A global consortium launches initiative to accelerate the scaling of 100% renewable energy solutions

A group of companies are announcing the launch of the global Bright Minds Challenge to identify and help accelerate the scaling of solutions for 100% renewable energy – focusing on solar and energy storage. The challenge is initiated by DSM, together with Accenture; Greentown Labs; Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, University of Oxford; Solarcentury; SolarAid and Sungevity. The consortium will provide the most promising emerging solutions with a tailored package of commercial, technical and mentoring support to help scientists scale up their solution as quickly as possible.

Helping bright solutions to scale

The companies and organisations behind the #BrightMindsChallenge are committed to 100% renewable energy, and helping to lead the transition to a low carbon economy. The Challenge is designed to help scientists around the world with bright solutions to overcome barriers they face in scaling up their ideas and solutions. Anyone with a solution relevant to renewable energy – focusing on solar and/or renewable energy storage – can submit an entry. The solution needs to be prototyped, and ready to scale up.

Watch the launch video here.

A movement open to all

Members of the public are encouraged to get involved by spreading the message to help find the scientists with solutions, and then to share their submissions and vote for the most promising ones. After a public vote to determine the top 10, a panel of experts will then shortlist the top three and select the winner.

The top three solutions will all receive commercial, technical and mentoring support, with the winner getting 500 hours of tailored help to fast-forward their solution. All entrants will receive valuable exposure for their projects.

The hunt for the solutions starts now, with voting taking place in January and February 2017, and the winners being announced in June 2017. The central platform for the #BrightMindsChallenge is www.sciencecanchangetheworld.org

“The Bright Minds Challenge aims to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and fits perfectly with DSM’s strategic drive to develop sustainable solutions that help combat climate change. We are proud that the member companies are jointly embracing the challenge to capture the power of renewable energy,” says DSM Chief Innovation Officer Rob van Leen. ”This collaboration drives radical innovation and attempts to unlock the potential of bright minds around the world. Together we will offer these scientists the opportunity to take their solutions to the next step for the benefit of society as a whole.

“The development and acceleration of clean energy is key for our planet and crucial to keep our world livable. Accenture’s purpose is to improve the way the world works and lives. Innovating is at the core of what we are. We’re honored to partner in the Bright Minds Challenge which gives us an excellent opportunity to spot and work with some promising innovators. We want to uncover breakthrough innovations that will change the world,” said Rachael Bartels, Accenture Managing Director and Chemicals and Natural Resources lead.

“Greentown Labs joined the Bright Minds Challenge because of how strongly it aligns with our community’s mission: to support cleantech entrepreneurs and innovators with the resources they need to grow their businesses,” said Greentown Labs’ CEO Dr. Emily Reichert. “Thanks to DSM’s support of our community, our cleantech entrepreneurs have access to the breadth of resources, knowledge and expertise DSM has to offer and we believe more startups from around the world should have an opportunity to utilize those amazing resources as well. We’re passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship and technology that will help mitigate climate change, and we know the Bright Minds Challenge will encompass all three of these areas and help turn many scientists’ ideas into reality. We’re excited to hear from inventors from every corner of the globe and we’re proud to be part of such an important movement!”

Jeremy Leggett, Chairman Solar Aid, commented, “The Bright Minds Challenge is an excellent idea which aims to scale up solar power and energy storage across the world. We have seen some great innovations in the last 10 years of SolarAid and helped drive down the cost of solar light in Africa from $25 to $5, but there are still more gains to be made. To overcome the combined threats of climate change and energy security and make clean, affordable, renewable energy available to everyone we need to innovate like never before. If you’ve got an idea please join the challenge and help make solar energy ubiquitous.”

Susannah Wood, CMO at Solarcentury comments, “Supporting this fantastic initiative aligns perfectly with our company mission to make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change by promoting the widespread adoption of solar power. Solar energy is proving itself to be a fundamental part of the global energy mix. We welcome the opportunity to support entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators in their quest to devise solar and storage solutions that accelerate the transition to a low carbon world even faster.”

Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity explains, “Sungevity’s passion is bringing solar power to the masses. This means solar electricity with storage in combination with software and other renewable technologies to make the break to clean energy. That is a purpose worth all of us engaging in. So Sungevity is proudly supporting the Bright Minds Challenge because it is about spreading solar and energy storage and energy breakthroughs to make clean energy happen, faster, sooner and better and engaging the best minds in that exercise.”


Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 384,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Greentown Labs
Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating game-changing energy technologies that transform the way we live, work, and play. Located in Somerville, MA, Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech incubator in the Northeast, operating a 40,000 sq. ft. facility that enables entrepreneurs to solve today’s biggest energy and environmental problems. Greentown Labs hosts a constant stream of events and programs for the cleantech community and tours more than 5,000 visitors from around the world each year. Its mission is to enable a vibrant community of entrepreneurs to realize their visions by providing access to the space, resources, and funding needed to thrive. For more information, visit www.greentownlabs.com.

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School
The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School is a leading academic entity for the advancement of social entrepreneurship worldwide. The Skoll Centre fosters innovative social transformation through world-class education, cutting-edge research, and collaboration among business, policy, academic, and social leaders. It was founded in 2003 with a £4.4 million investment by the Skoll Foundation, the largest funding ever received by a business school for an international program in social entrepreneurship. To find out more about the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship head to www.skollcentre.org

SolarAid is a London-based international charity that believes in business-based solutions to poverty and climate change. SolarAid was founded in 2006 by the solar sector to explore and create clean, safe, affordable energy for all. In 2008 SolarAid created a social enterprise called SunnyMoney to run it’s on the ground operations in Africa. SunnyMoney uses an innovative distribution model to sell solar lights in rural off-grid communities currently dependent on costly, toxic kerosene for lighting. By building a sustainable market for solar products SolarAid and SunnyMoney aim to catalyse emerging solar markets and eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa. www.solar-aid.org

Solarcentury is one of the most respected solar companies in the world. Founded in 1998, we have been around since the early days of the solar industry and have been part of the evolution that has made PV the attractive investment it is today. We have put solar on a greater variety of sites than any other company in the industry, and have won multiple awards for product innovation. We work directly with our clients to design and install commercial, industrial and utility scale solar. We also supply our products and services to installers and distributors. All of our customers benefit from our experience in terms of engineering quality, superior yields and sheer breadth of deployment. We are a big believer in helping solar PV change our world for the better and contribute 5% of our net profits every year to the charity we founded, SolarAid, which aims to eradicate kerosene lamps from Africa by 2020. And our business is global and growing, with offices in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Panama and Mexico. For information about Solarcentury, see archive.solarcentury.com.

Sungevity is a technology company whose platform enables the sale and installation of solar energy systems to residential and commercial customers in the United States and internationally. Sungevity serves customers in 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. The company’s asset-light business model focuses on value-added in-house services for software platform development, project management and customer experience; this focus is enabled by a strong, scalable network of third-party providers for asset-intensive and/or lower margin provision of hardware, installation services and financing. Sungevity’s disruptive and competitive model delivers greater value directly to customers and, for stockholders, captures immediate financial value at the time of sale. For more information visit www.sungevity.com.

DSM – Bright Science. Brighter Living.™
Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. By connecting its unique competences in life sciences and materials sciences DSM is driving economic prosperity, environmental progress and social advances to create sustainable value for all stakeholders simultaneously. DSM delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets such as food and dietary supplements, personal care, feed, medical devices, automotive, paints, electrical and electronics, life protection, alternative energy and bio-based materials. DSM and its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about €10 billion with approximately 25,000 employees. The company is listed on Euronext Amsterdam. More information can be found at www.dsm.com.