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13.09.2023 | The Power of Open Innovation at Axpo

Collaborating with startups for a more sustainable future

To drive innovation towards Net-Zero, Axpo is pushing its open innovation activities together with startup accelerator Bluelion. As a first step, with a call for innovation, Axpo is looking for startups to co-create and implement innovative solutions for two specific challenges: Improving sustainability in power grids with building information modelling (BIM) and reducing CO2 emissions and/or costs in hydrogen logistics.

As a leading energy company committed to sustainability, Axpo joined the Net-Zero Hub to partner with Bluelion, and other corporates, startups, universities, and government to drive innovation towards Net-Zero. This partnership brings together Axpo's expertise in the energy sector, the knowledge and power of other member companies and startups, and Bluelion's entrepreneurial spirit, creating a powerful synergy that benefits our organizations and society.

Thanks to the digital working method BIM, construction plans can be visualised digitally. The result is a more efficient process, especially when it comes to planning and costs.

One area where Axpo would like to benefit from such a synergy is building information modelling (BIM). New BIM technologies are paving the way for improved resource and energy efficiency in construction projects for renovation and new builds. With BIM, decision-making can be optimized throughout the entire asset life cycle, reducing waste, improving asset utilization, and lowering resource consumption. By leveraging the power of BIM, buildings and infrastructure assets can be designed, constructed, operated, and even demolished with sustainability in mind, helping us to move closer to a Net-Zero future. “The BIM-method will help us to efficiently mine the vast amount of data needed to plan, build and operate our infrastructure in a sustainable way”, says Jimeno Fonseca Head of BIM at Axpo Grid.


Encourage open innovation with “calls for innovation”

One of the most important ways Axpo profits from such partnership with Bluelion is through open innovation. Bluelion provides a platform to scout, mentor, and invest in startups that align with our purpose and sustainability goals, allowing us to tap into the hub’s ecosystem and drive impactful change. By collaborating with other companies and startups, we gain access to fresh ideas, cutting-edge technologies, and innovative business models that can help us accelerate our transition to a Net-Zero future.

With so-called “calls for innovation”, Bluelion supports Axpo in identifying and connecting with innovative startups to select the best solution for a joint proof of concept (PoC). After an initial scoping of a specific business challenge, Bluelion scouts for relevant startups, resulting in a longlist of potential suitable startups. Assessing the longlist to identify the most promising startups, and small workshops to scope a PoC with shortlisted startups helps select the best startups to run a proof of concept.  Axpo is currently running two exciting call for innovation campaigns.

Also in the business area of hydrogen Axpo is looking for synergys with innovative startups 

Another synergy could be in the area of Hydrogen. Green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energy sources, could be a key factor in the global shift towards decarbonization. Despite the nascent stage of the hydrogen market, slow offtake development and handling inefficiencies, Axpo recognizes the enormous potential of this commodity and has defined it as a strategic growth field. The company plans to invest in the development of hydrogen production plants, operations optimization, and marketing, with the goal of building up the hydrogen economy in Switzerland and in Europe. 

 “We are facing high uncertainties related to the development of hydrogen projects and their economics in the short-term. However, to reach decarbonization and proposed net-zero objectives, a considerable demand for hydrogen and its derivatives in the long term is undisputed.”, says Luka Cuderman Hydrogen Market Intelligence& Business Strategy Lead at Axpo. 


With collaborations to a greener world

Through such collaborations with startups, Axpo aims to lead the energy transition, shape the future of sustainable energy, and contribute to a greener and more prosperous world. These two calls for innovation are just the beginning. Axpo is willing to push its open innovation activities further with additional calls for innovation and other formats to leverage the entrepreneurial spirit of startups to accelerate our transition to Net-Zero. In addition to startups, Axpo will also continue to engage in open innovation with universities and other partners to co-create and implement innovative solutions.

At Axpo, we are looking for startups that can help us make hydrogen logistics more efficient by reducing costs and/or CO2 emissions. As well we are looking for startups that can help us increase the sustainability and efficiency of power grid with BIM. With this link, interested Startups can apply.

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