“Disruptive” building efficiency solutions battle for Aus Tech Comp top prize

(L-R): CIM Environmental Group's David Walsh, Amirali Mortazavi and Antonious Mickaeal
(L-R): CIM Environmental Group's David Walsh, Amirali Mortazavi and Antonious Mickaeal

“Disruptive” technology to greatly improve building energy efficiency is among the finalists set to battle it out for the Australian Technologies Competition grand prize to be announced in October.

The competition, now in its fifth year, aims to find businesses with growth potential and put them on the path to global success.

“We aim to find the best companies, provide them with the best mentoring possible and connect them with global partners,” competition organiser John O’Brien said. “We want to help create multi-billion dollar global success stories.”

David Walsh

David Walsh

One hopeful this year is CIM Environmental Group, which has developed a hardware and software platform that pinpoints energy wastage in buildings, and promises to cut up to 11 per cent of total energy use, according to company chief executive and founder David Walsh.

The technology, called the ACE Platform, analyses data from the “industrial internet” and instantly detects faults within a building, Walsh says.

“People were looking at energy usage but no one was looking at why it happened,” he says. “I took my knowledge of computer science and combined it with what I had learned from working with energy companies and developed a hardware and software solution to capture the data within buildings.”

He says faults can take months or years to recognise under a conventional maintenance model, but his technology can immediately tell a technician where and what fault has occurred, and the best way to fix it.

Walsh says no one else in the world is tackling the building energy efficiency problem like CIM, which promises to “disrupt big data”.

“This software could revolutionise traditional engineering. I believe we have the potential to become the Uber of the engineering world,” he says.

It’s already being used in building’s like Sydney’s MLC Centre and Intercontinental Hotel, and Victoria’s State Library, and the payback is under a year.

Mr Walsh says that if the technology were installed in 1000 buildings across Australia, savings would amount to 11 per cent of the country’s annual solar production, as well as almost $40 million in savings.

“The cheapest gigawatt of power you will ever have is the one you don’t use,” he says.

While Walsh hopes the Australian Technologies Competition will see business boom, the company is already on solid ground.

It currently has five full-time staff (all computer scientists or mechanical engineers), three consultants and is set to grow to 15 by the end of the year.

It’s been doubling revenue every three months since the beginning of the year and will turn $1.2 million by the end of 2015.

Demand is currently through word of mouth and existing clients, and there is interest from property owners in Asia, though these cannot be serviced until an office is set up in the region.

Stiff competition from Switch Automation

deb noller

Deb Noller

CIM isn’t alone in the smart building space, though, with already established company Switch Automation also joining the finalists in the competition.

The Australian company, led by Deb Noller, is expanding further into the US this year and in 2013 was selected to provide a data acquisition and monitoring platform for more than 120 buildings in the Seattle 2030 District.

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Its building automation and energy management software collects live data from existing systems such as building management systems and smart meters, as well as data feeds and historical data from sources such as financial systems, suppliers, utilities and weather services. The cloud-based platform allows easy measurement and comparison between every building in a portfolio.

In February, the company announced a seed fundraising round of $1.25 million led by female-focused Australian angel investor network Scale Investors to continue its US expansion.

Harvard MBA and strategist Lisa Ray Hennessy, who co-led the investment, said Switch offered a demonstrated demand, along with product offerings that were differentiated in the market and businesses that could be scaled on a global level.

“There was consistent feedback from the market place that Switch’s product offering stands out among its competition and delivers discernible value to its customers,” she said.

The winner of the Australian Technologies Competition will be announced on October 20.

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