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Ampol funds green-tech start-ups

Collaboration with EnergyLab aims to bolster women’s roles in climate-tech sector


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26 May 2022

AMPOL has announced a new partnership with climate technology start-up EnergyLab.


The Sydney-based fuel company says it will provide funding and expertise to support EnergyLab’s Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship (WICEF) – a program designed to inspire, educate and support women across Australia and New Zealand to launch climate technology start-ups.


EnergyLab is Australia and New Zealand’s largest cleantech start-up accelerator and network dedicated to facilitating the region’s transition to clean energy. The business effectively connects founders of climate technology start-ups with mentors, advisors, partners, peers and investors to help overcome what it says are barriers facing the rollout of the technology and solutions necessary to decarbonise the economy.


The firm’s WICEF program, which was inaugurated in 2019 and is one of three offered by EnergyLab, aims to create what it calls “a defined pathway for women entrepreneurs by providing the knowledge, mentorship and access to investment networks”. To date, more than 70 women have successfully graduated from the program.


“EnergyLab is committed to promoting and supporting gender equality in the climate technology sector,” said EnergyLab CEO Megan Fisher.


“With less than 20 per cent of climate tech start-ups being founded by women, there is more focus required on this issue. We thank Ampol for their sponsorship and appreciate the shared commitment to support the next generation of women founders through our Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship.”


Ms Fisher told GoAuto.com that Ampol’s support of the WICEF program would assist founders and startups to grow and scale their climate technologies to help the economy achieve net-zero emissions.


“We’re really excited to have Ampol coming on board as a sponsor for the WICEF. Ampol is providing financial support and generously offering mentoring, industry and technical expertise to support cohort members,” Ms Fisher said.


“EnergyLab is a ‘not for profit’ and has been a charity since 2020. We are an impact-focused organisation with a mission to help founders and start-ups to grow and scale their climate technologies to help the economy achieve net zero.


“We support founders and start-ups with incubation, acceleration and scaleup programs, a 300-expert strong mentor network, coworking spaces, an angel network, events and networking.


“Since being founded in 2017, EnergyLab has had over 130 climate tech start-ups graduate through our programs and we are incredibly proud of the amazing list of alumni we have had over the years – including Amber Electric, Neara, Infravision, Powerpal and Bloom Impact Investing.


“In 2019 we launched the Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship to address the lack of gender diversity in the founders of climate tech start-ups, since then we have had more than 70 women graduate and a number of start-ups launched as a result.


“The transition of the energy system means that many different organisations are in the middle of transforming and taking advantage of what renewable technologies have to offer. It might be traditional vehicles to electric, or coal to wind or solar power (or gas) to hydrogen.


“It’s an incredibly exciting time in the industry. We are thrilled to have Ampol on board as a partner supporting women entrepreneurs and congratulate them on their recent announcements regarding their electric car charging network,” Ms Fisher added.


Meanwhile, Ampol executive general manager of international and new business Brent Merrick said the partnership formed part of the fuel company’s future energy and decarbonisation strategy and aligned with its diversity and inclusion objectives.


“We are proud to support EnergyLab’s Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship to help provide the mentorship and support required to make climate tech start-ups successful, and to help address gender-equality challenges in the sector.


“Following the release of our future energy and decarbonisation strategies, we are focused on leveraging our strengths to extend our customer value proposition and target new opportunities in electricity, hydrogen, biofuels and carbon mitigation to support Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy.


“We also recently invested $NZ50 million ($A45.5 million) to support New Zealand’s energy transition following our acquisition of Z Energy (NZ’s leading transport fuels provider).


“We recognise the significant investment required in Australia and New Zealand to make the transition successful, as well as how the innovation, ambition, thought leadership and passion of entrepreneurs will be critical to success.


“We look forward to working with EnergyLab to support the success of clean-tech entrepreneur women in the years ahead,” he added.


Speaking to GoAuto this week, Mr Merrick said Ampol’s commitment to EnergyHub was  part and parcel of the firm’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint throughout Australia.


“Ampol is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and finding and developing new energy solutions that will support our customers through the energy transition.


“As Australia’s largest transport energy distributor, we have an important role to play in the transition (to clean energy) and believe the flexibility to repurpose our market-leading infrastructure and networks for multiple uses will support the most efficient pathway for our customers’ decarbonisation needs.


“We are extending our customer value proposition to target new opportunities in electricity, hydrogen, biofuels and carbon mitigation. This includes the recent announcement of our electric vehicle charging solution, AmpCharge, as well as our plans for a national roll out.


“AmpCharge will service customers both at home and on the road at both forecourts and destinations, leveraging existing Ampol infrastructure and customer relationships to ensure Australians can recharge wherever – and whenever – they need to. At-home branded charging infrastructure is also expected to be developed under AmpCharge, with offers to be made available to consumers as part of a broader home-energy offer.


“As we begin to evolve our national network, consumers will see AmpCharge in Ampol service stations, depots and terminals right across the country. For the first time, we’ll also be entering homes, workplaces and shopping centres as we seek to deliver simple and efficient charging solutions at convenient locations to keep people moving


“The AmpCharge rollout will commence with an initial 120 sites by October 2023, with the first five pilot sites to open in the coming months.


“Our support of EnergyLab forms part of our future energy and decarbonisation strategies and aligns with our diversity and inclusion objectives. We recognise the significant investment required for Australia and New Zealand to make the transition successful, as well as how the innovation, ambition, thought leadership and passion of entrepreneurs will be critical to success,” he added.


One of the WICEF program’s successful graduates, and now sustainability and resilience consultant for American multinational engineering firm AECOM, Annalise Kerr, said the program formed a critical foothold in assisting her entry into the sector.


“The WICEF experience is not a superficial networking opportunity. It is a community of passionate women who want to go against the grain, pursue entrepreneurship, inspire, and be inspired,” said Ms Kerr.


“This experience has not only exposed me to the initial steps for developing a start-up, but has empowered me with the confidence to actively pursue my ideas and support the global transition to a zero-carbon world.”


This week’s news comes less than a month after Ampol announced its move into electric vehicle charging infrastructure.


Under the AmpCharge banner, Ampol is set to take on ChargeFox, Evie and other providers with a network of fast-chargers in service station forecourts nationally, and at customers’ homes across the country. Ampol said it would leverage existing company infrastructure and customer relationships to ensure Australian motorists could recharge wherever and whenever they need to.


The firm aims to establish the leading EV charging network in Australia by 2030, including a fleet offer for business customers. The rollout will commence with five pilot sites at Ampol service stations in Alexandria NSW, Northmead NSW, Carseldine QLD, Altona North VIC, and Belmont WA, which will come online from next month.


There are now 19 charging infrastructure providers in Australia – including Chargefox, eGo Dock, Evie, JetCharge and Tritium – and more than 3,000 public EV charging points nationwide.

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