Q&A with Head of Digital Innovation at EDF Energy


Tell us why you are so passionate about startups / The Initiate! Programme and its relevance to the industry

“I am truly passionate about startups in the energy industry for two reasons.

“First, launching a startup today is a lot easier than it was 15 years ago. The “On Demand” economy has transformed the “innovation” industry. You can hire a developer or a graphic designer on a daily basis through dedicated sites such as Upwork and you can launch great websites or leverage reliable data centres in a matter of minutes. Now, everything is “as a service” so a lot more people are taking the risk and deciding to launch startups.

Second, the energy industry is becoming a data-heavy industry. Five years ago, the industry was data starved. For most householders we only had two meter readings that were six to 12 months apart but now we have eight seconds electric data, 30 minute gas readings, 10 minute heating set points, indoor temperature, weather data, heating schedules and boiler usage. This abundance of data means that startups can come and create new services that would not have been thought of before.”

According to you, tell us which startups you think we should keep an eye on now and in the coming years and why?

“There are two topics which I’m particularly interested to see developments in from startups. First, the virtual assistant/artificial intelligence could transform the customer experience if the proper AI/virtual assistant engine were deployed by utilities.

“Second, block chain mechanism applied to the energy markets or micro grids is also an area I’m watching and I’m looking forward to seeing more startups innovating in this space.”

If you could give one piece of advice to a startup what would that be and why?

“Trial your prototype as quickly as possible. Cheap experiments are worth a lot more than an untested great idea. So test your product, pivot, test again and come and see us!”

Q&A with Charles Delalonde, Head of Digital Innovation at EDF Energy’s R&D UK Centre