Ingo Fritschi, Senior Manager
Some of the world’s most innovative startups have been recognized at this year’s ABB Electrification Startup Challenge. The hotly contested challenge attracted 130 applicants from over 30 countries with a range of pioneering electrification solutions and services that address some of the world’s energy challenges.
This year’s contest saw 25 shortlisted startups undertake two weeks of intensive work alongside mentors from ABB, Microsoft and Synerleap - ABB’s startups accelerator - to fine-tune their proposals, before pitching their innovations at a virtual selection event. From there, the 12 finalists – three from each of the four challenge categories of Smart Buildings, Smart Power, Distribution Solutions and Service - went forward to the finale event in Berlin to pitch their solutions and enjoy the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race on the site of the historic former Tempelhof airport.
The four winners each receive a collaboration project with ABB worth $30,000 to develop a proof of concept and launch a common solution for the worldwide ABB customer base later in the year. They will also receive unique mentoring support from Microsoft and Synerleap’s start up advisors.
Now in its fourth year, the Startup Challenge has gained a reputation for attracting the brightest minds working to address the world’s energy challenges and support the energy transition. Since its inception, the competition has delivered seven Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) – with an additional three ongoing – and continues to nurture long-term collaborations, helping startups bring their solutions to ABB’s global customer base.
Epishine has developed a patented manufacturing process to eliminate short circuits, historically one of the major obstacles for organic photovoltaics performance in low light. The Swedish-based company’s innovation is a unique solar cell that harvests indoor light and can be easily integrated into small low-power electronic units. Judges were particularly impressed with Epishine’s commitment to sustainability, helping to deliver self-powered smart residential and commercial building devices with long lifespans that can be placed wherever needed without the inconvenience of wiring.
The growth of renewable energy, microgrids, and EV charging infrastructure has seen a surge in demand for DC-based electricity transmission and distribution, which dramatically improves energy efficiency. Dutch-based DC Opportunities has a strong track record working with universities and research centers and has developed a new system level DC microgrid demonstrator. DC Opportunities proposed an innovative DC metering and monitoring solution to enable energy management while addressing key technical challenges like sensor accuracy, improved energy efficiency and reliability.
Hybrid Greentech ApS, founded in 2018 by a Danish entrepreneur, has the conviction that global demand for energy storage will increase significantly. Their proposed new control logic hardware and software architecture for ABB’s Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) could create a fully AI-driven virtual power plant. Providing near real-time market access with country-agnostic ancillary services and split-second response times, the solution could improve the return on investment in batteries by 10 years or more.
Singapore-based MicroSec was recognized for their proposed framework for a cyber security assessment in electrical substations. The proposal is based on their innovative MicroIDS Cybersecurity Assessment and Reporting tool, a low-touch solution to instantly identify and protect against vulnerabilities and threats across operational technology (OT) environments. It works on-premises, offline, or in the cloud and can detect OT vulnerabilities and industrial compliance violations. What makes its tool unique is that rather than only offering enterprise or network level support, it offers an agent-less and agent-based approach to detect vulnerabilities at the device layer, including class 0/1 devices.
Anton Kotov, Head of Business Development and Sustainability at ABB Electrification, said: “This competition is one of the most keenly anticipated highlights of the year for ABB and it continues to deliver extraordinary results. Judges were hugely impressed by the caliber of entrants and the wide range of solutions they brought to the table, which made choosing the final winners harder than ever.
“However, the startup challenge is not just about winning; it’s about collaborating longer-term to nurture innovation. Fresh new thinking is key to tackling issues facing the energy sector and we are looking to build long-term relationships with these talented entrepreneurs working so hard to deliver sustainable technology and solutions for the future.”
You can find out more about the ABB Electrification Startup Challenge here. Entries will open for the 2024 ABB Electrification Startup Challenge in January 2024, with further Startup Challenges from other ABB business areas also to be announced in the coming months.