” Abelsnes writes in a blog post announcing the new accelerator Wednesday.

In recent years, Techstars has introduced several accelerator programs in partnership with corporations and focused on specific vertical industries and technologies, including retail, music, mobility, autonomous tech, and Amazon Alexa. With the introduction of the Energy accelerators, Techstars now has 32 programs at sites across the U.S. and around the globe.

“Unprecedented change is taking place in the energy industry,” Abelsnes says in a Statoil news release. “We have proven that the Techstars model works in several other industries facing change and potential disruption and we are excited to see what kind of ideas and solutions we can accelerate within energy.”

The Energy accelerator is seeking startups for the program focused on a wide range of potential applications, though a more refined main theme is to be announced in November. Applications will be accepted beginning in February, and the 13-week accelerator program would run in September 2018.

“Companies in the program will focus on developing potentially transformative technologies and business models across the energy sector to improve safety, security, capital efficiency, operational performance and sustainability,” Abelsnes writes.

Abelsnes, left, and Ulvik. Photo by Ole Jørgen Bratland / Statoil

From Statoil’s perspective, the partnership with Techstars is a recognition “that the ideas and solutions of the future are as likely to come from outside the company as within,” says Ragnhild Ulvik, the company’s vice president for corporate innovation, in the news release.

Companies selected for the accelerator will have access to mentors, including energy industry experts from Statoil, as well as Techstars’ standard $120,000 investment—$20,000 in exchange for 6 percent equity, and a $100,000 convertible debt note—and a host of other resources and perks.

Statoil will also have an option to invest through its corporate venture capital arms.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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