The start-ups participated in the Spanish company’s open innovation program, which it implemented for the first time outside Europe.
Some four years ago, Acciona, a Spanish infrastructure solutions and renewable energy company, opted for an open innovation model in a quest for technological solutions to the needs of its business. This year, it implemented I’mnovation, its open innovation program, in Chile, the first time it has done so outside Spain.
It launched eight challenges internationally, based on the company’s businesses in Chile, in areas such as construction, energy and the industrial sector. It received 160 applications - 54 from Chile - from which it selected four Chilean firms and four international firms, from Brazil, Spain, the United States and Uruguay.
“This was the first time we launched the program internationally and we chose Chile because it is one of the most important and strategic countries for our company. All our main businesses, both in renewable energies and infrastructure, are present there,” explains Acciona’s director general of innovation and technology, Arantza Ezpeleta.
The local winners
The challenge of “Efficiency in the operation and maintenance of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)” was won by Sunai, a start-up that uses machine-learning algorithms to diagnose problems in photovoltaic plants.
Fracttal, a firm that applies artificial intelligence to the maintenance and management of companies’ physical assets, took on the challenge of “System for monitoring and managing fleets of equipment in airport facilities”.
In addition, Voltio, a service for managing the charging of electric vehicles, and MUON VISION, which focuses on the efficiency and digitalization of copper leaching, were selected.
Ezpeleta explains that some of the challenges were drawn up together with local mining and energy partners where the winning start-ups will test their solutions. “This Monday, we will start working on the pilot tests. Within four months, we have to be able to see the viability of the solutions in solving the challenge we are posing,” she says.
The start-ups will receive US$25,000 with which to carry out the tests. Once they have been concluded, the different Acciona business units will evaluate the possibility of commercial or strategic agreements with the start-ups at the local or international level.
The co-founder and CEO of Sunai, Cristóbal Parrado, points out that “this will allow us to implement our solution in a very short time; we’re going to take it to market. We will create an artificial intelligence dashboard for the operation and sale of energy.”
Similarly, Fracttal’s Ricardo Román indicates that it will enable the firm to “test our technology in a challenging environment like Acciona’s ground operations at Santiago Airport.”
To learn more about renewable energy investment opportunities in Chile, see this article.
Source: Diario Financiero