A² Accelerator „Smart Energy 2016“
The A² Accelerator Programme premiered in 2016 with a focus on energy. This included the whole value creation chain as well as overlapping services, including big data and other IT applications. We looked for start-ups which focused on energy sector-specific issues, provided interface solutions and auxiliary services for the energy sector.
The Dynamic Energy Sector
Hardly any other sector is confronted with challenges as far-reaching as the energy sector. However, hardly any other sector has so many chances for successfully shaping the transformation that is currently underway. The mission is to redefine the market.
Rapid increase in renewable energy, the transformation from the consumer to the producer, the incredible growth in data volume in the context of decentral production and digitisation, the growing demand for storage solutions, issues of system integration, grid control, grid-related services…these are but some of the current challenges confronting the energy sector as well as the established players. This is an environment that calls for disruptive business models.
Moreover, the energy sector is challenged by a changing policy course in the dynamic space between lobbyists and national and international policy, which is heavily affected by environmental and macroeconomic factors. Global players and large corporations are faced with tasks for which they require support and solutions through partnerships and cooperation.
The following start-ups were selected for the first A² Accelerator and received tailored support in realising their pilot projects:
CLOUD&HEAT Technologies GmbH
CLOUD&HEAT Technologies GMBH is building a decentral server infrastructure. The company’s patented control technology lets waste heat run back into the building’s heating system, where it is also used to heat drinking water. At the same time, this renders additional server cooling unnecessary.
CLOUD&HEAT Technologies GMBH, Lucas Drews:
“The A² programme was definitely valuable to us. Our network and the pilot project, which we had planned before the project, gained momentum. Overall, I found the programme well-rounded and well-organised and would recommend it.”
Recent developments including the advancing digitization of industrial processes (“Industry 4.0”) are resulting in dramatic increases in the quantity of data. This does not only require faster data transmission, but also well-functioning server infrastructures working in the background. The energy demands of these infrastructures result in a rise in costs and carbon emissions. Consequently, the rising demand for secure data storage, high performance, and low latency must be met with innovate technologies for saving costs and energy – particularly in Germany, the home of the Energiewende.
We have developed the server hardware Datacenter in a Box (DiaB) with which we respond to these challenges and drastically reduce the cooling costs compared to classic server racks. Using our innovative, patented water-cooling technology, our customers can operate their own micro data centres without the use of energy and cost intensive cooling technology. The waste heat of our servers is tied into the water cooling and run back into the building’s heating system.
Today, energy efficiency is an increasingly important aspect. The market for green processing and storage performance is growing exponentially. Virtually every new technology is based on digital infrastructures. Small and medium-sized companies are seeking to lower the energy consumption of their IT infrastructure in order to save costs and emissions. Our innovative DiaB solution is the answer to this challenge.
We are combining cloud computing with the classic utilities sector to the most efficient, green, emissions and money saving technology worldwide. Our customers value our solution’s first-class and fail-safe processing and storing performance. In addition to integrating our “Datacenter in a Box” into the heating circuits of buildings, we implement and manage a private cloud environment, powered by OpenStack, for our customers. They can be sure of accessing their energy-efficient IT resources any time without having to invest in their own expertise.
Nicolas Röhrs, CEO
Dr. Jens Struckmeier, CTO & founder
Dr. Marius Feldmann, COO
Lucas Drews, Business Development
Larger projects are usually planned well in advance in a rigid and lengthy process. They cost companies time, money, and nerves. Reacting quickly to changes can be difficult – which is also due to the multitude of options. Cost effectiveness often takes a back seat to dealing with complexity. This is exactly where our decision support systems come into play: our software BAU ZEIT is solution for quick, intelligent, and flexible project planning. Flexibility and shortened decision-making processes improve a company’s ability to react, improve transparency, and optimise project planning on all levels.
Our planning software continuously adapts to changing conditions and creates excellent planning results. BAU ZEIT provides you with a firm foundation on which to make difficult decisions. As a plugin for project planning software, our software plans and structures even large projects according to customer needs while taking into account relevant conditions, resources, and costs. BAU ZEIT highlights the effects of disturbances in the process and suggests reasonable actions. BAU ZEIT guarantees a smooth planning flow by providing simple and quick coordination.
Our products are based on mathematical optimization which means the best option is chosen considering the confusing number of alternatives. BAU ZEIT is required where projects are planned and implemented – in virtually every sector (construction, architecture, software, public transportation, agencies, etc.). The BAU ZEIT plugin can be seamlessly integrated into most common project planning software. BAU ZEIT considerably simplifies and accelerates project planning, reveals potential for cost reduction, and creates space for business development.
We offer our software to customers in the b2b market via a simple licensing model. COMPLEVO additionally offers its customers support for establishing the software in their company as well as supporting planning and implementation projects at all stages. In the long term, our aim is to optimise a minimum of 25% of all projects that use project planning tools with BAU ZEIT.
Karsten Friedrich, CEO
Rico Gujjula, CEO
Stefan Pillasch, CEO
dezera GmbH develops smart hardware and software for application in technical facilities for demand-side management with a direct link into energy trading.
Johannes Braunagel & Matthias Kühl, dezera GmbH, Hamburg:
“We would definitely take part again. A² was great for us because it focused on energy, which is not very common. It was extremely important to us that the goal was to create projects with the industrial partners, that they provided a platform for that, and that the bne was the multiplier. It was also very important to be able to pitch at the public utility conference. The programme turned out to be much better than we originally thought. We didn’t expect everything to be so professionally organized by the WISTA team.”
The Energiewende in Germany, transforming the energy market towards renewable energy, is fundamentally changing Germany’s energy supply market. The growing share of energy from production that is prone to fluctuation, which includes wind and photovoltaics, increases the demand for flexible strategies for storage and compensation and requires the ability to react to volatile energy supply conditions. Spot market prices for electricity are shaped by the volatility of renewable energy production. Therefore, the key to the economically sound integration of renewable energy is to improve the flexibility of electricity production and consumption.
Electricity consumers provide opportunities for creating more flexibility in the electricity system. dezera offers a service-based, technical solution to enable large electricity consumers to make their energy demand more flexible. By applying roadmap optimization based on forecasts, we enable electricity consumers to react to volatile prices, or price signals, and therefore save costs. dezera’s algorithmic solution is embedded in the dezeraBox which is integrated locally at the consumer level and facilitates flexible energy consumption.
Our product integrates flexibility into short-term energy trade. These markets are increasingly volatile due to the growing penetration by renewable energy. The resulting fluctuation of electricity prices is what drives dezera’s business model. Costs are saved by shifting energy consumption from periods of high prices to low-price periods.
In order to achieve effective market integration of flexible electricity customers, energy consumers and energy suppliers need to work closely together. dezera provides them with a software as a service model to help implement and run this technical interaction. Energy providers are enabled to offer their customers a simple, cost-efficient and dynamic energy tariff and improve customer loyalty. The energy consumer, on the other hand, can use the optimization potential to save energy costs.
Matthias Kühl, CTO
Johannes Braunagel, CEO
Bastian Hey, COO
M2MGO GMBH develops a cloud-based solution platform (SaaS) as middle ware for the digital transformation and IoT applications for interlinking business processes as well as for sharing and distributing information.
Jens Uhlig, M2MGo GmbH, Berlin:
“In the beginning, we were more interested in the pilot project. But then it turned out the networking and the insights into the energy sector were far more valuable.”
M2MGO’s aim is to become profitable. We have developed a solution called “People-System-Things”. Our biggest challenge is to find the right customers. Those who are not only interested in a benchmark and brain drain, but also transparently communicate their “pain point” - the point at which the customer starts actively solving a problem and lets us help to go one step further. Moreover, as a young company, we want to work with our customers on a level playing field. If these requirements are met, fair and forward-looking business can be made to master the Energiewende, the transition to renewable energy in Germany, together.
People-System-Things (PST) is a real-time, web-based integration platform for virtually everything. The self-service approach connects any machine or existing system. The resulting data, whether flowing or stable, are processed online. Based on the data you provide; every user can create personalised applications for every individual use case – no programming skills are needed. Everything is done by drag and drop directly in the browser. PST offers you the degree of freedom you need for a safe future in a rapidly changing world.
PST is based on the fact that the “internet of energy” is without boundaries. We are convinced that the interconnected world will cease to have geographical, technological, or industrial boundaries. Soon, every individual will be connected with others in more ways than just smartphones and apps. To a large extent, this will happen without common industrial standards.
Thanks to the way our technology is designed, we can integrate new standards any time. Therefore, our market is everywhere and in every industry. We are currently targeting the B2B sector.
M2MGO’S vision is an intelligent, self-connecting and automatic platform for everything and everyone. Our business model is as broad in scope as the market is large and diverse. It ranges from software support and development, communication between smart devices, to connectivity and provision of an IT platform. All data are processed in a multi-client system. We are one of few providers who can offer ready-made apps without compatibility issues. Why don’t you visit our workshops? We are convinced there are some hidden treasures for you to find.
Kevin-Louis Pawelke, Managing Director
Jens Uhlig, CIO
Oriol Fuertes, CTO
OEEX GMBH strives to make locally-produced electricity available to end-users in the immediate vicinity.
Ayanda Rogge, OEEX GmbH, Hamburg:
“I would apply again. I would also recommend it to other start-ups. And I would support an alumni programme because you can only apply once.”
Our energy market is not designed for distributed generation of energy. This leads to a number of challenges. Producers struggle with the decreased profitability of sustainably produced electricity. Utilities companies have problems aligning electricity production with electricity consumption in order to optimise their portfolio. Moreover, they suffer from rising costs thanks to a lack of consumption transparency. On the other hand, energy consumers are annoyed about rising prices and the lack of options for individual energy management. A direct and sustainable relationship between local utilities companies and their customers is rare.
Open Energy Exchange (OEEX) brings together electricity customers, producers, and utilities companies and creates and intelligent peer-to-peer energy market. We are creating a platform and develop software for demand-based energy trade in the local neighbourhood as well as innovative energy plans. Using individual, dynamic software building blocks, we make possible for households what has been common practice on a B2B level for years. We facilitate transparent energy trade with an internet of things approach. The main software building blocks comprise demand-side-management, innovative energy tariffs, data insight, and agent-based p2p trading software.
In 2014, German companies produced over 40 TWh in power plants with less than 2 MW. When the demand for electricity temporarily goes down, these types of power plants have to shut down 60 percent of their capacity to prevent grid overload. This so-called peak curtailment results in ridiculously high costs. Meanwhile, 160 TWh for about 40,000 million euro are delivered to households without any individual options for adjusting energy production to its consumption. This highlights the considerable potential for market optimisation.
OEEX runs a B2B2C business model. Households have free access to the OEEX platform through an app. A premium upgrade offers additional features such as automatic demand-side management with smart devices or the OEEX smart plug. OEEX offers energy providers innovative energy tariffs and intelligent trading on a software as a service basis. Why the B2B2C approach? Because a sustainable and intelligent future requires working closely with consumers. OEEX brings together those committed to innovative and individual energy management in one energy community.
Tobias Linnenberg, CEO and founder
Marco Borghesi, COO and founder
Michell Boerger, Software engineer
Ayanda Rogge, Marketing
pixolus GMBH turns smartphones and tablets into mobile scanners for reliable and quick reading of electricity, gas and water metres.
Dr. Stefan Krausz, pixolus GmbH, Köln:
“We got a lot of interesting contacts through the A² programme. I believe I have a much better understanding of how the industry works. It was also great to have an office on the site.”
Reading utilities meters is a process with room for improvement. This is true for meter readings by customers (e.g. via postcard or telephone) as well as company staff. Utilities companies and their customers are often unsatisfied with the process because it is inconvenient, expensive, prone to errors, and lacks transparency. If a customer reports the meter reading, the utilities company cannot verify its accuracy. The customers, on the other hand, don’t receive an accountable receipt. How can we make this process digital and smart?
The pixometer app reads utilities meters via smartphone camera. The pixometer SDK (software development kit) is the technical core which can be integrated into other applications, including workforce management software, as an add-on. pixometer automatically reads and digitalises meters with mechanical or digital displays by using the camera in the mobile device. Reading does not require being online. Additionally, the app saves a photo as a receipt. The data (meter readings, photos) can be conveniently managed in an online portal or forwarded into own systems.
pixometer is aimed at everyone who involved with reading utilities meters – worldwide! Municipal works and other utilities companies, facility management services, professional meter readers and measurement service providers as well as energy managers and energy auditors can license the pixometer technology or use the pixometer Pro app. We offer the pixometer SDK license to software developers.
Depending on the application type, pixolus offers:
1. Licensing of the reading technology as SDK and/or white label app
2. pixometer as SaaS (software as a service), a lean solution for professional meter reading
3. Support and software integration for the energy industry: selecting and implementing tailored solutions
Dr. Markus Beermann, Co-founder
Dr. Mark Asbach, Managing Director & Co-founder
Dipl.-Ing. Marco Lierfeld, Co-founder
Dr. Steffen Kamp, Co-founder
Dr. Barbara Krausz, Co-founder
Dr. Stefan Krausz, Managing Director & Co-founder
spsControl / Holsten Systems GmbH
spsCONTROL / Holsten Systems GmbH produces independent, innovative, and mobile solutions for remote monitoring and configuration of industrial facilities.
Dr. Raymond Hemmecke, Holsten Systems GmbH, Garching b. München:
“We are greatly looking forward to implementing the pilot projects. In addition to the A² programme, a great benefit was networking with other start-ups.”
Gathering detailed data from technical facilities and machines is complex, expensive and time-consuming which is why valuable information are often inaccessible and remain unused. Companies are missing out on potential to gather knowledge and to create added value for themselves, their customers, and their environment.
spscontrol provides companies with tools to support them in tapping the full potential of their machine data. Our smart services platform makes it possible to transform raw data from technical systems and machines into intelligent, dynamic, and valuable information for people. Ranging from data collection, systems control and operation, to condition monitoring and data analytics, Smart Services by spscontrol are dedicated and unique tools for all domains of automatization.
spscontrol is suitable for any organization which produces, sets up, maintains, or operates standard systems and machines – from very small businesses and SMUs to large medium-sized companies and organisations. We focus on industries which rely on technical systems and the use of machines. Companies producing heavy construction equipment, conveyors, pumps, blowers, equipment for cleaning, drying, and conditioning, as well as air conditioning can make use of spscontrol during installation and the warranty period.
spscontrol is a vendor-neutral HMI provider and a marketplace for smart services. Our customers can buy system-specific, ready-to-use modules in spscontrol’s HMI store, import them to the app and use instantly. An online system facilitates full license management of the ready-to-use modules. Our cooperation with manufacturers of technical systems, machines, and automatization devices enable us to develop targeted smart services. Tailored ready-to-use modules are quickly made available to our customers.
Elena Holsten, Business Development, CEO
Thomas Holsten, Product Manager, CEO
Dr. Raymond Hemmecke, Head of Smart Services Development
Andrey Sedelnikov, Head of Software Development
Sunride GmbH develops cloud-based software solutions for improved billing and transparency in tenant engagement energy projects in local grids.
Stefan Thon, Sunride GmbH:
“I went into the project with the goal to acquire a project and I was successful.”
The challenge is the systematic implementation of tenant engagement energy projects. Engaging tenants means providing the end customer with electricity from distributed generation locally and directly without using the public grid.
Sunride is a white label solution enabling energy service providers to systematically implement micro utility concepts.
In Germany alone, 20 million households live in three million apartment buildings. At an annual renovation rate of approximately 1 %, this translates into a market potential of 200,000 apartments in 32,000 buildings.
- One-time setup fee for installing the required hardware (smart meter)
- Annual fee for the meter reading service
- Energy management and billing software
Stefan Thon, CEO
Marco Peise, CTO
Vestaxx GmbH i.Gr.
Vestaxx GmbH i.Gr. develops electrical surface heating for windows. A smart window heating system for more home comfort in modern buildings.
Andreas Häger, Vestaxx GmbH i.Gr, Berlin:
“I would certainly apply again, if only because we got to know the community much better. Basically, I would recommend the A² programme to everyone because it has a clear aim, which is producing something. This is exactly what we want.”
New energy standards for building insulation and heating are now leading to considerable shifts in costs. Soon about 75 percent of all heating costs will result from investment in boilers, heat distribution, fireplaces, etc. Utility costs will become secondary. Moreover, the share of renewable energy in the grid is continuously growing. The result: high demand for electrical heating options.
The core of the vestaxx heating system is an innovative, intelligent, electrical window. vestaxx is designing the next generation of heating systems based on smart window technology – invisible, convenient, cost-efficient and emissions-free:
- A reduction of investment costs by 85 percent,
- A reduction in total costs in accordance with DIN VDI 2067 by 50 percent,
- Improved home comfort through good and healthy air quality
The market size for the single-family home segment in Germany is estimated at more than 500 million euro. The total market size in Europe as a whole, including renovation and commercial buildings, is 7 to 8 billion euro. The 2010 EU buildings directive, which states that all new buildings in the EU must be nearly zero energy buildings as of 2020, is also changing the heating system.
vestaxx provides customers with a complete heating system. Our sales are focused on B2B and the following two customer groups: manufacturers of construction-related products which sell the smart window to their customers (prefab housing companies, property developers) on the basis of the cost-saving advantages. Moreover, energy providers target the end customer through mini-contracting models and gain an advantage by improving customer loyalty.
Wiebke Kropp-Büttner, CFO, Marketing
Andreas Häger, CSO
Dr. Bradley Tinkham, CTO/COO