ABB Calls on “Digital Mavericks” to Join its Electrification Startup Challenge

March 25, 2022 by Ian Hahn

The Swiss-Swedish tech giant will award three companies $30,000 each to develop digital tools to enhance systems both at home and at scale.

With a bevy of experts at its disposal and a jury of seven ready to pass judgment, ABB is holding its third annual Electrification Startup Challenge. Consisting of three separate competitions, the challenge provides enterprising startups a chance to demonstrate their ingenuity, and their cool under pressure. 

The task is simple—Develop, in just ten days of crunch, a digital tool to do one of three things. 


The Smart Buildings Challenge 

In 2019, buildings collectively emitted nearly 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere, good for 38% of the global total. Seven of those gigatonnes were produced by residential housing: People in their homes, blasting AC and watching TV. 


Buildings produce nearly 40% of the world's CO2 emissions. Screenshot used courtesy of ABB


To address that, ABB’s Smart Buildings Challenge calls on startups to develop easy-to-use applications empowering consumers to live in more eco-friendly ways, both at home and at the office.

That can take any form applicants see fit, whether it be a mobile app, a web-based platform, or a panel dashboard. So long as the system is intuitive, enabling non-specialist users to better utilize and maintain buildings’ sub-distribution ecosystems, any solution is kosher.

ABB has but two rules here: Keep it simple. Keep it fun. 


The Smart Power Challenge

Just as the Smart Buildings Challenge seeks to empower consumers to live more sustainably, the Smart Power Challenge seeks to better equip business and facility owners. 

ABB is accepting applications for a web-based energy asset advisory tool targeted at behind-the-meter energy systems. The company wants a modeling and simulation tool that can provide executives with a scenario-based digital playground, where they can set targets for reducing emissions. 

“Let’s imagine that one business owner wants to reduce their energy consumption by 20%,” said Giampiero Frisio, president of ABB’s Smart Power division. “They want to enter the tool, set up a few parameters on their own building, set the target of 20%, and boom! They will have the new blueprint on how the system is going to be built in order to reduce the energy consumption.” 


The Distribution Solutions Challenge 

With climate change accelerating, critical global infrastructure is increasingly exposed to faults, caused both by extreme weather events and a grid growing evermore complex as it integrates renewable power. 

And when things do get dicey, it can take weeks or even months for engineers to assess a malfunctioning system, diagnose the root cause, and fix it.


Power distribution systems have complex technical environments. Image used courtesy of ABB


Enter ABB’s Distribution Solutions Challenge. Here, the company is looking for a “superdata cruncher” that can coalesce massive, sophisticated swaths of data on power distribution systems. Armed with that data, engineers could then rapidly implement solutions to keep hospitals, utilities, and data centers up and running in times of acute stress. Think hours instead of days.


Deadlines and Rewards 

Startups have until March 31 to submit their ideas. ABB’s jury will select nine finalists on May 4, who will then have just ten days to work with ABB’s gurus before a final pitching blitz in Berlin on May 13.


Finalists will also be invited to attend the Berlin Formula-E Prix with ABB executives. Image used courtesy of Formula E

Challenge winners will each receive $30,000 to further develop their projects in collaboration with ABB. In addition, the winning companies will enjoy a six-month membership to ABB’s SynerLeap, its platform for connecting startups with its robust network of resources, from mentorship to industry contacts. And winners will also gain access to a lineup of technologies and experts from Microsoft, a collaborator in the competition.  

ABB values six months of SynerLeap access at $8,000, and says that startups could receive up to $150,000 in credits on Microsoft’s Azure, its cloud platform for more than 200 products and services. 


Feature image used courtesy of ABB