As a platform for the smart energy community, European Utility Week will be showcasing even more innovation this year.
According to Paddy Young, Event Director of European Utility Week at Synergy Events, the focus on innovation is essential if the energy sector is to overcome new challenges and attain their goals.
He explains, “We are taking a holistic approach. We want to stimulate and showcase young talent and startups in the energy sector. The aim is to bring innovation and qualified people to the table so that ideas can be taken forward. Without this approach, many innovations may not see the light of day.”
Startups are certainly seeing the value in attending the event. The number of startups has grown from 20 to 50 since last year and the event organiser is aiming to attract a total of 100 startups to next year’s event. There is a dedicated pavilion on the Innovation Hub where 50 of this year’s startups will be able to showcase their solutions and compete for first place in the Initiate Awards.
Mr Young says: “The startup programme has taken on a life of its own. We realise that innovation in essence comes from startup’s so we have created a platform from which they can search for investment and potential partners. We want to give them the opportunity to really connect with major roleplayers and get their projects up and running. Once investors see that a project is scalable, it’s easier to attract further investment.”
The Young talent programme also forms part of the Innovation Hub. This programme enables more universities, research institutes and younger people to connect and discuss learnings. “This networking is important since these young talents are indeed the future. The introduction of young talent at European Utility Week is beneficial for everyone since young talents get to learn from incumbents’ wealth of knowledge and experience while young talents point to new ways of thinking and suggest innovative channels.” Fresh from the outside in”, as European Utility Week puts it.
Another major focus point in the industry is Internet of Things (IoT). In response to this growing interest, the event will have an IoT zone where utilities can learn what benefits IoT can offer utilities today. Synergy is working closely alongside GMSA, an enabler of IoT, in order to understand what IoT means for the sector.
Strategic focus versus practical implementation
Synergy prides itself in organising a very strategically-strong conference. In order to understand their role as an event organiser for the energy sector, the Synergy team spends a lot of time with sector roleplayers in an attempt to cater for a range of expectations at the event.
One way in which to get the sector to share learnings is through the hub sessions where over 150 current projects will be discussed and examined at this year’s event. Synergy spends a lot of time researching the Hub Sessions in order to showcase the best cases.
“There’s lots of cross border multi border stakeholder projects underway and we want to create a programme that will help utilities and other stakeholders to look at what’s working and what’s not. The aim is to facilitate the sharing of best practices.”
He stresses the importance of the event’s ability to reach the whole chain from c level to project managers within individual projects and asset management. “It’s important that we are creating points of interest for every level within the sector.”
While there are a number of presentations, there are also panel discussions that have been designed to get delegates to actively participate. The event will also be host to 460 exhibitors, showcasing various products and service solutions.
European Energy Union at the event
There are many energy projects being carried out across Europe and with the European Energy Union representatives attending this year’s event, it will be interesting to hear what difference the Union is making on a European level.
The event will specifically highlight projects that are attracting cross border cooperation that rival efficiencies and reduce costs. Here, the super grid aspect will be especially relevant.
Mr Young points to the project Flexiciency as a good example. The four year project, launched in early 2015 and part-funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020, involves cross-border development and a number of utilities. “It is projects like these that we want to showcase at the event.”
Industry awards and networking
For the first time, the event will be hosting an Industry Awards ceremony for those who have shown outstanding commitment and accomplishments to a sustainable utility industry.
Taking place on the 4th November in Vienna, the ceremony, which will avoid the monotony of long drawn out speeches, will be a perfect opportunity for attendees to celebrate their peers’ achievements. “The ceremony offers attendees the perfect opportunity to relax amongst the best from the utilities, solution providers and industry leaders who have been responsible for pioneering new frontiers, pushing boundaries, inspiring others and achieving growth in turbulent and challenging markets.”
He adds, “Networking is our focus and we don’t want staged ceremonies where you are stuck at a table. The aim is to create something that has value for the winner and nominees. Rubbing shoulders with peers is what the focus should be.”
Mr Young points out that European Utility Week will be on tour. He explains, “While Austria is very proactive on a utility and city level in the way that they are hosting the event, we will be ‘touring’. The aim of this is to encourage cross border discussions.”
Be sure to visit the Engerati team at the live studio at European Utility Week where we will be interviewing a number of key industry roleplayers.