Dogpatch Labs and ESB sign five-year incubator partnership

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The deal will see the start-up hub operate ESB’s internal innovation programme, X-Potential, through 2025.

ESB and Dogpatch Labs, the Dublin-based start-up hub, have announced a five-year deal that will see the latter run ESB’s X-Potential incubator.

The annual three-month programme allows ESB staff to bring forward low-carbon ideas for the business. In this format, they will work in teams to develop these ideas with supporting experts brought in by Dogpatch. In the end they will pitch their proposals to senior management on the closing Demo Day.

Denis O’Leary, head of strategy and innovation at ESB, said: “We have immense entrepreneurial talent within ESB, and by immersing staff within the Dogpatch start-up community we’ve seen what they can achieve. It’s very impressive.

“The length and scale of this new partnership demonstrates our belief in this programme and our staff’s ability to bring new sustainable business ideas to life.”

Dogpatch was chosen by ESB for the contract after a tender process, having previously run the X-Potential programme in 2019 and 2020.

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David Power, Dogpatch’s director of innovation, commented: “ESB has never been afraid to think big, and our work to date has proven that there is an abundance of entrepreneurial talent within the company. The key to success is instilling a start-up mindset. Staff need the environment, structure and network to bring new, impactful propositions to life. That’s what we do at Dogpatch.”

The 2020 X-Potential accelerator saw five proposals progress to the stage of securing funding, setting up pilot programmes, or agreeing partnerships.

Geraldine Moloney, ESB’s head of new business incubation, added: “At ESB we’re acutely aware that the energy sector is changing – from offshore wind and hydrogen storage along with the increased adoption of electric vehicles. ESB is on the front line of an energy revolution. Dogpatch Labs have a proven innovation process and give us access to a global network of entrepreneurs, potential partners and sector expertise.”

As well as the internal X-Potential programme, ESB also runs Free Electrons, an accelerator that gives external start-ups in the energy sector access to mentorship and the potential to win funding. In April, the company announced plans to establish a green energy hub at Moneypoint.

In December, Dogpatch Labs secured Ireland’s National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) contract, worth €17m. Last month, it revealed a final cohort of 11 start-ups from the 500 applications it received for the 2021 NDRC programme.