Climate Collider: Spring 2024 Recap

The second edition of the startup exchange program brought together Swiss and US startups in Boston and Houston for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration on the energy transition.

April 2, 2024 | Boston & Houston

For Swiss startups exploring the US market, peer networks can be crucial. “Meeting US startups and learning about the ecosystem and the directions they’re going validates that you’re on the right track,” said Anand Verma, CEO of Perovskia Solar, a Vaud-based company producing solar cells for small electronic devices, and a participant in the spring 2024 edition of Climate Collider. This edition of the startup exchange program powered by Swissnex and Innosuisse brought a cohort of five Swiss energy startups to Boston and Houston to connect with their American peers, exchange insights and experience, and explore different approaches to energy innovation across the US.

The program began on March 13, when the startups arrived at Swissnex for three days of peer-to-peer sessions, expert feedback, and networking. Throughout the week, they got to meet a broad spectrum of local founders and innovators, during visits to Greentown Labs, the largest climatetech incubator in North America, meetings with Cleantech Open Northeast and North East Clean Energy Council (NECEC), and an event at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Swissnex introduced the cohort to a gathering of founders and investors from the Boston ecosystem at Climate Innovators Café. Following a keynote by Devon Battaglia, Head of Physics Operations at Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a leading fusion energy startup, the founders pitched their Swiss companies alongside local startups. Later in the week, the cohort had the chance to go in-depth with their US peers during a workshop and dinner with eight local energy founders. “The discussion was super valuable,” said Simon Zhang, CEO, REON Technology, a company with operations in Boston providing digital power solutions to manage batteries and PV panels. “It connected entrepreneurs from Switzerland and the US and allowed us to share our learnings and challenges in multiple areas. We have quite a few challenges in common, but a lot more differences that we wouldn’t have known about.”

The next week took the startups to Houston, the “Energy Capital of the World,” where they dove into the deep end at CERAWeek, the world’s premier energy conference. During the second half of the week, Swissnex organized sessions with Texas-based peers and experts at Greentown Labs Houston and the Ion District, as well as a lunch with Energy Underground, a group of professionals and founders in the Greater Houston area focused on accelerating the energy transition. “Engaging with the Swiss founders was enlightening – they offered diverse approaches to similar challenges,” said Anna Dai, CEO of Houston-based Varea Energy, who attended the lunch. “At the end of the day we’re all trying to make the world a better place.”

According to the Swiss founders, the benefit was mutual. “In two weeks I made more progress in terms of US business development than I could have made in a whole year sitting in Switzerland,” said Aris Mukherjee, co-founder of RTDT, an ETH Zurich spin-off developing software to monitor and optimize wind turbines. “But more importantly, I made new friends, met exceptional founders with exciting cleantech startups and collected memories that will last a lifetime.”

Climate Collider is powered by Swissnex and Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency. The third edition of Climate Collider will take place in September 2024.