The smart money is on Antonio

As energy costs soar, so too does the demand for the type of innovative energy-saving solutions being developed by Dublin start-up company Wattics, which aims to revolutionise this market.

The company’s solution involves the use of a smart meter, attached to the mains, being used in conjunction with Wattics’ designed software which can track the energy usage of each individual appliance used by a company or organisation.

Company chief executive and co-founder Antonio Ruzzelli says the technology is revolutionary due to its unique capability to identify energy loads by individual appliance, enabling users to understand in much more detail the source of their power consumption.

Launched in early 2011, Wattics now has many Irish customers across a wide range of industry sectors including Jurys Hotel Group, KPMG, Dublin Airport, Office of Public Works, Pfizer and Cork Institute of Technology.

They began selling in the UK through a partner earlier this year and, more recently, have set up a new partnership in South Africa and are in partnership negotiations with companies in both Italy and Japan.

“We have ambitious plans to develop sales internationally and are planning to achieve a multi-million turnover within two to three years,’’ says Dr Ruzzelli, adding that the aim is to establish a network of partnerships with both energy management and manufacturing companies.

An electrical engineer from Italy, he carried out energy research at UCD and went on to set up Wattics in 2011 with three of his fellow researchers, Anthony Schoofs and Romain Vigo Benia from France and fellow Italian, Alex Sintoni.

The spin-out company was set up to commercialise the energy-saving technology which was developed at NOVA UCD. Dr Ruzzelli says this research focused on how energy was being used.

“We put a device at the mains and found that there were highs at certain times of the day and lows at other times and there were some anomalies,” he said.

Doing research into the patterns, the researchers discovered that each appliance generated a unique signature which could be identified.

Wattics developed the software and the dashboard, trialling it during a proof-of-concept phase before launching on the market in 2011, selling on a software-as-a-service basis.

According to Dr Ruzzelli, one of the key differences between this and other energy-saving solutions is that it does not require expensive retro-fitting or the use of individual meters for each appliance.

“We offer savings starting at 15% and, in some cases, savings of up to 40%. In Dublin Airport Terminal 1, electricity costs were reduced by 40%. We have demonstrated a return-on- investment for clients which takes between three months and a year.”

Wattics have been targeting companies and organisations with high energy usage such as food proccessing, retail and hotels. With some assistance from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Wattics has this year begun selling its solutions to a number of fish processing companies such as Shellfish de La Mer and Errigal Seafoods.

“Our first export customer was Mandat, a large hotel in Germany used by UN delegates. Through our channel partner in South Africa, we have sold to a number of Total Oil forecourt sites.”

Having built up a customer base in Ireland and proved the efficacy of the solution, Wattics is now expanding on a global level. Identified as a high potential start-up by Enterprise Ireland in 2012, Wattics has recently raised funding through Irrus Investments, a business angel syndicate, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland, to enable them to scale the business globally.

Dr Ruzzelli says Wattics technology has attracted significant interest from a number of well-known multinational companies, who have expressed an interest to partner with Wattics to avail of their unique technology. He says the demand for the solution has been good, particularly in the export market.

“Sales for this year are expected to be four times the level of last year, in the first quarter of the year we achieved the sales level of 2012.”

At present, exports account for 30% of sales but Wattics projects that this will rise to 50% by 2014 and 70% by 2015. The key focus for the next three years is on Europe, South Africa and the Far East. Dr Ruzzelli sees scope for developing sales in Japan and South Korea.

The staff number has now grown to 15 and the company is recruiting additional technical and sales staff. To cater for the ever expanding workforce, the company has recently moved out of its incubation space at NOVA UCD and into a larger office at the Triangle in Ranelagh.

Dr Ruzzelli expects the staff size to increase to more than 25 within the next three years.


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