return to blog

Sophia Withers is passionate about technology. With forays into cleantech, fintech and blockchain, Sophia’s career path has followed a fascination with how technology can be used to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Now, in her role as Co-Founder and Operations Manager of EcoGen technologies, Sophia turns this passion toward accelerating the shift to 100% clean energy. Milly Young, head of our Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship, sits down with Sophia to talk about her journey, her startup, EcoGen Technologies, and advice she has for women founders.

First of all, why did you decide to apply for the EnergyLab Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship?

My desire to join the program was rooted in the need for support, mentorship and community in an industry where women are underrepresented.

Having met some of the EnergyLab team at the Energy Next conference, I was captivated and invited to participate. Their collective brilliance, affability, and commitment to aiding others is evidenced by their steadfast support of clean energy startups at every juncture of their evolution.

How has the WICEF program helped you?

The WICEF program has significantly boosted my confidence and motivation in my journey through climate tech for several reasons. From the perspective of EcoGen, we've effectively utilised the insights and expertise of various mentors, successful founders and board members.

Mentorship facilitates a dialogue for refining strategies and seeking expert advice firsthand. Within the context of women in energy, hearing both the failures and successes of current female founders in this field, many of whom have participated in the EnergyLab process, has strengthened confidence and shattered barriers and self-limiting beliefs.

Personally, since joining the program, I've been amazed by the numerous opportunities that have arisen—whether it's connections to female-led investor networks or upcoming speaking engagements. Thanks to the program, I'll be presenting at a webinar focused on AI and the environment, as well as leading a workshop on sustainability and technology for students in the Wattle Fellowship Program at the University of Melbourne later this month.

Tell us about your startup, EcoGen Technologies. What problem are you solving and how does EcoGen solve that problem?

For industries in remote areas or where uninterrupted power supply is critical, such as mining, construction or agriculture, diesel generators are commonly used which are expensive and carbon intensive. We’ve built a Smart Energy Generator that caters to diverse businesses and government entities seeking reliable, clean energy by providing them with a custom designed solar and battery solution, so they can rapidly get access to clean energy without the need for upgrading their electrical infrastructure.

Our long-term goal is to then utilise the Smart Energy Generators all over Australia to help capture energy and load data to develop intelligent machine learning algorithms that can support the grid. The problem with the transition to renewables, is that there is increased complexity at the distribution level of the grid. As such, we’ve partnered with two leading universities in this field with the shared goal of technology that promotes energy optimisation and load balancing.

Where did the idea from EcoGen come from?

Back in 2022, we were mining the cryptocurrency Ethereum using advanced graphic processing technology. This was a profitable exercise but we quickly realised it was not a sustainable practice. The problem with mining cryptocurrency is that it requires a lot of energy to mine as the machines use a lot of energy solving complex algorithms and also emit a lot of heat, which needs cooling. To solve our own problem, we custom designed a modular solar and battery solution that allowed us to mine cryptocurrency sustainably, which was our first use case for the EcoGen Smart Energy Generator.

We quickly discovered that we could replicate the same custom designed solution for a myriad of businesses. Since then, we have been building custom designed solutions for other high energy output activities.

What is your team focused on at the moment at EcoGen? And where can we find out more?

At the moment we are focused on the commercialisation of the pod and focusing on our Series A fundraise (with the help of KPMG High Growth Ventures) so that we can build the capability of the AI development and continue to scale. You can find more, here:

Any advice for women founders in a male-dominated industry?

The evidence in literature highlights that women often experience imposter syndrome at a higher rate. However, leverage your feminine energy as a strength: harness empathy, prudent risk-taking, and offer fresh perspectives that are uniquely yours and worthy of celebration.

Recognise the significance of having a mentor in your field who understands your unique challenges and can offer valuable guidance. Cultivate support from male allies in your workplace.

Advocate for yourself and your achievements; this establishes credibility and fosters an environment of honesty and transparency. Additionally, whether you're a founder or part of a corporate team, develop the ability to identify and defuse egos.

Any other words of wisdom for founders, or things that have helped you along your journey that you’d like to share with others?

In the field of renewables or technology, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way. It can be daunting and intimidating to learn or discuss such topics but there are some incredible bitesize resources such as the Financial Times Tech Tonic podcast, which covers everything from AI, quantum computing and clean technologies.

Also, going to networking events and meeting people in similar fields can really help problem solve, understand more about your industry and often, build a community – just like how the EnergyLab opportunity came about!

Interested in joining EnergyLab’s Women in Climate and Energy Fellowship? Head over to here to fill out an EOI form. If you have any questions, email Milly at [email protected].

return to blog