Could you tell more about the SET Ventures?

Julia Padbegr

SET Ventures is the only European VC fund that is 100% focused on the energy system transition. We started in 2007 in Amsterdam and with our team of 9 we invest in early growth stage European technology companies that impact the future of energy. Our focus is on asset-light companies with smart energy solutions, as they enable many sectors to become active participants in the energy system.

Some of our exits include Sonnen & Limejump to Shell, Epyon to ABB and Alertme to British Gas. Our 20 shareholders include corporates, financial institutions, governments, family offices and energy entrepreneurs.

What is the strategy of the SET Ventures? (AUM, stage, geography average ticket)

We have EUR 200m AUM, of which EUR 100m in our currently active SET Fund III. We invest EUR 1-5m initial tickets in Seed, Series A or B rounds (plus follow on rounds) in European early growth stage companies that:

  • Impact the energy system transition with a scalable asset-light technology
  • Will go through an accelerated growth phase in the next 12-18 months
  • Have an excellent team that can handle the consequences of growth
  • Can create an exit value of > EUR 200m within 5 years
  • Meet our ESG, SDG and impact objectives

When picking investments, what do you mostly look for in a target company?

Out of our above criteria, the number one differentiator of a good company is an excellent team. We need to be convinced that this team is capable of executing its growth plans, while being highly adaptable to changing circumstances and customer feedback. We want to build a strong trust relationship before and during our investment period, so that we can overcome future challenges together with the entrepreneurs.

With multiple new funds emerging each year, what is the USP of SET Ventures among other investors? Why would entrepreneurs choose SET Ventures, and what value beyond capital do you add to the teams after investment?

We are the only European VC fund that is completely focused on the energy system transition. Because we’ve been around for 14 years, we deeply understand the energy industry and provide crucial market insights to our portfolio companies. While we bring the commercial benefits of our strategic shareholders, we don’t bring the downsides of a single CVC, and we leverage our extensive network in the energy sector to boost the business development, fundraising, teams and boards of our companies. With our +100 years VC experience we act as proactive, honest and human sparring partners to CEOs regarding scaling, internationalizing, financing, ESG and exit strategies. So overall, we help to generate great returns for entrepreneurs, our LPs, as well as the environment.

What 3 trends are going to be mostly important in the next 2 years in Energy Tech / Cleantech? Why?

Digitization, Decarbonization and Decentralization:

  • As renewable energy generation and storage become cheaper and better, the energy system transition becomes critical.
  • Consumers and businesses are increasingly focused on reducing their environmental impact with a move to decentralized energy generation and storage.
  • Moving away from fossil fuels towards low-cost renewable forms of energy will result in the mass electrification of many sectors.
  • Changes to our current energy system are enabled by digital technologies and fuelled by new business models.

Are C19 and low oil prices positive for climate dialogue or negative?

Initially negative because the alternative to renewable energy has become cheaper. But medium-long term I’m convinced that this is positive: we all have the opportunity to reflect and to see the impact on the environment of not traveling too much. We realize the requirement for digitization and decarbonization now, the oil & gas majors see the necessity of having to change their business models, and on top of that there is an increased number of green subsidies available.

Do you think C19 is positive or negative to Energy Startups?

Again, in the short term many startups suffer from reduced innovation budgets and access to capital, but in the longer term this can be positive, because:

  • Rapid change means opportunities for smart and adaptive startups; e.g. Uber and Airbnb emerged out of crisis.
  • Covid19 accelerates a number of winning trends; we believe sustainably. E.g.: electric last-mile delivery, energy independence and (smart grid) digitization solutions.
  • People have more time now. Startups are massively growing their customer pipelines through online marketing and videocalls.

As corporates cut their innovation budgets, startups will face less competition from corporate inhouse solutions in the coming years.


Watch full video interviews with Julia Padberg and other global energy tech and e-mobility investors here:




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