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From buildings to grids: ABB challenge showcases AI solutions for energy optimization

May 10, 2024  By  Anthony Capkun

Edgecom Energy

May 10, 2024 – Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 ABB Startup Challenge, two of which hail from Canada: Edgecom Energy and Xaba Inc.

The competition invited start-ups to explore how AI could be incorporated into existing energy industry platforms and systems to support the energy transition and a low-carbon future.

“The ABB Startup Challenge is all about enabling collaboration—from sharing insights to building on each other’s strengths,” said ABB’s Anton Kotov, head of Corporate Strategy and M&A. “Our aim is to create long-term relationships with talented entrepreneurs. The judges were hugely impressed by the caliber of entrants and the solutions they brought to this year’s contest.”

Smart power challenge winner

Edgecom Energy

Canada’s Edgecom Energy created an AI-based digital optimization engine that is designed to optimize energy usage in industrial and commercial buildings. Its virtual energy manager operates round-the-clock, gathering and assessing real-time data from facilities, weather conditions, energy costs, etc., then generates the best possible 24-hour schedule for managing loads and other energy-related tasks within the facility.

Smart buildings challenge winner

KUGU Home GmbH

KUGU Home GmbH’s AI-driven automation solution improves energy optimization in smart buildings. It is a real-time decarbonization platform that enables real estate companies to meet their energy cost and emissions targets. Kugu’s patented solution, which offers energy savings of up to 30%, optimizes the operation of all energy assets in buildings and enables early detection of defects and malfunctions of energy systems.

Distribution solutions challenge winner


Enline’s software solution enables dynamic grid management to better understand the status of the grid. Using AI and digital twins, Enline aims to make energy monitoring and optimization a simpler task for asset managers, while avoiding the installation of new sensors.

Motion drive products challenge winner

Xaba Inc.

Canada’s Xaba Inc. developed an AI-based machine builder solution that creates multiple optimized machine configurations, considering factors such as cost, component compatibility, lead time, and performance. This eliminates the need for extensive part catalogue browsing and drastically reduces the engineering hours currently required to configure machines or automation equipment.

Now in its fifth year, the challenge saw 164 applicants from more than 36 countries, with the four winners selected from among 12 finalists. Winners are awarded a collaboration project with ABB worth $30,000 US to develop a minimum viable product (MVP), and the opportunity to launch a common solution for ABB’s customers.

Winners also receive mentoring from Microsoft’s and Synerleap’s start-up advisors, and a six-month membership to SynerLeap (ABB’s start-up accelerator).

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