RWE Innovation Division expands into the USA, bringing high-tech products from Silicon Valley to Germany
Close collaboration with innovative technology start-ups
RWE is making great strides with its innovation campaign. Following his visit to the Californian RWE New Ventures LLC in Silicon Valley, CEO of RWE AG, Peter Terium, announced the start of a range of collaborative projects with innovative technology start-ups. “I decided to make Innovation a CEO priority, as I firmly believe it is crucial to our future success. And the progress our Innovation Division has made in the space of one year is quite remarkable. Our small US team in the hot spot of Silicon Valley plays a very special role in this”, says Terium.
RWE prefers partnerships of equals: “There are many clever start-ups prepared to crunch the numbers for anything you may need, but we have the customers – all 23 million of them – and we know what they want”, says Peter Terium. Collaborating with US start-ups is a win-win situation because both sides benefit: “It allows us to develop products that meet customer needs – we want to make energy an enjoyable experience for our customers in Europe and the USA”, says the CEO.
RWE is the first German provider to introduce the products of the “Bidgely” start-up company to Germany. “Customers will be able to track the power-hungriest appliances in their own home and in real time too”, says Thomas Birr, Head of Strategy and Innovation at RWE. They will be able to answer questions like: ‘What does a load of washing really cost me?’, or ‘Whoops, did I forget to turn the iron off?’ just by glancing at their mobile phone. “Having access to such personalised energy intelligence is a real bonus, particularly given our aging society”, says Birr.
The existing collaboration with US provider KnGrid will also be expanded. For RWE, this is all about gaining a foothold in the US infrastructure market for electric vehicle charging points. Thomas Birr: “If we succeed in making our mark in the US growth market of electric mobility by marketing our charging technology there, it could prove to be a very lucrative business for us.” For, unlike the situation in Germany, there are considerable tax benefits for people buying electric vehicles in the US, which makes them a popular option. There are already over 52,000 EVs on the road in California – or half of all electric vehicles in the US and a quarter of the global market.
Together with the Californian innovation platform “Mach 49“, RWE wants to export the successful business model “PowerHouse” that was originally developed in the Netherlands and market it to corporate customers in the USA. As the energy service provider, RWE will help companies purchase power at favourable rates, reduce their power consumption and also market the energy they produce themselves. RWE involvement with STEM also promises to deliver innovations for the industry. The Californian supplier of smart energy storage units is rated by the World Economic Forum as one of the 50 most promising start-ups for new technologies.
However, RWE does not want to restrict itself to individual partnerships alone in Silicon Valley: “We want a piece of the entire spectrum of innovation”, says Peter Terium, “which is why we intend to invest USD 15 million in a reputable venture capital fund focusing on green technologies.”
What’s more, RWE also plans to set up a strategic venture capital fund of its own, with a ceiling of EUR 130 million.