“We have in the past focused on bio solutions and waste-based solutions, but now we’ve expanded that to have a broader look at circularity-based solutions and greater use of materials efficiency in the energy space,” he added.

Focus on CCUS

Further, the programme is also expanding focus on Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) related technologies, as the number of start-ups in this space grows and the quality of ideas flourishes.  

Started in 2017, Shell E4 Program is a programme that collaborates with technology, venture, government, academia partners, eminent coaches and industry expert mentors to enable digital start-ups to achieve industry readiness and implement strategies for scaling and global expansion in the industrial and energy verticals. 

Every year, the programme looks at roughly 1,200 to 1,500 start-up applications and selects an average of 20-25 start-ups in a year. The selected start-ups are given a grant of $20,000 along with other benefits. “We run two or maybe three cohorts in a year. While there is no fixed cap on the cohort size, the number of selected start-ups is a function of how many of them are ready. If there was a bigger base of start-ups that we see ready for a particular cohort, then we do take them and we continue to grow in that respect,” said Prasad. 

The programme has a focus on including almost 30 per cent start-ups from tier 2 and beyond cities. Talking about the vision behind this, he said, “it’s a lot about expanding the pool of available start-ups. Our larger ambition is to grow the ecosystem. We are not just trying to get into this on a pure-play investment and returns type basis,  the programme is about accelerating India’s energy transition and building the collective country-level capacity to be able to do that.”