Origin Energy launches startup program Originate


Energy provider Origin has launched a new program in partnership with innovation hub Stone & Chalk to connect the corporate with startups which can help it make energy “easier, smarter and cleaner” for millions of customers.

Origin said the partnership with Stone & Chalk, which brings startups together with potential corporate partners, investors and mentors, would allow it to look beyond energy and apply ideas from other verticals to its own use cases.

Origin Energy’s Executive General Manager, Future Energy and Technology, Tony Lucas.

Called Originate, the new program will select the best ideas to pitch to Origin’s future energy team. The energy provider, which has 4.2 million customers, will then provide the companies with the potential to work with it on trialling or prototyping ideas.

The launch of the startup program comes as the federal government looks at extending the Consumer Data Right to energy providers, first earmarked in 2018, with new draft legislation released this week. The CDR extension to the energy sector will require providers, including Origin, to share certain information with customers, including metering data, by the end of 2022.

The extension is designed to empower households and businesses to easily and securely share their energy data to find the best deal suited to their needs. But it will also allow a person or business to apply to become an Accredited Data Recipient (ADR), enabling new types of businesses to form that make use of such data.

Origin has previously indicated in a submission to Treasury that it welcomes the scheme, saying the company “supports effective competition and mechanisms in place to assist third parties and consumers in using data relevant to them to compare and select energy solutions and their providers”.

“However, there is a need to fully assess which datasets are of value to customers, the costs and benefits of each dataset as well as the privacy risks of including the data under the scheme.”

In recent times, Origin has joined a growing number of providers to offer either bundled energy and broadband, or energy and phone plans, including AGL, Dodo, Kogan Energy, Origin and Sumo. It has also branched out into electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, rival AGL has its AGL Next program, which is focusing on electric vehicles, startup partnerships and investments and explorations of other customer problems.

“We have a long track record working with startups both in Australia and internationally, helping to foster ideas that capitalise on growing trends including the convergence of data and energy, growth in renewables, storage and green fuels,” said Tony Lucas, Origin’s Executive General Manager, Future Energy & Technology.

“Over the past three years, we’ve reviewed more than 2,500 start-ups and ideas, and know what we are looking for in terms of ideas that we can nurture and help to take that crucial next step.

“We want to tap into the local tech community which we’re confident has ideas on how to make energy easier, smarter and cleaner for our customers.”

Origin was a founding member of the global Free Electrons startup accelerator program and says it has already commercialised ideas such as Origin Spike, its gamified demand response program developed with US start-up OhmConnect. The program rewards members for meeting energy-saving goals when demand on the electricity grid is high. If a customer beats their forecast, points can be earned that can then be redeemed for PayPal cash or gift cards.

Stone & Chalk General Manager for Sydney Marie-Anne Lampotang said the partnership with Origin was an opportunity to help shape the future of energy delivery in Australia.

“We will be connecting our start-ups that offer a range of innovative solutions that can help innovate across Origin Energy’s technology stack,” Ms Lampotang said.

“Stone & Chalk is focused on shaping the future of emerging tech sectors by catalysing the commercial success across our impact network and helping them on the next stage of their journey to scale their businesses. Origin’s Originate program may be the accelerator that boosts one of our start-ups into its next stage of growth and we are excited to be partnering with them.”

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