Bord na Móna’s Programme is at the cutting edge of sustainability

Last week saw the successful completion of Bord na Móna’s prestigious 2024 Accelerate Green programme by eight of Ireland’s most promising green innovators

Bord na Móna Chief Executive, Tom Donnellan, pictured with representatives from the eight Accelerate Green participant companies: ACEL Energy, SomaTech Limited, Voltclub Renewables, Konree Innovation, Weev, I/O Agri, AffinityEV and Universal Graphics at the Accelerate Green Conference at the Tullamore Court Hotel. Accelerate Green is an accelerator programme launched by Bord na Móna to help businesses innovating in the sustainable climate solutions space to grow and thrive. Picture Marc O’Sullivan

This leading business accelerator initiative, dedicated to scaling early-stage enterprises and SMEs that are at the forefront of climate action delivering sustainable innovations for a variety of industries in Ireland and internationally, was delivered in conjunction with Resolve Partners.

From renewable energy and sustainable Agri/marine-tech, to electric vehicle (EV) charging and food fermentation, the 2024 cohort of businesses represent some of the country’s most cutting-edge sustainable innovators today, with unique, climate-focused solutions to address a wide range of industry needs both within Ireland and beyond. By tackling a range of eco challenges through innovative approaches, these businesses are contributing to Ireland’s sustainability goals, while also raising the bar for environmentally responsible entrepreneurship. This year’s eight new participants included ACEL Energy, Voltclub Renewables, Konree Innovation, Weev, SomaTech, I/O Agri, AffinityEV, and Universal Graphics.

The latest 2024 programme of Accelerate Green, which first launched in 2022, culminated in the Accelerate Green Conference earlier this week on Thursday 23rd May. Over 250 attendees from across the country gathered at the event, which took place in the Midlands at the Tullamore Court Hotel, Co. Offaly, to gain insights from some of Ireland’s leading thought leaders and innovators who leverage sustainable ideas and practices to advance positive climate action in Ireland today.

Speaking at the 2024 conference, Bord na Mona Chief Executive, Tom Donnellan, said the entrepreneurial qualities of the latest cohort of Accelerate Green participants join an esteemed alumni group of green innovators.

“I’m delighted to welcome the eight new businesses who are joining our esteemed Accelerate Green alumni. I look forward to seeing these companies follow in the footsteps of the past participants, many of whom have substantially expanded their business operations, global presence, and workforce since completing the programme,” he said. “This year’s cohort of businesses exemplifies the richness of emerging talent, innovation, and expertise within the Irish climate solutions landscape. Together, they are introducing a diverse array of sustainability-focused products and services tailored to various needs and sectors, united by a shared objective, which is to make meaningful contributions to a more sustainable future. Bord na Móna shares this same ambition as a renewable energy and climate solutions-oriented enterprise, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to empowering Ireland’s burgeoning green innovators through the Accelerate Green Programme.”

Tom Donnellan, Chief Executive, Bord na Móna (Centre) pictured with Barry Sherry and Declan McDonald, ACEL Energy. Photo by Marc O'Sullivan

This year’s cohort join an alumni network of 42 Irish businesses that have taken part in the Accelerate Green programme since its inception in 2022. Many of these past participants have reported positive scaling progress since completing Accelerate Green and collectively have raised in excess of €10m in venture capital to date.

Recent research conducted among the Accelerate Green alumni from 2022 to 2023 underscores several notable accomplishments, not least that over 90 per cent of previous participants are now more confident in their leadership capabilities and their ability to effectively scale their companies. Following programme completion, two thirds of the alumni have expanded their workforce and experienced substantial growth in their operations. Moreover, the alumni benefitted from the networking prospects provided by the programme, with 88 per cent reporting an expanded network, and 63 per cent indicating the creation of new business opportunities through connections made during the programme.

As an EV company with ambitious international growth plans, Raj Lyons, founder of AffinityEV, was keen to emphasise the positive impact that the programme has had on his business.

“The Accelerate Green programme engages in a mixed approach towards business collaboration and growth and fosters energy towards building on existing networks and resources,” he said. “The programme has allowed me to adapt to new ways of thinking that will benefit my company, in addition to generating new opportunities and broadening my horizons as an EV business. Accelerate Green takes an international approach, enabling us to explore opportunities for enhancing our service’s impact within Ireland and to gain insights on positioning the company and reaching a global customer base. I am grateful to Bord na Móna for facilitating this programme, it really illustrates their commitment to supporting rising green innovators and businesses in Ireland today.”

The 2024 Accelerate Green programme, which began in January of this year, welcomed the eight new companies - ACEL Energy, Voltclub Renewables, Konree Innovation, Weev, SomaTech, I/O Agri, AffinityEV, and Universal Graphics. They range from SMEs looking to scale, to established businesses that are diversifying their offering to start-ups with groundbreaking climate solutions. Over a four-month period, the businesses have participated in a series of intensive learning and mentoring workshops delivered by industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and successful Irish business representatives at the dedicated Accelerate Green hub in Boora, Co. Offaly.

Over 250 attendees from across the country gathered at the event, which took place in the Midlands at the Tullamore Court Hotel, Co. Offaly. Photo by Marc O'Sullivan

Participants also benefited from Bord na Móna’s commercial and technical expertise as well as knowledge gained from the organisation’s seismic transition from ‘Brown to Green’. Throughout the programme, the participants engaged in networking, mentoring and development opportunities with senior leaders from across Bord na Móna’s business who shared insights and advice on how best to navigate a scaling and sustainability business journey.

This year’s conference featured leading industry experts. Those who participated in panel discussions and presentations at the conference included: Jane Stout, Vice President for Biodiversity and Climate Action at Trinity College Dublin, Donal Flavin, Head of Strategic Policy covering Energy, Sustainability, Telecommunications, Digital, and Data at IDA Ireland, James Sprinz, Vice President for Europe at Energy Impact Partners,Eoin Kennedy, Head of Future Operations at Eirgrid; and Philip Boucher-Hayes, presenter of the recent landmark documentary series on climate change, Rising Tides.

The conference also featured pitch presentations from the eight participants of Accelerate Green 2024, who shared their respective business journeys and outlined future plans for advancing sustainability.

To meet the nation’s climate goals, the continued growth and support of energy-conscious and environmentally sustainable companies will play a key role

The initiative has proven a wholly successful one for Bord na Móna, which last year concluded its full transition from a traditional peat business to a climate solutions company. Today the company is entirely committed to the green phase of its business journey and has been for many years, delivering renewable energy which includes on- and offshore wind, solar, green hydrogen and biomass, as well as sustainable waste management and recycling, peatlands restoration, biodiversity and the development of new low carbon enterprises.

Since the start of 2024 Bord na Móna has also announced significant milestone developments including the launch of Ireland’s largest wind farm in partnership with ESB at Oweninny, Co Mayo, the development of a large-scale onshore wind farm with joint venture partner SSE Renewables, and more recently the launch of the company’s first Eco Energy Park with Amazon Web Services as the first anchor tenant to the site at Derrygreenagh Co. Offaly. This Eco Energy park will effectively co-locate a variety of renewable and low-carbon energy generation assets alongside large energy users from a range of sectors (including manufacturing, pharma, agrifood, ICT, transport and others) – helping them to pursue low-carbon growth in their operations. Through the continued expansion of its climate solutions and renewable energy portfolio, including the growth of its Eco Energy Park offering, Bord na Móna is supporting Ireland in achieving its ambitious renewable energy requirements by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050.

To meet the nation’s climate goals, the continued growth and support of energy-conscious and environmentally sustainable companies will play a key role. Bord na Móna is committed via its Accelerate Green Programme to helping emerging innovators in the sustainability space across Ireland to grow and thrive. With a bigger and stronger network of climate solutions businesses, we will be better placed as a nation to safeguard a greener and more sustainable future for communities across the country.

Bord na Móna has committed a substantial investment of €5m between 2022 and 2025 to ensure the Accelerate Green programme’s successful implementation and the continued expansion of its alumni network.

This year’s Accelerate Green Programme participants:

ACEL Energy: Monaghan-based ACEL Energy offers tailored renewable solutions such as solar, battery storage, and energy management through a co-ownership model, allowing its clients to transition to a Green Economy without investing capital.

Voltclub Renewables: Dublin-based Voltclub Renewables is a renewable energy development company specialising in development, sourcing, financing, and construction of renewable energy projects in Ireland, as well as supporting businesses in powering their operations sustainably, cost-effectively, and for the long term.

Konree Innovation: Galway-based Konree Innovation is a marine ‘deeptech’ company focused on developing technology that facilitates sustainable growth in salmon production by overcoming barriers in an environmentally conscious manner.

Weev: Belfast-based Weev, Ireland’s leading privately owned EV charging network, installs public charging stations and complete EV solutions for workplaces and fleets, offering convenient and dependable charging in as little as 20 minutes for EV drivers via its extensive network.

SomaTech: Monaghan-based SomaTech brings the art of solid-state fermentation to the food industry, creating sustainable ingredients for food companies enabling them to be more circular by creating high value ingredients.

I/O Agri: Cavan-based I/O Agri offers integrated solutions for sustainable farming practices across all areas of the farming supply chain, from ventilation to heating, from milling to feeding systems, as well as data monitoring and reporting.

AffinityEV: Galway-based AffinityEV bridges the gap between EV manufacturers and energy firms, enabling dealerships to offer customers a comprehensive, all-inclusive package when buying an EV.

Universal Graphics: Monaghan-based Universal Graphics provide innovative branding solutions, incorporating the latest technologies with specialization in eco-friendly high-technology printing.