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Powerful collaboration fuels innovative ideas

Background

As the operator of the eight nuclear power stations in the UK, EDF Energy is committed to adopting innovative technologies and techniques to maintain the excellent operational performance of their fleet and their commitment to nuclear safety.

To achieve the benefits of advances in Industrial IoT with the limited bandwidth available, EDF Energy wanted to adopt an ‘Open Innovation’ approach and work with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), specialising in sensor technology and edge analytics, to develop a solution that could achieve their goals, within the constraints of a challenging environment.

Approach

In November 2017, Sensor City teamed up with EDF Energy to launch a Challenge event offering companies, entrepreneurs and academics with suitable solutions to a number of challenges the potential to tackle these ‘case studies’.

The challenges ranged from remote real-time monitoring of analogue displays, to predictive maintenance monitoring of water pumps.

17 applications were received from applicants who believed that they had the knowledge and technology that could help to address each of the corporate challenges raised.

The submissions were reviewed by the challenge statement owners and following a round of telephone Q&A sessions, a shortlist of eight successful SME applicants was drawn up. These applicants were invited to pitch their proposed solutions to a panel, comprised of the EDF Energy problem statement owners and Sensor City Directors.

On 14th December 2017, the eight shortlisted companies pitched their solutions to the expert panel in closed session.

Those selected to pitch came from all over the country, with attendees travelling from the South East (London, Saffron Walden), South West (Gosport and Stroud) and North West (Daresbury, Wirral, Manchester).

Outcome

Following a very successful series of presentations, discussions and deliberations, six of the eight companies are now entering into further discussions with EDF Energy.

Dave Stanley, Project Manager in the Innovation Delivery Team at EDF Energy said: “We were very interested to work with Sensor City to explore a different approach to open innovation for EDF Energy Generation.

“We were very pleased with the way that the community responded to our challenges and the quality of the companies that came forward. The submissions and presentations on the day were excellent and we had a real challenge in choosing which companies to progress with first.”

EDF Energy has identified two companies that they want to progress discussions with immediately to take them forward to a Proof of Concept pilot, with the aim of putting a prototype into field trials at one of their nuclear power stations.

Further questions are being addressed with two other shortlisted participants, in order to scope the full potential for interaction.

Dr Joanne Phoenix, Business Development lead for Sensor City said: “Our aim at Sensor City is to build a community of sensor related companies and to provide corporates with facilitated access to exciting new innovations within the SME base, whilst providing the SMEs with new routes to market.

“The fact that EDF Energy are progressing discussions with so many of the companies that pitched to them also demonstrates the value that we can bring to the community through our activities and we hope to be able to do more of the same with other corporates in the near future.”

A follow up announcement regarding the outcome of these collaborations will be released later this year.

More information

Sensor City offers a corporate partnership package which includes open innovation support, showcasing opportunities and a hot desk deal.

This allows larger corporates to mix directly with the sensor community based within Sensor City’s new state-of-the-art facility, which houses both mechanical and electrical engineering workshops.

For more information on how to get involved, please email: info@sensorcity.co.uk

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