Adlershof’s accelerator programme A² supports the development of start-ups
A Bavarian start-up teamed up with a Berlin-based energy provider on a project towards the digitisation of district heating data
The “A² Adlershof Accelerator-Programm Berlin” made it possible for a Bavarian start-up and a Berlin-based energy provider to come together to work on a project towards the digitisation of district heating data. A² enabled them to jointly develop a solution to make consumption data available more rapidly.
BTB Blockheizkraftwerks-Träger- und Betreibergesellschaft mbH Berlin, or BTB GmbH, is a Berlin-based district heating provider that supplies the high-tech site Adlershof and adjacent city regions with district heating as well as numerous buildings in Berlin with electricity, cold air and heat. The medium-sized company is a regular partner of the A²-Accelerator programme by WISTA-MANAGEMENT GMBH. As such, it supports start-ups and strives to find partners for innovative digitisation projects.
One of these projects aims at combining energy data from the consumer side with the producer side to make the provision of district heating more efficient, economic and eco-friendly. Instead of having staff collect the data from people’s houses, so-called house transfer stations connecting each household to the grid read out private consumption data and quickly make it available in digital form.
“We caught attention of Holsten Systems GmbH at the A²-Accelerator two years ago,” says Mike Müller, BTB’s department head for decentral facilities and grids. The young company from Garching near Munich is specialised on automation and IoT services. These include system integration and software development in energy technology and industrial and building systems.
“We started off by brainstorming what could be the best way to contribute our expertise,” says Elena Holsten, the start-up’s CEO. They quickly started working on a project: Holsten System’s team developed an innovative solution for digitising heating data: above-mentioned house transfer stations could be wirelessly hooked up to the internet. The company decided to go with Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) technology. Although it has hardly any of the usual problems with dead spots in basement boiler rooms, this wireless technology has been around for a while but is not yet widespread, says Thomas Holsten, the start-ups second CEO. The LoRaWAN technology offers several advantages: it uses less energy than mobile radio, it has better reach and the software is open source, which makes it a sustainable solution. BTB also values the low maintenance costs.
Following initial testing and few technical improvements, Holsten Systems installed two receivers on radio masts in Berlin-Rudow in June 2018. They gathered the data from six local house transfer stations and transmitted them to the BTB’s data collection module. “We are very happy with the results,” says Müller. “By swiftly analysing the data, we can better match customer needs with those of various heating providers which contributes to efficient energy management.”
The staff at Holsten Systems is currently working on the marketing of their project. Both the start-up and BTB are very happy with how A² facilitated cooperation between the two companies. “It is important that medium-sized companies use such programmes to understand the limitations of start-ups in terms of resources and practical experience. This worked very well with BTB,” says Elena Holsten. Mike Müller agrees that the cooperation was fruitful for both sides. Generally, the A² programme had a great selection of start-ups and a rare concentration of specialised expertise.
By Sven Titz for Adlershof Journal