We’re looking for disruptive start-ups to help create the energy industry of the future
Barcelona, February 2019. Thousands of start-up founders and entrepreneurs have gathered at the 4YFN conference at Mobile World Capital Barcelona (MWCB) to showcase their products and ideas before attendees from around the world. While the majority of the start-ups are offering projects oriented towards the mass market, there is another group of entrepreneurs who’ve come to bring their disruptive ideas and innovative solutions to an entirely different market: industrial reliability and maintenance operations. In the process, they’re helping to define the future of the energy industry.
They are joined by specialists from Repsol’s business units, Digitalization program and Corporate Venturing program, and together they working in a spirit of open innovation to bring these novel solutions to Repsol’s facilities around the world.
“There is great opportunity for digital companies with an industrial focus,” says Juan Lorenzo Boix, Repsol’s Director of Reliability and Maintenance and one of the people responsible for identifying and developing innovative solutions in that field.
“Whether it’s generating new data-centric reliability models, collecting data via sensors and iIoT technology or using artificial intelligence or drones for inspections, any start-up with an interesting project that creates value can find a place at Repsol “, he affirms.
A guiding hand through a complex environment
Start-ups seeking to enter the energy industry must adapt to a complex regulatory environment governed by industry-specific regulations, ATEX regulations, environmental requirements and international legislation. To facilitate their entry, the start-ups are being guided by Repsol professionals who share their belief in open innovation and understand the workings of the industry and its regulatory environment.
According to Juan Lorenzo, “the start-ups with which we collaborate receive two main helping hands: firstly, professionals who are at the top of their fields in big data, advanced analytics and digital experimentation. Secondly, people from the business side that have clear ideas of how to capture value and how to use these technologies to improve operations. To make this work, we’ve aligned the whole company with our ethos of Digital Transformation, provided both economic and technical resources and streamlined the relationship between the digital program and our business units.”
Lorenzo goes on to state that, “thanks to our work in Repsol Corporate Venturing, we have created an agile process to connect with these start-ups and help them understand the needs of the energy industry, adapt to our requirements and certifications — this is essential if we want to have a robust and scalable product — develop pilot projects and, finally, receive the necessary resources to grow alongside us.”
Examples of open innovation
There are many start-ups that have benefited from this collaboration. Rocsole, which also received funding from Repsol Corporate Venturing, is one of them. This start-up develops systems that use electrical tomography to monitor and visualize the flow of oil and gas through pipelines in real time, a solution that guarantees higher safety as well as a quality end product.
There are even more examples from the field of sensors, where we’re collaborating with start-ups to create solutions for rapid data collection in large industrial complexes, an area with huge business potential. The use of sensors and iIoT to monitor installations and upload data to the cloud where it can be analyzed and used to create models for reliability and maintenance operation is a crucial step in the transition to Industry 4.0.
Becoming a truly data-driven company is a key strategic step in our digitalization process, which is why we’re designing integral platforms that support our professionals and help them to have a more global vision of their activities, which in turn helps them make better and safer decisions in their day to day. Start-ups participating in the program have the unique opportunity be pioneers in the use big data in the energy industry.
There are more examples of collaboration between Repsol Corporate Venturing and start-ups in other areas, such as Ample in the area of advanced mobility and electric cars, Wattio in home automation or Recreus in 3D printing, among others.
Our fund, which aims to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies and business models, will allocate more than 85 million euros over a two year period to start-ups offering solutions in one of six key areas: energy transition, advanced mobility, new materials, circular economy, exploration and production and operations reliability.
New Challenge: Preventing corrosion in Repsol facilities
One of the great challenges in the area of reliability and maintenance is to predict and prevent internal and external corrosion of both equipment and the thousands of kilometers of pipelines at Repsol’s international facilities. To achieve this goal, the company has launched an “open challenge” (link) to start-ups around the world.
For Juan Lorenzo, “one of the areas that we’re currently focused on is finding innovative solutions that detect corrosion at our facilities. In any industry, corrosion amounts to tens of millions of euros in both supervision operations as well as maintenance operations. These operations involve complete or partial production stops and require precise planning, so we need to get to a place where we have zero unpredicted failures. “
Site safety, environmental protection, accident prevention and energy efficiency in operations are some of the direct benefits of a solid reliability and maintenance strategy. Working with the world’s most innovative companies is helping this area to achieve the highest safety standards in the industry.
If you would like to take part in this challenge, or if you have a disruptive idea that you think will help create the energy industry of the future, we invite you to learn more about Repsol Corporate Venturing.
Learn more about #RepsolDigital on Linkedin.