Infralab, the innovative centre where startups aim to disrupt the network

Published on Friday, 5 April 2019

As the world becomes more populated, urban and connected, the impending challenge is to build a sustainable infrastructure for the cities of tomorrow. At Enel, we firmly believe that open and sustainable innovation is more than a trend: it’s a necessity. Our global network of Enel Innovation Hubs connects us with the most promising startups and their innovative technologies and business models that can help us fulfil our commitment to change the world for the better.

We have been active in Israel’s vibrant startup environment since 2016 when we launched our Enel Innovation Hub Tel Aviv. Through this ecosystem, which is at the forefront of technological innovation, we bring our international teams together to directly develop solutions with the most promising startups. In 2018, Enel was selected by the Israeli Innovation Authority to launch the Haifa Infralab together with renowned Israeli construction and infrastructure company Shikun & Binui.  At Infralab, “We carry out scouting activities to connect relevant startups and other players in the innovation ecosystem to the Infralab, so they can follow up and explore other opportunities,” explains Eran Levy, the Hub manager in Tel Aviv.

An ambitious project to connect technologies

Situated in Haifa, Infralab is Enel’s second innovation centre in Israel. The three hundred square metre facility focuses on technological development in the fields of construction, smart infrastructure and smart grid technology. Here, promising startups have access to laboratories in which to develop and test solutions as well as opportunities to work closely with energy and infrastructure domain experts. The CEO of Infralab, Yogev Katzir explains: “We are defining challenges with Enel professionals and working with them in order to develop ground-breaking technologies for the energy market.”

“Our goal is to change the Energy industry and move to the next stage of the Network Digital Twin in collaboration with Israeli startups and Enel”

– Yogev Katzir, CEO of Infralab

For Enel, the primary objective of Infralab is to investigate the connections between physical infrastructure and the digital world. To this end, we are making advances in the research and development of the Network Digital Twin, a new solution that leverages multiple technologies in order to create a virtual copy of networks and plants. These virtual copies are identical to the real-life structures and facilitate the use of data-driven methods in the management of infrastructure assets. “Our goal is to change the Energy industry and move to the next stage of the Network Digital Twin in collaboration with Israeli startups and Enel,” specifies Katzir.

Infralab is an oasis in Haifa for emerging startups

Unlike Enel’s other Hub in Tel Aviv that focuses on identifying startups with advanced technologies and business models, the Infralab collaborates with startups still in their initial phases of development. Even though it was launched just six months ago, the Infralab is already flourishing. It has incorporated 10 startups, including FieldBit, Pixtier, Civdrone, PDP Tech and NoManDig, which are all currently developing and testing solutions at the facility.

In the six months since the collaboration began, these startups have already been able to improve their concepts as well as add value to Enel’s network. Here’s what some have to say about the experience:

The team at FieldBit is developing remote assistance solutions in real-time augmented reality for smart glasses. “We create interactive cloud platforms for field services. The objective is to solve problems faster and more efficiently, to capture best practices from the field and to share them across the organisation,” explains Alex Rapoport, VP Marketing. FieldBit’s contribution is particularly relevant to the development of the human interface of the Network Digital Twin.,Rapoport adds, “Enel helped us to better understand all those cases and how our solutions can be implemented in different industrial environments.”

Pixtier is creating the backbone of the Network Digital Twin. The startup’s platform for automated 3D modelling and analysis “offers an analytical and maintenance tool to manage the infrastructure,” reveals Dror Ouzana, CEO of Pitxier. “It saves money, it’s good for the people and the user will gain the most value from it.”

Civdrone, co-founded by Liav Muler, specializes in drone technology.. He explains that their startup “creates drones with marking capabilities for infrastructure projects.” At Infralab, Civdrone is developing a robotic marking mechanism with the ability to survey land and provide data updates to smart devices in real-time in order to increase construction site productivity.

PDP Tech works on real-time monitoring and analytics for predictive maintenance of electrical equipment as well as the development of predictive algorithms. PDP Tech contributes to the IoT and intelligence layers of the Network Digital Twin. For CEO Dany Michaelis, “Infralab offers space and a direct connection with our immediate customer, which is Enel.”

Eliyahu Attias is the CEO of NoManDig; the startup’s focus is on the importance of identifying and valuing the needs of the end user. Attais explains: “It’s interesting to work with Enel and to hear about the worldwide challenges because it is a big company and they know the markets of many countries. It’s very useful to hear their feedback and understand what the problems are.”

In addition to these companies, the list of startups includes Rapida, Volex Power, LightYx, GreenVibe and UrecSys, which are developing the projects of the future at Infralab. As a reward for their participation, the startups selected as Infralab companies receive funding by the Israeli Innovation Authority that covers up to 85% of project costs. So far, three startups have been approved. Israel is home to a promising landscape of startups, many of which looking forwardaspire to collaborateing with Enel at Infralab. Our innovation journey together is only just beginning. 

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