BIG SMILES: Qazi Sohail Ahmad (left) and Lorenzo Ruscelli were beyond happy when the duo was surprised with a cheque for 100,000 EUR on Monday afternoon. (Photo: Mari K. Buckholm)

Start-up ChargeBnB won 100,000 EUR in European competition:

“We were a bit shocked, screaming and jumping up and down”

On Monday afternoon, entrepreneur Qazi Sohail Ahmad and Head of Venture Lorenzo Ruscelli were surprised with a cheque for 100,000 EUR when the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge appeared with both a camera crew and excellent news.

By Mari Kristine Buckholm, 9 September 2021

ChargeBnB founder Qazi Sohail Ahmad smiles broadly. He got an unexpected visit at his job as researcher and international project manager at Smart Innovation Norway on Monday, when a camera team and representatives from the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge in Norway showed up with a cheque for whopping 100,000 EUR, which equates to about 1 million NOK.

“We had no idea and were not expecting this. We were a little shocked, screaming and jumping up and down,” says Sohail Ahmad – laughing.

First place in Norway

The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge is an international competition that supports green entrepreneurs, or start-ups with sustainable solutions. Before the big reveal on Monday afternoon, a panel of experts had picked 25 nominees out of a total of 574 applications from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

ChargeBnB was awarded first prize in Norway and will be one of the five finalists at the grand pitching event in Amsterdam on 14 October. The overall winner receives a cheque for 500,000 EUR, which is approximately 5 million NOK.

“We hope it will be us! If not, the runner-up receives 2 million NOK. Either way, we have already won 1 million NOK and we are very pleased with that,” says a happy and optimistic entrepreneur.

Makes EV charging more accessible

ChargeBnB was established in October 2020 after the project idea got first place in the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) Climate Launchpad Competition in Europe. The business idea is simple: Create an Airbnb for electric vehicle (EV) charging.

“Environmentally friendly technology and sustainability are important topics right now. To create a better world, everyone should adopt more green technology. What motivates us is coming up with a solution that leaves a positive footprint on our environment. We believe the ChargeBnB solution will help increase the penetration of electric cars in society,” he says.

The challenge for many EV owners today is to find available EV chargers wherever they go. Therefore, Sohail Ahmad and his team have developed a solution that lets private charger owners (like offices, hotels, municipalities etc.) to manage, share and monetize these private chargers. This ensures that the necessary charging infrastructure gets utilized to the fullest and reduces the burden of installing new chargers.

The idea is that owners of electric car chargers can share internally within the organisation and externally with the surrounding EV users using the ChargeBnB platform.

“It will make it safer for most people to choose to drive electric, because you don’t have to worry about the famous range anxiety or inaccessible charging infrastructure on the road,” says Sohail Ahmad.

The start-up has already secured its first pilot customers, who will test out making their EV chargers available via the ChargeBnB platform. These are eSmart Systems, Smart Innovation Norway and Halden Municipality.

“Great potential for ChargeBnB”

As a start-up company with a promising, sustainable solution, ChargeBnB has also gained a place in Smart Innovation Norway’s incubator, Venture. Here, entrepreneurs and start-ups receive help developing their business idea further, and faster, as well as getting the product ready for the market. Head of Venture, Lorenzo Ruscelli, was present when the ChargeBnB founder received the cheque on Monday.

“I think ChargeBnB won first prize in Norway because they want to capitalize on a trend that is very important in Norway at the moment, namely the EV trend. About 60 percent of all cars sold today are electric cars. But there are still many challenges related to charging infrastructure that need to be solved, which makes some people choose gasoline and diesel cars even now. By putting ChargeBnB on the market, we are helping to increase the adoption of electric cars – because charging will become more accessible – and that is important,” says Ruscelli.

He notes that the challenge is even greater in other countries. Since there is not enough charging infrastructure, the share of electric cars in the population is also much lower.

“There is great potential for ChargeBnB in the Nordic countries, Europe and the rest of the world. With a good battle plan, I think Qazi and his team are going to succeed, and that is also why the company is part of our incubator. Smart Innovation Norway’s vision is a greener future and new jobs for future generations, and we believe ChargeBnB will create just that.”

In addition to ChargeBnB, two other start-ups in the Smart Innovation Venture portfolio were nominated in the competition. These two were TotalCtrl and UpPacked.

From research to market

The ChargeBnB journey shows how Smart Innovation Norway works to tackle climate challenges and create sustainable economic growth within the Norwegian and European society.

Through the company’s unique innovation model, research and innovation ideas get commercialized through inter-linkages with the other business areas, Venture, Clusters, and Smart Cities.

“ChargeBnB is a perfect example of how we work to commercialize research results,” comments Dieter Hirdes, Head of Research at Smart Innovation Norway. He adds:

“It is also a good example of how actors such as Innovation Norway and Siva contribute to creating new jobs in the green shift.”

About ChargeBnB

ChargeBnB provides an e-roaming platform to connect electric vehicles with private chargers.

The company provides electric vehicle (EV) owners a digital platform to choose an EV charger and share it with other EV owners to earn money.

Accomplishments:

  • Best startup for sustainable mobility in Europe by EIT Climate Launchpad (2020)
  • Won Nordic Smart City Challenge by Nordic Smart City Network and PUBLIC (2021)

Supported by:

  • Smart Innovation Norway
  • Innovation Norway
  • Siva
  • EIT Climate
  • Nordic Smart City Network
  • PUBLIC

Read more: chargebnb.io