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Onward Accelerator 2023 cohort: Investing in Energy Changemakers

We are elated to introduce our most recent graduating cohort of 2023. We hope these founders, and their ideas, get you excited about the type of work we are contributing to - as well as inspire ideas of your own!


Project Geminae

Project Geminae is an AI-powered portfolio optimization platform, enabling predictive modeling across industries. Their technology and unique business model synchronizes data across organizations, delivers probabilistic models, adaptive financial forecasting, and collaborative workflows.


Lewis Matthews, CEO

Lewis has founded three companies and has a BS in Geology, a BA in Economics, and a MS in Geophysics and Seismology.


“We change the game by playing it. We essentially build a computer game of a company for simulation and then connect it to AI and the AI learns to play that game at a superhuman level. It’s through analysis of that simulation that we’re able to return value back to our customers, by finding the efficiencies in their business practices or solutions to their challenges.”


Efrem Rensi, Co-Founder

Among the many things Efrem has done, he has worked as a mathematics instructor, a principal software engineer, and a business intelligence consultant. He holds a BS of Science and a Master's Degree (Ph.D. ABD) in Applied Mathematics.


AI Technology & Systems

AI Technology & Systems is a NASA iTech company that provides compressed AI models and software tailored for edge AioT (artificial intelligence of things) tiny electronics. The technology unlocks opportunities in areas such as equipment monitoring, predictive maintenance, smart farming, and smart transportation, with smart solutions running without the internet while providing privacy and security.


Rohit Sharma, CEO

While Rohit has founded two companies he’s also been a Senior Consultant, a Senior Manager and Director of R&D, an R&D Engineer, and a Software Engineer. He also holds degrees from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University.


“Our products create software with the data extracted from sensors that run on batteries, without internet, in remote areas. That means that it’s not only easy to install and use, as it runs without reliance on servers and gateways, but it also reduces costs because it doesn’t take an expensive team to run it.”


Austere Environmental

Austere is an environmental remediation solution specialized in extracting chemical contaminants in soil, drill cuttings, and tailings. Austere Environmental’s technology allows the cleaning of soil, cuttings, and tailings in a greener way for a lower cost than current remediation methods. Their patented technology cleans soil 90% better than EPA requirements by reducing contaminants down to 40 parts per million at 10% of the current remediation costs.



Daniel Johnson, CEO

Daniel has eight patents, a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering, and is a PhD candidate for Space Resources.


“Curtis and I were Ph.D. students together at Colorado School of Mines working on technology for extracting water out of lunar soil. And while the technology worked great, we realized we weren’t going to have a customer for a long time. So we looked a little closer to home and realized the technology worked great for extracting chemical contaminants out of earth soil, and that’s how Austere Environmental was born."


Dr. Curtis Purrington, COO

Curtis has helped start four startups, was an Airforce Aircraft Crew Chief for eight years, spent eight years as a flight test engineer, and holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Space Resources.

“As part of the Onward cohort they teach you about how the business side works. They say here’s how you can understand how the oil and gas industry works, here’s how these different contracts work, they help you avoid the pitfalls and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.That’s been an incredible help to not just us but also the pitch for our business because at our core we’re engineers, and they help allow us to focus on what we’re good at.”



Flexergy is developing technology for a highly efficient hydrogen gas compression, storage and distribution system. Their product represents an innovation in hydrogen compression, reduces energy losses and reduces the final cost of hydrogen. By optimizing the hydrogen supply chain, they contribute to the widespread adoption of clean and sustainable energy solutions.Flexergy’s patent-pending compressor compresses hydrogen with 30% higher energy efficiency which can result in a 50% lower cost of renewable hydrogen in best case scenarios.



Paul Codd, CEO

Flexergy is Paul’s second clean energy storage startup and he has a robust background that includes over 20 years as a project manager, engineer, and business developer in energy storage, renewable development, mining, energy engineering, and consulting. He holds B.Eng in Energy Engineering and an MBA in Management Science.


“As a small company, it’s really important to gain access to larger corporations. But here we get the help we need. By having the backing of an accelerator with the pre-selection and credentials that come along with being a part of the cohort allows us to be introduced to different organizations where we get feedback from real venture capitalists.”


Dr. Parag Vyas, CTO

Parag, who’s the holder of over 17 patents, started his career as a University Research Assistant before working his way up through the ranks of Engineering with companies such as McLaren Racing and GE and now has over 25 years specialized in R&D and technology commercialization.. He’s also been the Head of Technology, Director, and CCO power and green energy businesses. He holds a B.Eng, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and a D.Phil, Tokmak Control Engineering.


Economical Energy

Economical Energy is a long-duration energy storage solution company. They have developed an innovative technology, VIPER, the Vertically Integrated Potential Energy Reservoir which is a reinvention of gravity-based energy storage. Economical Energy’s technology enables energy companies to cost-effectively store cheap renewable wind and solar energy when it's available, so that it can be sold at a later time for a higher price.


Matthew Forrest, Inventor & Engineer

Matthew has extensive experience in mining, robotics, and automation while specializing in Mechanical & Software Engineering. He holds a BEng and a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences.


“My background is in engineering and computer science and while I started off with a focus in robotics I quickly realized that climate change is a pretty important problem. When I saw the issues surrounding the intermittency of renewable energy I decided to think more about energy storage. One thing that’s great about this accelerator program is that they let you focus on making a difference. I think if you focus too much on making money you can wind up having the opposite effect.”


Michael Short, Engineer

Michael is an underground mining specialist whose primary focus is on mining engineering. After working for many years in the mining industry he’s turned his focus on the renewable energy sector and energy storage. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining and Mineral Engineering.


David Coupe, Mechanical Engineer

David's primary area of focus is on mechanical hardware design, before he helped found Economical Energy he was a mechanical engineer for BCA Engineers. He holds a degree from the University of Adelaide.



Onvol is a technology company that is pioneering industrial IoT power solutions for applications in wind energy, transport, and mining. Onvol’s first product is VolPower™️, an energy harvester that powers sensors installed within wind turbine blades, providing them 24/7 power for the life of the equipment with a simple plug-in-and-forget solution. Onval has been featured as ‘Best in Tech’ in 2023 by Startup Daily and was a winner of the 2023 Australian Technologies Competition.



Clinton Hopkins, CEO

A self-proclaimed tech nerd and inventor, Clinton had been a commercial pilot and airline captain for almost fifteen years before turning his curiosity toward renewable energies and smart devices where Onvol is his second startup project. His primary study focus has been on Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering.


Molly Hopkins, Chief Operations Officer

Before co-founding Onvol Molly was an airline captain for over ten years. As a pilot she witnessed first hand how weather patterns have been evolving over the years which inspired her to start her entrepreneurial journey in an effort to help accelerate the transition to net-zero. She holds an MBA from RMIT University and is the co-author of the book, Women Leading the Way.



SeisWave, a geophysical innovation, specializes in delivering cost-effective cloud-based services with a focus on developing competitive-edge technology and transparent workflows. Creating new ways to enable both the exploration expectation and the financial dynamics of this strategic workload, SeisWave's products are reshaping the terrain of the geophysical industry.



Weishan Han, Principal CEO

Weishan has over 20 years specializing in seismic R&D working as a software engineer, a geophysicist, a software advisor, and as an independent contractor. He holds a BS in Computational and Applied Mathematics, a MS in Applied Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.


“At SeisWave we are technically minded and don’t really know the market. Onward has helped teach us and given us the tools to strategize how we fit into the marketplace. They really do show you what you need to build your own company and what to do after the build phase to continue to manage and grow.”




Are you an Onward changemaker or do you know someone who is?

If you are ready to take your energy startup to the next level, submit your application now.

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