SMPnet Ltd, an SME technology start-up, developed Omega, a state-of-the-art power grid management framework. Energy Systems Catapult’s Energy Launchpad team worked with SMPnet to further refine the route to market within the emerging Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) landscape for value-based network controllers. This included:
Determining the commercial business model and validate assumptions.
Evaluating the competitor landscape and defining a route to market by developing the value stack for SMPnet.
Identifying partnership opportunities and developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Software as a Service (SaaS) offering and pricing model.
Supporting SMPnet in raising investor finance.
SMPnet came to Energy Systems Catapult as an organisation in its infancy with an interesting proposition and strong engineering skills. Their solution was attractive, but the team at SMPnet did not understand where it should focus their deployment, either as a grid management software or as a microgrid application for energy communities. The business primarily focused on innovation projects with limited scope of full commercial deployments until the market maturity was there.
SLES are an emerging market, however Network Operators are already exploring system architectures to provide optimisation of multiple and sophisticated assets. SMPnet’s controller is a key component in providing these Network Operators with the control required to enable the SLES market to develop.
There was a requirement to gain insights into the problems, needs and priorities of Network Operators to position SMPnet’s solution to help build customer confidence and encourage greater adoption. This consumer insight work would support the development of the design blueprints for a MVP SaaS product, and understand the value being created.
SMPnet, an agile startup, leverages its advanced power grid management framework, Omega, to coordinate energy assets towards meeting operational objectives. Omega efficiently manages local power flows and voltages across multiple scales.
Uniquely positioned in the market, SMPnet’s solutions provide real-time, millisecond-level, dynamic control. This unprecedented responsiveness fosters 100% renewable penetration to the distribution grid and unlocks multiple value streams, driving increased revenue for clients while ensuring grid stability. SMPnet is shaping a more secure, efficient, and sustainable energy future by integrating seamlessly with existing technologies and prioritising renewable energy sources.
Following earlier work which helped the business understand the UK marketplace and where their value proposition fit into the competitive landscape, the Catapult supported the development of proof-of-concept use cases. This enabled SMPnet to identify and segment target groups with complex energy systems architecture and diverse equipment who would benefit most from utilising coordinated optimisation and real-time control.
A digital fitness assessment helped understand SMPnet’s data readiness, identifying data sources and modelling required to integrate the datasets into different algorithms.
The Catapult also supported with investment generation and investor readiness programme, developing go-to market resources, including a high-level overview of the opportunity and introductions to qualified investors. A final piece of work, as part of a wider cohort, was to investigate the regulatory landscape and understand which regulations apply to these energy technologies.
Energy Launchpad’s Incubator
Energy Systems Catapult is home to the Energy Launchpad, which provides carefully selected energy innovators with tailored business incubation and acceleration support to help address barriers to growth, de-risk innovation, scale-up the business and secure investment.
Tailored support for selected SMEs utilising the Catapult assets and capabilities, and delivery partner offerings, such as business model development, energy system integration assessment, consumer insights guidance, digital fitness, market testing and validation, investor readiness, specialist advice, as well as identification for Acceleration support.
Energy Launchpad started this project by hosting a workshop with SMPnet to identify use cases. From this we delivered:
Customer Value Propositions: To understand the specific value of smart network controllers to two key user groups: Engineering and Procurement Contractors (EPCs) and industrial energy users.
User Research: Comprehensive desk, market and user research was carried out to stress test their business models. The market research involved comprehensive semi-structured surveys to understand target groups’ needs, current procurement methods and factors they consider valuable from a controller.
Business Model Innovation: After the initial research, we hosted another workshop with SMPnet to identify assumptions within their business model. We then conducted additional market research to validate these assumptions before presenting a revised business model, value proposition and developing a Minimum Viable Product SaaS offering.
Anastasios Oulis Rousis, Smart Power Networks' CEO and Co-Founder
“We deeply believe in the work we have been doing with the Catapult team. It added lots of value to our business and its impact will be seen across 2023 and beyond, as we delve into commercial engagements. The various activities have been an eye-opener, as we got the chance to expand on aspects unknown to us, including business modelling, customer journey, and more”.
Over 40 stakeholders were consulted to build a clear picture of the value SMPnet could offer.
SMPnet were able to prove the concept with an installation at a microgrid in Brighton, where they reduced dependency on buying energy off grid and proving more than 20% annual cost savings.
Sourced investment that helped scale the team to a headcount of 8.
Deeper market analysis helped SMPnet understand the market space in which they sat. Helped SMPnet understand that their value lay not just with power distribution but with consumers of power. Working also with customers where they could control system and storage assets and monitor demand.
Helped the business understand how to realise and monetise their asset by selling data analytics to microgrid operators who are keen to understand their usage behaviours.
Provided forward recommendations such as creating a common data repository and exposing a well-documented REST API.
SMPnet have secured further grant investment for the next phase of market entry and validation.
Further work and price modelling is required to understand the value proposition of the data.
SMPnet should seek further opportunities to prove the concept within wider use cases in additional trial sites.
Raise further awareness of the concept and motivate decision makers, stakeholders, and early adopters to consider the benefits of coordinated optimisation and real-time control.
With the technology being at a mature stage, collaborate with industry and competitors to define a route to market / market development planning to drive investment.
Energy Launchpad & International
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