As a result of the phasing out of nuclear energy and the associated expansion of renewable energies, German energy supply companies are faced with a multitude of challenges particularly in their core areas of generation/trading, sales and the grids business.
This development has been accompanied by the complex fragmentation of the market and an increased demand from customers for individual solutions and above all for technical developments such as highly scalable, intelligent IT platforms. However, this has now all resulted in a further transformation of the energy world – an “Energiewende 2.0” which is being ushered in on a new digital level. This has caused the energy world to become blurred with other sectors. New competitors, especially those with a high level of IT expertise, are forcing their way onto the existing market. At the same time, the Internet of things, new forms of mobility concepts or the vision of an intelligent, networked city are opening up a great deal of potential for the creation of new business models both for them and also for us as a traditional energy supplier.
New business models outside of linear developments
In order to successfully position ourselves against the competition in this agile, fast-paced and innovative environment, we have been supporting internal startups within the Group to establish new business models on the market outside of the existing Group structures for the last two and a half years. At our own Innovation Campus founded in Karlsruhe for this purpose, seven teams are now concentrating on the following themes: “Virtual Power Plant”, “Smart City”, “Connected Home” and “Future Mobility”.
In addition, we are increasingly cooperating with startups in order to supplement the business models developed at the Campus with external skills (as an example, read more about Ipf-Energie, a regional energy product in cooperation with EnBW ODR, the city of Bopfingen and the startup Lumenaza. Furthermore, we also have the opportunity to invest in strategically relevant startups via the newly founded EnBW New Ventures GmbH.
Support from Baden-Württemberg
In order to jointly open up new market opportunities in partnership with startups, we are specifically seeking support from Baden-Württemberg: A unique startup ecosystem is currently emerging here thanks to cooperation with top-class universities based in Southwest Germany, established entrepreneurial networks and a large number of major corporations and hidden champions. Initiatives such as ACTIVATR are using this environment to already bring together companies and entrepreneurs at the idea generation phase and thus to combine the advantages of both worlds – corporate expertise and market access on the one hand and entrepreneurial behaviour and agility on the other – at an early stage. The results speak for themselves: In the startup binando (www.binando.rocks), which emerged early this year from the ACTIVATR initiative, the two founders will already be providing their intelligent waste management solution to their first pilot customers with our assistance by the end of the year.
The new.New Festival, which is currently taking place in Karlsruhe and where we are represented as an innovation partner, also offers us the opportunity to discuss the latest challenges, jointly develop solutions and gain partners on the path to the digital energy world in workshops, pitches and panel discussions under the motto “EnBW – 360° digital”.
Do you have a startup company and this type of partnership appeals to you? We look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author: Christine Wienhold studied industrial engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). She completed the EnBW Group’s trainee programme from early 2011 and subsequently accompanied the restructuring of EnBW Operations for two years as a business engineer. Since September 2014, she has worked as a programme manager within the Innovation Management Department at EnBW in the search for disruptive and sustainable business models to support the transformation of EnBW. She is active as a business developer in the startup scene in Southern Germany and particularly in Baden-Württemberg and provides support to the EnBW internal startups.