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ABB accelerates start-up ideas as “Unlock Your Ability” Challenge advances

Unlock Your Ability teams enter the Acceleration Phase

Zurich – WEBWIRE

ABB has named the winners of the “Unlock Your Ability” Challenge, a search for ideas with the potential to revolutionize energy distribution. The pioneering technology company will provide backing and technical support to Zaphiro, BEE beyond energy efficiency and Windcity, start-ups that aim to improve the reliability of existing energy infrastructure by using grid sensors, controllers and automation software to operate medium- and low-voltage grids more effectively, to move beyond energy efficiency, by linking distributed generation and storage systems at smaller sites via the cloud, and to develop a new small-scale generator technology, respectively.

ABB has organized the initiative in partnership with PoliHub, the start-up district and incubator of the Politecnico University managed by Fondazione Politecnico di Milano. Applications from around the world put forward ideas that use digital technology to make power smarter and asset management simpler. 

Giampiero Frisio, head of ABB’s Protection and Connection business unit, said: “ABB’s Unlock Your Ability Challenge is about discovering innovators with ideas that can make a difference – and fast tracking their progress. Peer-to-peer energy trading, a platform for connecting energy assets to the Internet of Things for analysis and monitoring, and neural networks that can forecast wind energy yields were just some of the game-changing ideas before the judges. We are now backing three teams to take their vision to the next level.” 

Digitization and start-ups will play a key role in accelerating the development of new solutions for energy management. With the launch of ABB Ability in 2016, ABB created a platform for connecting its huge range of technologies to the industrial Internet of Things. Launched earlier this year, the company’s Unlock Your Ability Challenge opens the door to engineers and start-ups with the ideas and vision to write the future of energy distribution.

Meeting the challenge
ABB’s Unlock Your Ability Challenge gave innovators and start-ups access to a panel of business and energy experts to help hone their pitch with training and technical consultancy. Following a final round of pitches, judges identified three projects that have won a funded place on ABB’s six-month Accelerator Program at ABB’s Technology Center in Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy. Stefano Mainetti, Chief Executive Officer of PoliHub, said: “The skills of the ABB team, one of the pioneers of the energy management industry, combined with the tailored entrepreneurial program designed by PoliHub, is the right combination for a great and innovative success. This Challenge is a great opportunity for participants to achieve real growth and invaluable experience.”

Based at ABB’s Bergamo technology center near Milan, the three teams will have access to the company’s state-of-the-art development, simulation and testing facilities and will receive coaching from Polihub to develop stronger technical and entrepreneurial skills, as well as a more robust solution. ABB and PoliHub will also organize networking with potential investors and sponsors and provide professional support from their network of consultants, experts and researchers. 

About the finalists

  • Zaphiro aims to improve the reliability of existing energy infrastructure by using grid sensors, controllers and automation software to operate medium- and low-voltage grids more effectively.
  • Ambra is a cloud-based energy storage farm. The startup will create an online community that enables owners of energy storage assets to exchange and trade energy.
  • DazePlug, a floor-mounted robot that automatically connects EVs to charging stations.
  • BEE is a new kind of energy service company that aims to move beyond energy efficiency. By linking distributed generation and storage systems at smaller sites via the cloud, BEE will aggregate their demand and response, significantly cutting energy costs.
  • Electrician CS, is a smartphone app that makes modifying existing domestic electrical networks faster. The app uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to locate wire tracks within walls, saving time and costs.
  • Windcity is a wind energy startup developing a new small-scale generator technology.
  • BestBefore uses neural networks to forecast local wind generation more accurately.
  • FlyDAQ plans to use drones equipped with sensors and thermal cameras to ease inspection of remote assets, power plants and substations.
  • The @coiIOTe Platform connects assets and plants to the Internet of Things for analytics, monitoring and management.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing more than a 125-year history of innovation, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization and driving the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 132,000 employees.

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