Energy company Fortum and software agency Futurice are embarking on a new kind of cooperation that combines their expertise in solar energy and software design.
The aim of the cooperation is to create a solution that provides easier access to electricity for people in developing countries. In less than two hours the earth receives from the sun the amount of energy that is consumed annually. At the same time 1.3 billion people lack a dependable source of electricity.
The idea is to develop a platform that would help local solar companies offer solar energy systems to households. The Software-as-a-Service concept would offer a solution for solar companies to secure the payment from end-customers and to provide better customer support, as well as a more reliable system. One solution is the pay-as-you-go model which allows people who can’t afford their own panels to purchase electricity. By replacing the current services with a digital solution that can be used without a smartphone, via text messaging or other solutions, the potential user pool grows considerably.
The solution will be developed in an open innovation process by combining the resources and know-how of Fortum and Futurice. Fortum has expertise in developing energy systems and in industrial-scale solar power in India as well as offering solar solutions for private and business customers in Nordics. Futurice is an expert in the development of digital services, applications, and solution architecture.
"By combining digital know-how, the Internet of Things and solar energy in an open innovation process, we are aiming for a new solution and business model that would have a concrete impact on sustainable development,” says R&D Manager Catarina Naucler from Fortum.
“For Futurice, the cooperation represents a new way of working side-by-side with a strategic partner and in selected projects moving from service provider to equal business partner. We want to find new ways of working and create new, evolving and agile ecosystems. One way to do this is to establish startups with our corporate partners,” Future & startups Principal Anni Harju from Futurice states.
The open innovation process is started by developing and prototyping the solution. If the development phase is successful, a commercial pilot could be started in fall 2017.
Cooperation with Futurice is a good example of building new energy ventures, which is one of the cornerstones of Fortum's strategy. These kinds of partnerships are important in innovating both new technologies and business models in the changing energy industry landscape.