SmartHelio receives CHF 100’000 to make solar panels smarter and more sustainable

FIT | 24 November 2020

The Vaud-based cleantech start-up and EPFL spin-off aims at improving the efficiency of solar panels thanks to AI-driven data analytics. The Foundation for Technological Innovation (FIT) has chosen to support SmartHelio in fulfilling this mission with a Tech Seed loan of CHF 100’000.

Solar energy is one of the key pillars of sustainable energy and installations of solar panel installations have multiplied in the last decade to fight climate change. Yet, the maintenance of solar panels is usually done manually and reactive maintenance is often chosen over preventing faults and dysfunctions, due to the difficulty of detecting anomalies. This results in high losses of time and money.

With its flagship product, the HelioHealth sensor, SmartHelio wants to solve the solar industry’s challenges of highly manual and reactive maintenance practices. The sensor is deployed on the solar panel to gather data at a granular level and can also seamlessly collect data from any third-party monitoring system. HelioHealth is paired with machine learning models, to automate solar panel diagnostics and prescriptions for pro-active maintenance. The processed data is then provided in the form of patterns and analyses that can be used by the operational teams. SmartHelio thereby enables to improve performance and maximize the return on investment of solar assets.

Originally from the EPFL, the cleantech start-up also collaborates on research and development aspects with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Lucerne and the University of Applied Sciences in Italian-speaking Switzerland (SUSPI). SmartHelio’s promising project has granted them numerous supports, in Switzerland and abroad: Platinn, Genilem, Cambridge Cleantech, Venture Kick, REPIC, Banque Alternative Suisse, and Vaud’s Office for Economic Affairs and Innovation. Simultaneously, the start-up managed to raise over one million dollars in convertible loans and non-dilutive grants.

Since its foundation in 2019, SmartHelio has grown to a team of more than ten, spread across Switzerland, France, and India. The team is working towards the future goals of developing features such as edge-computing based fault detection, asset due diligence, and financial forecasting to maximize the return on investment in solar energy. With the aim to build a one-stop solution for clean energy asset management, SmartHelio is also expanding its deep data analytics solutions in energy storage and electric vehicles.

“We plan to use the FIT loan to further develop our technology and scale up in larger markets, as well as to grow our team of Superhumans”, explained Govinda Upadhyay, SmartHelio’s CEO. The start-up indeed targets the solar utility market with its revenue increase and cost reduction solutions, while its geographic reach is spread across Europe and Asia. SmartHelio is then planning to expand into the US in 2021.

Govinda Upadhyay

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