As Spain misses out on huge profits every year due to wind turbine failures, industrial engineer Jordi Cusidó saw an opportunity to develop a high-tech product able to increase wind farms efficiency.
In 2013, he co-founded Smartive, a Spanish start-up developing digital platforms to control, monitor and diagnose wind turbines. With the help of the Enterprise Europe Network, Smartive scaled up and is now helping major power companies keep their wind turbines functioning across the world.
After completing a PhD in electronics and studying how mechanical machines perform, Jordi was pondering his next step when a Danish investor encouraged him to take a closer look at the wind power industry.
Spain misses out on some EUR 200 million every year due to wind turbine failures. Loses reach EUR 700 million across Europe and EUR 2.9 billion worldwide.
"Based on my PhD thesis results, I wanted to create a product to benefit both the industry and society. I thought I could take advantage of cloud computing, IoT (The Internet of Things) and big data to develop a software to improve wind farms productivity," said Jordi, Smartive’s CEO.
The technology Smartive is using tracks wind turbines performance to detect flaws at an early stage. This helps wind farms to avoid failures and improve their maintenance operations accordingly.
As each customer and wind turbine is different, Smartive developed a range of web platforms that can be adapted to specific projects and clients’ needs.
Looking to scale up and expand its market share, Jordi turned to his local member of the Enterprise Europe Network, the world's largest support network for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs ) with international ambitions.
Acció, a Spanish Network member in Barcelona, helped Smartive put together an outstanding SME Instrument proposal while introducing the company to business coaches.
The SME Instrument is the EU research and innovation programme helping innovative small firms with high growth potential.
"Smartive was very good technically. But after a needs analysis, we concluded they should improve on the market side. They needed to identify their clients and improve their business model. This is where the business coach was also able to help," recalled David Rovirosa from Acció.
Smartive had successfully applied for the EU’s SME Instrument phase 1 and Acció helped the start-up throughout phase 2. The company submitted a strong proposal and was awarded a EUR 878 000 grant – helping Smartive to combine IoT and cloud computing technologies to further advance their products. Moreover, the SME was granted 12 days of free business coaching services.
A business coach introduced by Acció provided market research support, helping the SME reach out to new clients. Today, Smartive provides services to large Spanish enterprises such as Endesa and Gas Natural.
"The Network helped us a lot. Since it is a network they used their connections in other countries like Slovenia and Scotland to help us. They also helped us choose a business mentor who advised us on how to approach certain markets and find international partners," Jordi stressed.
Landing major clients in Spain, Smartive is now looking far beyond. The SME is starting to work with big clients in Germany and Italy, too. Such an impressive client list is expected to help increase the company’s annual turnover from EUR 500 000 to EUR 5 million in 2019.
"As we work with online platforms people can access our products worldwide. Our platforms are fully active in European countries and we have wind farms using our technology in Italy, Bulgaria, Denmark and Uruguay so far," said Jordi.