Since Conviction’s report on the ABB Electrification Startup Challenge in March, ABB has revealed three winners for proofs-of-concept and digital innovation in sustainable energy. MOOST, i-EM and Pratexo were among 9 finalists that pitched in Berlin by invitation from the second stage, where 20 startups were shortlisted from over 100 entrants based in no less than 34 countries. Startup Challenge awards collaboration projects worth $30,000 with ABB Electrification for each category plus mentorship opportunities with ABB, SynerLeap and Microsoft.

Check out Conviction’s wrap on Startup Challenge 2022, first Q&A with MOOST,  interview with ABB’s Anton Kotov, and previous winner Q&A with Tallarna’s CEO Tim Meanock about industry collaboration and startup growth.

Subscribe for free, read on for i-EM’s insights and watch this space for more on Pratexo.

Ciro Lanzetta, CTO of i-EM

Left to right: Ciro Lanzetta and Emilio Simeone from i-EM; Blaine Mathieu and Mats Olsson from Pratexo; and Lucas Senn and Joel Samsinger from MOOST. Image Credit: ABB

Founded in 2013, i-EM is fully owned by Flyby, has a team of ten and an annual turnover of €1 million. i-EM combines analytics, machine learning, satellite data and other expertise for applications that span smart grids, energy forecasting, e-mobility, and solar, wind and hydropower renewables monitoring. Headquartered in Livorno, Italy, i-EM today has offices in Turin and the UK, where i-EM SAT is based and specialises in satellite-based solutions for markets outside of the European Union.  

Here’s what Ciro Lanzetta, CTO of i-EM had to say about their work and the Startup Challenge.

Tell us about i-EM and x-EM, whats the pitch?

i-EM’s winning tool, x-EM uses artificial intelligence to simulate ‘behind-the-meter’ energy systems. x-EM is an innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that introduces machine intelligence to simulate the ‘behind-the-meter’ energy systems that support operaters on design and scenario planning.

With x-EM, operators can find the optimal design and sizing of a given system to optimise energy resources, enabling flexibility in services and selling extra energy back to the grid. The platform can also simulate multiple scenarios to experiment with different setups of energy assets, reducing emissions and maximising ROI.  

Where does the solution fit in the wider context of today’s market?

The energy crisis, increasing costs and growing demand has added pressure to organisations to improve independence from the grid. That requires tools to mitigate cost fluctuations in the energy market through new services that include self-generation. There’s also the need to minimise emissions alongside the maximisation of efficiency, where behind-the-meter systems like x-EM provide visibility to accomplish multiple business objectives.  

x-EM accurately identifies the best design and sizing of each component of a given energy system, ‘behind-the-meter.’ The software considers the energy demand and available local energy sources to enhance the sustainability, scalability and stability of microgrids.

In the Smart Power cohort, i-EM won ABB’s Startup Challenge category for Smart Power with the x-EM proof-of-concept that uses artificial intelligence to simulate ‘behind-the-meter’ energy systems. This category called for engineers to build an online simulation tool that enables the design of sustainable behind-the-meter electrical systems in commercial facilities with a virtual ‘energy blueprint.’ i-EM enables operators to cope with fluctuations in energy costs through simulations that maximise efficiencies and reduce emissions.

So then what’s the specific customer need for x-EM?

The key benefits of the proposed solution are for the optimisation of costs in microgrid components, depending on the customer’s goal. That includes grid independence, in particular the reduction of the impact of the fluctuation in energy costs. x-EM also makes it possible to introduce new services through energy resource generation, providing flexibility and the ability to sell extra power back to the grid.  

In brief, x-EM is a simple and fast tool that provides an accurate evaluation of what’s behind-the-meter of a system to maximise ROI.

Can you give us the elevator pitch?

x-EM inherits i-EM’s experience in covering the entire life-cycle of the energy system and phases from simulation to management. It’s based on interoperable IT solutions that make information sharable and is completely independent from major technology providers.

Fundamentally, x-EM ensures reliable information is provided by extracting valued data from energy assets, creates awareness and delivers the best digital decision-making fast.

What’s the ambition for i-EM going forward?

We believe i-EM has the capabilities to build the fastest digital decision-making support services on offer in the energy sector and our goal is to become a leading, independent and global company within three years.

The vision of i-EM is to make smart grid behaviour and management predictable for the ecosystem, providing real-time situation awareness that optimises decision-making.

Image credit: i-EM

Why did you enter the Startup Challenge?

The motivation to enter the Startup Challenge was to demonstrate our capabilities to ABB with a simple, accurate and reliable simulation tool for Smart Power applications.  

Combining our skills and experience with the ABB, together we’ll go-to-market with a unique and innovative product.

Why did i-EM want to pitch ABB?  

The main benefit of participation is the opportunity to cooperate with ABB experts, leveraging their experience to better define the product and evaluating the competitive landscape for our go-to-market strategy, including price model and technical features.

Now we’ll have the opportunity to collaborate more closely with ABB, scale at speed and reach a global market through the partnership. i-EM and ABB will finetune the behind-the-meter proposition to meet customer needs, including our business model, pricing and customer support services.

Can you tell us about your plans for expansion?

With our ambition for i-EM to become a leading, global company for digital services in the energy ecosystem within three years, new markets are a top priority.  

International expansion is a key business objective and the next stage of development includes establishing a strategic commercial presence in Commonwealth countries like India and Australia, as well as the US, EMEA and LATAM markets.

Finally, why is innovation important to you?

Innovation is the way to experiment, find solutions and early adopters to anticipate the market’s future needs.

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