Urbio secures funding to accelerate the energy transition
The spin-off from EPFL Valais develops a software that helps the key actors of the energy transition plan and design the most efficient energy infrastructure and technologies to heat, cool and electrify buildings – one of the leading sources of carbon emissions. In early February, cleantech start-up Urbio was granted a Tech Seed loan from FIT (Foundation for Technological Innovation) and secured an investment from leading climate and cities-focused investor, Urban Us.
Urbio is the first “generative design” software for planning and designing efficient energy technologies for buildings and to reduce carbon emissions. Developed in two doctoral theses at EPFL, Urbio blends the analytical strengths of humans and advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to generate optimized plans based on hundreds of criteria like CO2 emissions, technical parameters for renewable technologies, renovation rates, energy prices, or costs for different actors.
Initial applications show that time spent on design tasks can be divided by 10 while improving solution cost and carbon-efficiency by 15%. Today, customers must first reconcile data from scattered sources, then manually design energy systems for each building, and finally evaluate their technical and financial feasibility with ad-hoc tools. Urbio streamlines the entire process in a single platform and automates the generation of highly customized proposals for individual buildings or entire municipalities.
Urbio is led by three co-founders, Sébastien Cajot, Nils Schüler and Nicolas Sommer. The team combines experience in human-computer interaction, computational methods, energy planning, as well as in management of major commercial projects in the energy industry. Since its creation in 2020, Urbio was applied in 8 commercial pilot projects with industrial partners, and has received multiple innovation grants and awards, including from the Swiss Innovation Agency, Swiss National Science Foundation, Hasler Foundation, EPFL’s Tech4impact and Enable, and the Herbert & Audrey Rosenfield Fund, in order to improve and transfer the technology to the market.
In February 2021, Urbio received a Tech Seed loan of CHF 100’000 from the Foundation for Technological Innovation (FIT) and secured its first VC investment from Urban Us, a leading early stage investor for start-ups upgrading cities for climate change. In addition, the cleantech start-up was selected to join the related start-up accelerator URBAN-X, by MINI and Urban Us within an intensive five-month program of product and business development.
“The funding comes at a great time, so we can respond to rapidly growing customer demand. Customers have an urgent need to quickly design more optimal energy solutions for their own customers, who are demanding rapid, cost-effective and timely responses to reducing emissions”, explains Sébastien Cajot, CEO of Urbio. “In addition, seasoned “climate-tech” experts in engineering, design and business from URBAN-X will work closely with us to co-develop our product and market strategy. These collaborations represent a major step towards realizing our vision of sustainable and carbon-free cities.”