Cities of the future should be greener, more efficient and more technologically advanced. In short: smarter. The issue is where and how to start, assuming that smart cities are not going to come straight from the drawing board, but will instead be created using what already exists. This line of thinking is also followed by eluminocity, which is why the company is concentrating on something you seem to find on every corner: streetlights. The Munich-based startup asks the question: how can streetlamps become more intelligent and effective?
Let’s start by focusing on intelligence. The magic word here is sensor technology. If you equip streetlights with various sensors, they can be used to gather a multitude of important “smart city data.” The best example: parking spot sensors for automatic parking space monitoring. Or take environmental sensors, which can be used to constantly measure environmental conditions such as emissions and pollutants or noise pollution. With the Smart City Platform module, eluminocity has developed an option that allows streetlights to do just that. The module can be mounted to existing streetlights, which makes it unnecessary to install new measurement stations. Pilot projects are currently under way in Singapore and Hong Kong.
And how can streetlights become more effective? By supplying not only light, but also electricity. Using eluminocity’s charge module can turn a “normal” streetlight into a charging station for electric cars. The Munich startup manages to do so by means of retrofitting instead of new installations, and it is this approach that differentiates the company from its market competitors. Filling up on the side of the road is therefore no longer a vision for the future. And just how is business going in this sector? Sebastian Jagsch, eluminocity founder and CEO, commented:
“We have secured a large project with ReachNow in Seattle in the US. The project involves the construction of 20 charging islands with several solutions for charging electric cars. In addition to just the quantity sold, project business has gained in importance.”
Strategic partners and investors
The Munich startup has developed significantly since its founding in 2014. And it has done so independently so far, since eluminocity finances itself through project and partner orders. The Munich startup had strong strategic partners on board from the very beginning. Sebastian Jagsch explained:
“After implementing the transnational rollout of charging stations, both detached and mounted on lamp posts, with our strategic partner BMW, we then phased in the subject of smart street lighting and motion sensors. We were able to get Infineon on board for developing sensors, and they also cooperatively support us with marketing.”
These strategic partners have just recently been complemented by the addition of two strategic investors thanks to eluminocity winning over Trilux and innogy in its first round of financing. And that puts the company in a good position. Trilux, the German market leader in technical lighting, and the energy company innogy are able to supply capital to advance technological development and expand international sales. Moreover, the companies provide access that opens doors to the global smart city market.
Eluminocity expanded beyond the German market long ago. In addition to undertaking major projects in the USA and Asia, the Munich startup has since opened an office in Denver. The plan is for the teams in Munich — which currently includes 30 employees — and also in Denver to grow even further with the fresh capital:
“It was simply necessary to have financial advances to obtain excellent developers and establish a project and sales team. That is also why we decided to conduct a round of financing and to specifically look for strategic investors,”
revealed Robert Lee, eluminocity’s CFO.
Mapping a city’s heartbeat
In Munich’s urban areas, eluminocity’s charging stations have been being tested since last summer. Within the framework of a joint initiative from the city of Munich, Munich City Utilities (Stadtwerke München – SWM), the BMW Group and eluminocity, streetlights were equipped with a charging station module in four locations in the Schwabing and Maxvorstadt districts. The power consumed during a charging process is billed using the charging network “BMW i ChargeNow” or the “Ladenetz” network of the utility company. Mayor Dieter Reiter views the installations as a further step for the city of Munich becoming a smart city.
So what’s next for eluminocity? What other functions might a streetlight be able to assume in the future?
Sebastian Jagsch remarked:
“Based on our vision, the streetlight of the future will be able to map the heartbeat of a city. That means intelligent streetlights will not only play a role in managing smoother traffic, but they also might be able to foresee an approaching accident by analyzing sequences of sound.
Because consumption of resources and pollution are currently the biggest challenges faced by cities, we have chosen to concentrate on these important application scenarios first.”