Green hydrogen is on everyone’s lips and rightly so. Yet, the production remains far more complex and costlier than "non-green" hydrogen. SunGreenH2, a Singaporean startup, has set itself the goal of changing this quandary and bringing a nanotechnological advance to environment-friendly hydrogen production. Hamburg Invest’s "Scaleup Landing Pad" is bringing the scaleup to the Hanseatic city given their shared passion for green hydrogen!
Founded in 2020 by Tulika Raj, CEO, and Dr. Saeid Masudy Panah, CTO, both are passionate about decarbonization and set up SunGreenH2 in Singapore. Tulika had previously spent 15 years working in the energy sector while Saeid had worked in R&D for over ten years developing thin-film solar cells, photodiodes and transistors. Both quickly realized that his research could be used to produce electrodes for green hydrogen. Commenting on SunGreenH2, Tulika said: "We are proud to offer a solution for the entire industry with SunGreenH2, regardless of the type of electrolyser used."
SunGreenH2 is transforming green hydrogen production by building the world's highest performance electrolysers using their platform technology to incorporate proprietary advanced nanostructured materials into electrolyser components. SunGreenH2 has achieved world leading water splitting efficiency and doubled hydrogen production leading to halving of stack size and cost - opening the door to afforable green hydrogen for wide scale adoption.
The funding scheme initiated by Hamburg Invest and the Ministry of Economics and Innovation to bring scaleups to Hamburg offered an exciting opportunity and Tulika and her team applied swiftly. "We felt that the Landing Pad’s scheme offered us the perfect opportunity to bring our technology and solution for affordable green hydrogen to Europe and the German market," she noted. SunGreenH2 won over the jury and joined nine other scaleups in the Landing Pad this September.
The Landing Pad, initiated by Hamburg Invest and the Ministry of Economics and Innovation, offers international scaleups in sustainable mobility and logistics without branches in Hamburg free access to a comprehensive package of measures, expertise and a curated network of external service providers. This allows scaleups to set up shop and gain a foothold in Hamburg and to expand onto both the German and European markets.
Three features of the Landing Pad scheme especially the structure and organization appealed to SunGreenH2. As a non-European company, the Landing Pad helps the Singaporean-based company launch onto the German market especially Hamburg. Secondly, SunGreenH2 values proactive links to partners. "We are very business development orientated. We go where we see the greatest potential to launch our technology and expand our business. We share this vision with the Landing Pad. They are very keen for us to meet the right people and partners here. So we are here to learn about the market and to find the right partnerships and pilot opportunities," said Tulika.
Location is the third key point. Tulika was aware of Germany’s pioneering role in wind and solar energy when she began working in the renewable energies sector. Germany and the European Union led the way and green hydrogen quickly emerged as a frontrunner on the regional market.
But how does a scaleup from the Asia-Pacific region bridge the distance to potential business partners and local investors in Europe? Tulika pointed out: "We think the Landing Pad offers all the different elements you need to bridge the gap in international expansion." Also, Hamburg has great access to renewable electricity. SunGreenH2 needs large-scale environment-friendly electricity to produce green hydrogen and to remain on a sustainable growth course.
After concluding a seed funding round in 2020, SunGreenH2 team has grown its workforce to over ten employees all of whom are passionate about clean energy. Their top priority is to decarbonize the world quickly – a tall order by any measure. "In a startup company, you have to be resilient, think flexibly and find solutions quickly," said Tulika. Their shared goal has prompted the SunGreenH2 team to act in a solution-orientated manner. "We need flexible people who are willing to work on climate change and get up every day with enthusiasm to make a difference. On a practical level, they need to be problem solvers and have a ‘never-say-die’ attitude so that they come back every day with a new passion to solve the problem," Tulika stressed.
The future looks bright for the SunGreenH2 scaleup. Focus is crucial to growth and remains on "market, market, market. You have to keep an eye on the market. Saeid often says that although he had the idea for the electrodes in 2016, there was no market for green hydrogen in 2016. So the market is very important," Tulika stressed.
Protecting your technology early is another key lesson. “If you hit on a good idea but have yet to raise venture capital, focus on the big picture. Trust the importance of your technology and protect it. Apart from building the prototype, invest the initial resources in the patent as well."
Commercialization is the third key lesson: "From day one, we tried to keep the customers in mind, paying customers who will use our technology. We talked to so many of them, even before we could really offer them anything, to get an idea of how we're going to commercialize this technology."
At the moment, SunGreenH2 is doing pilot tests of its technology in the European Union, North America and Asia Pacific. If the tests prove successful, the company plans to mass produce the electrolyzers and components for scaling up. Thus, field testing, commercial production and international expansion into Germany backed by the Landing Pad will top the agenda in the New Year and in 2024.
Thank you Tulika for the interesting interview. We wish you and SunGreenH2 all the best for 2023!