Florida Power & Light will set aside space on its Juno Beach campus for entrepreneurs from around the world. Inventors with compelling ideas can apply for a package of support that includes office space, guidance from FPL execs and $50,000 in cash.
Florida Power & Light Co. said Monday it will launch a startup incubator to spur innovations in the fields of energy and water.
FPL will set aside space on its Juno Beach campus for entrepreneurs from around the world. Inventors with compelling ideas can apply for a package of support that includes office space, guidance from FPL execs and $50,000 in cash.
FPL said it aims to bring in 20 entrepreneurs as part of the initiative aimed at launching new companies and finding better ways to provide power.
FPL, the state‘s largest utility, said it opened applications Monday. The project is known as 35 Mules, a nod to the animals that helped FPL launch in 1925.
“We started as a very small company with big ideas,” FPL Chief Executive Eric Silagy said Monday in an interview. “Thirty-five mules was one of the first assets we had.”
While FPL operates as a state-regulated utility, Silagy argued the company long ago moved beyond any stereotypes of fat-and-happy monopolies. FPL parent NextEra has grown into a major force in green energy.
“This is really a technology company that delivers power,” Silagy said.
FPL promises entrepreneurs access to its experts in such fields as solar power, renewable energy, innovation and smart grids. In all, FPL expects to invest $2.5 million in the project.
Silagy hopes the incubator will provide a two-way exchange of ideas.
“We‘re going to have a chance to learn from them,” Silagy said.
Silagy said it‘s unclear exactly what types of companies will move to FPL’s campus to participate in the 35 Mules initiative. He said he knows of no other utilities that have launched a similar program, although pharmaceutical companies and big tech companies long have looked to startups for new business ideas.
FPL is a unit of Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE), a utility juggernaut valued at $132 billion when the stock market opened for trading Monday. That‘s the highest market capitalization by far among U.S. power companies.
Silagy said the latest endeavor is a bet on the Florida economy.
“We‘re big believers that if Florida is successful, we’re successful,” Silagy told dozens of Palm Beach County business leaders who gathered at the company‘s headquarters.