Dr. Christian Feisst is a visionary who thinks that to stop innovation to save money is like stopping the clock to save time. Some years ago, Feisst observed market trends and realised two things: Firstly, people want to be in control; second, digital media offers users a chance to take control over a wide range of things.

Since utility companies Christian worked for didn’t want to embrace digitalisation, he decided to set up his own business, GreenCom Networks, in 2011. There, he developed an Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform that enables utility companies to digitalise their services and control distributed energy devices like solar PV, battery storages, heat pumps or electric vehicles. Together, utilities and GreenCom empower end customers to shape their energy supply according to their needs and interests.

“Every day, one can control more and more services with a phone app. The same is happening in the utility sector. The market is pushing for individualised energy solutions that adapt to each household,” says Feisst. “Think of controlling electricity or heating through your smartphone. You could adjust heating once you’re on your way home or have all energy flows in your house optimized by a smart algorithm knowing your everyday routines. This would reduce your bills and electricity consumption.”

Many utility companies are reluctant to take this on board, though. “Before, they had total control. They managed supply, demand and the prices. With digitalisation and distributed assets, it is consumers who decide the when and the how by owning and controlling their own generation assets. We have completely changed their business model,” explains Feisst, “But there is no escape. This is the world that we’re heading into and it’s important that utility companies fasten their seatbelt and lead the way before other companies do it. With access to big data and a long-standing customer relationship, utilities have a strong advantage to discover a way to provide products and services that better serve the customer’s needs and interests.”

“However, as an increasing number of energy products can be digitalised, we have to find a way of integrating a larger and more diverse number of distributed devices,” says Feisst. Thanks to an important investment from SET Ventures, a venture capital firm supported by the EIF under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe, GreenCom Networks were able to develop new applications and products and significantly increase the number of implemented devices and manufacturers, hiring 13 new employees in the process. “With the investment from SET Ventures, we were able to expand to new regions like south-west Europe” he adds.

Company:  GreenCom Networks (Germany)

Type of business: ICT, energy

EIF financing: InnovFin EquityEFSI

Financial intermediary: SET Ventures