Claire McGinn meets Mio Dart from Dexma at the ESB Free Electrons event. Her energy management software company is pitching for a much-coveted place on the accelerator programme, which, she explains, would give her business the turbo-charge it needs to scale up.
In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin.
Little did Arthur Guinness know that, 260 years on from signing that lease, a fleet of energy businesses would converge at his storehouse to brew their own ideas and establish themselves as leading players in the power market.
As part of the bootcamp phase of the Free Electrons Accelerator programme, 10 global utility companies – including ESB, American Electric Power, EDP (Portugal) and CPL (Hong Kong) – and 30 start-ups came to Dublin from April 2-4 to meet for the first time.
This step of the global accelerator initiative, now in its third year, gives innovative companies the opportunity to pitch their next-generation solutions to the rapidly changing energy sector in the hope of winning a coveted place on the programme.
One such innovator who made it through to the next phase of the programme is Dexma Sensors. Energy software specialist Mio Dart outlines her company’s hopes and aspirations as they take their place on the programme.
The Spanish energy management software business uses data from utility companies to produce insights about the utilities’ customers. Dexma can then identify potential energy savings and increase customer engagement.
Mio says: “In Ireland and in other parts of Europe, you have mandates to reduce your overall energy consumption. We aim to help utilities to achieve that goal – and ultimately to reduce their carbon footprint – by telling their customers how they can reduce their energy consumption and maybe sell them some additional service to help them do that.
“We take data from the utilities and do some virtual desegregation of that data to find out how much energy a customer is using in, say, lighting, cooling, heating and standby power.
“For example, a customer may need a new air-conditioning system that is more efficient. Or maybe they should install LED lighting where they are using old lighting.
“This gives the utility another revenue stream in terms of being able to provide those new services and hardware to the customer. The customer in turn will save money in the long term, reduce energy consumption and, therefore, reduce their carbon emissions.”
Keen to impress
Dexma, which has been in operation since 2007, is keen to impress the energy operators with its most recent product, Dexma Detect.
Not entirely new to the Free Electrons contest, Mio says Dexma applied for a place on the programme last year. “We were not successful. So, this year we revamped our application – with the help of about €1m in funding from the EU to develop the product.
“We think that may have helped us to get over the line and into the top 15 this year. From here we really need pilot projects – so Free Electrons will provide that opportunity to us in a perfect setting. The Free Electrons programme is absolutely what we need.
“We see the potential of this product probably being much higher than our first product, but it’s very new. It’s not something people know and that’s why pilot projects are so useful – we can streamline our thoughts and our product development.”
Dexma is already working with five or six utilities in Europe and has been in talks with ESB regarding its initial, more established product.
“We work more on the energy-efficiency side of things rather than on the generation side, but our product is aimed at reducing the consumption of, for example, ESB customers – thereby reducing their carbon footprint in that way or through more effective use of electricity.
“The ultimate goal for our business is to see a more sustainable future in energy and we see the future as digital. We want to help with that digital transformation for utilities and for all our other customers.”
Mio is very impressed with the ESB bootcamp. “They did a very good job of trying to foster co-operation between everyone here – linking people who they think have synergies and who might work together.
“And they’ve chosen some great venues both to showcase Dublin and also help us integrate better and to talk in ways that are not so structured.”
She says she had never been to Dublin before and plans to stay for the weekend. “My husband, who is a Guinness fan, is flying in later and we will definitely be returning to the storehouse,” she says with a smile.
Arthur Guinness would have raised his glass.
At a Glance
Name: Dexma Energy Management
Headquarters: Barcelona, Spain
Number of employees: 45
Speciality: Energy management software
Number of investors to date: 5
Total funding amount: €3.1m