Danube Energy+ - Building an ecosystem for young entrepreneurs


How we produce and consume energy will profoundly influence our future. To shift to a more sustainable way of life, technological innovations are essential. With a new learning programme to support energy efficiency start-ups in Danube countries, Danube Energy+ project helps to retain the benefits of innovation in our region.

July 16, 2021


Energy Business Camp 2019, Germany. Image: Danube Energy+

Due to the lack of a supportive environment in the Danube region, young innovators leave for better opportunities abroad, depriving the region of an important source of innovation for the future. This is nowhere truer than in the energy sector, which is crucial when it comes to transformation of the economy towards more sustainable paths. How could we support the bright minds to stay and pioneer change in energy efficiency in the Danube region instead? 

Creating an enabling environment

Danube Energy+ project developed a learning programme to boost young innovators' competences and to start successful ventures inside the region. By first mapping relevant stakeholders and policy frameworks, partners under the Danube Energy+ project wanted to ensure that a new pre-seed/pre-acceleration learning programme is applicable across the region. Then, the programme's design and development focusing on energy efficiency challenges, business development as well as sales and pitching, started. In parallel, work commenced on the development of the Danube Energy+ Ecosystem Package, an innovative system for identifying, motivating and connecting young innovators to representatives of SMEs, industry experts, policy actors and previously successful start-ups in the field. Finally, to incorporate the Danube Energy+ ecosystem into regional policies, regional Danube Energy+ Hubs were established to help young innovators in the realization of their ideas after the project ends.

Danube Energy+ Tool Pilots

The first pilot of the programme was implemented by InnoEnergy, the Lead Partner of the project, in Germany. This was followed by pilots in other partnering countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine), with up to 111 companies having taken part in the programme so far. Several of the programme's graduates are now pursuing their own ventures or have successfuly participated in the region's startup competitions, such as, for instance, the e4 TESTIVAL Start-up Award 2020 in Baden-Württemberg, or the NASA International Space Apps Challenge competition. With ever more graduates on their way to business endeavors, Danube Energy+ project is already contributing to more energy sector innovations originating in the Danube region.


“Danube Energy+ gave me the push I needed to start my own company and it helped me learn how to identify customers’ needs.”

Alexandru Luchiian, Fermierul 4.0, Romania, 2020 Global Finalist of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge



Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)