ABB innovation challenge sees six start-ups win funding

ABB innovation challenge sees six start-ups win funding

ABB IdeaHub Innovation Challenge

Swiss-Swedish power and automation company ABB and IdeaHub, an innovation platform, have identified six start-ups for funding via an ‘innovation challenge’.

The two companies kicked off their search in November 2016, looking for “customer-focused collaborations”. Applicants were asked to provide solutions for ABB’s Drive business unit, focusing on three themes: simplicity, connectivity and intelligence.

ABB says it received around 100 applications, of which roughly one-quarter went on to be reviewed by company stakeholders, including employees from sales, product management, and research and development. The list was whittled down further, to just 10 ventures, representatives of which were invited to pitch their solutions to senior managers from the ABB Drives business unit at a day-long session held in London in April.

The six winners, the names of which have not been disclosed, have been selected “to take on the challenge of transforming the role of variable speed drives in an industrial setting,” according to ABB.

Pitch day

Simon Blair of IdeaHub described the London pitch day as “a great success, a long day but a very rewarding day hearing about new industrial innovations, all of which were relevant for ABB Drives.”

The ABB team did not let the ventures off lightly, asking challenging questions, he added. “However, these sessions confirmed the relevance of each venture, their technology and team. In the end, it was a hard decision to select just six ventures, but ABB now has a strong portfolio to deliver some great results over the next three months.”

Read more: IIoT ambitions give rise to thriving start-up scene, says CB Insights

Joining the fourth industrial revolution

According to ABB, three of the companies selected specialize in artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies; one company is providing an intuitive visual development platform to create enterprise mobile and web apps; another is developing self-tuning controller software; and the final company is delivering solutions for remote expert support worldwide via a ruggedized augmented reality (AR) glasses system.

“Investing in strategic partnerships helps develop solutions that improve our customers’ operational performance and productivity by increasing uptime, speed and output,” Juho Vuorio, digital innovation manager at ABB, told Internet of Business.

“Collaboration with innovators like the ones in the challenge may create great value to our customers by combining ABB’s domain expertise with a niche solution from the innovator. ABB is writing the future together with customers, partners and innovators.”

ABB will now enter validation period in which the company says it will assess its “assumptions of solution value and fit through pilots and proof of value projects”. Based on the outcome of these proof of concepts, ABB expects to commercialize any products or services in co-operation with the start-ups through the challenge.

Meanwhile, ABB and IdeaHub have teamed up once again, this time in search of ideas for ABB’s Robotics business. The three themes in the new challenge are: simplicity; big data and machine learning; and the factory of the future. The deadline for this new innovation challenge is 31 July 2017.

Read more: Only 1.5 percent of execs say their organisation has a clear IIoT vision