EV charging network startup GoPlugable named winner of INVENT 2023

Electric vehicle (EV) charging network startup, GoPlugable has been named the overall winner of the 2023 INVENT Awards, becoming the first Greentech winner of the competition in ten years.

Run by Catalyst with headline partner Bank of Ireland UK, INVENT is an annual competition that celebrates the most exciting innovators and entrepreneurs, giving them an international platform and support to make the greatest impact.

At an awards ceremony in the ICC Belfast on Thursday 21 September, ten finalists competed for the main award, with GoPlugable taking home a prize package of £25,000 from the total prize fund of £52,000.

The pioneering local company, which was also the winner of the Greentech awards category, is building a community-powered EV charger-sharing ecosystem that enables EV owners to take advantage of available privately-owned chargers in their areas and allows homeowners with chargers to earn money by sharing access.

Co-Founder Maebh Reynolds, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Queen’s University Belfast, created GoPlugable out of frustration at the pace in which EV is being adopted in Northern Ireland and a shared commitment to sustainability. Since its development in October 2022, GoPlugable has made significant progress in brand and product development and aims to grow its community to become ‘the Airbnb for EV home chargers.’

INVENT Awards category winners on the night were:

  • INVENT 2023 Overall – GoPlugable
  • Greentech – GoPlugable
  • Health and Wellbeing – Little Sunflower
  • Business Software – SEQO
  • Product – CycleAid
  • Consumer Software – Learning Me
  • Inclusive Innovation – WearMatter
  • Student Invent Overall - Levelway

The ten finalists were each given the stage at the awards night to give a one-minute elevator pitch for the chance to win £1,000 as voted for by the audience. Judged as the best pitch and winner of the £1,000 on the night was Feminatech.

The Inclusive Innovation Award was presented to WearMatter this year, who creates adaptive and functional clothing, offering great products to as many people as possible without exclusion.

There was a notable increase in female representation across the finalists and students at this year’s INVENT Awards, with finalist Feminatech comprised of a team of five women. The overall Student Invent winner was Levelway, a travel and directions application that provides level access routes for people using wheelchairs.

At INVENT, Catalyst also announced a new charity partnership with Young Enterprise Northern Ireland to help support young people in acquiring the skills they will need to become enterprising, creative and commercially aware.

Meg Magill, INVENT Programme Manager, said: “Congratulations to all the start-ups and entrepreneurs who made it to the INVENT 2023 final. The high calibre of entrants across all categories is incredibly encouraging and bodes well for the future of Northern Ireland business.

“Here at Catalyst, we are focused on fostering inclusive innovation and so we are delighted with the notable increase in female finalists this year as well as an increase in disability-inclusive ideas.”

George Higginson, Managing Director, Northern Ireland and UK Strategic Partnerships, said: “Enterprise and innovation are important pillars in accelerating economic growth and the INVENT programme is an inspiring showcase of local entrepreneurial talent and what can be achieved when we invest in entrepreneurs and provide the conditions and support they need to reach higher and succeed faster.

“That approach to fostering entrepreneurship is at the heart of our partnership with Catalyst, working with local talent to deliver innovative solutions to real world issues.

“Congratulations to all this evening’s winners, and particularly to GoPlugable who have shown how thinking differently about an existing issue can result in an innovative solution."