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A European PropTech View, with Johannes Fütterer, aedifion

7.9.21

Aedifion
Welcome back to ‘A European PropTech View, by Dilan Omari-Clark’ our Q&A focused on European PropTech’s.

 

This week we speak to Johannes Fütterer, founder and CEO of aedifion.

 

aedifion develops tools for the cloud-based processing of operating data from building automation systems. Buildings account for 40 % of the energy consumption in industrialized countries, whereby 70 % of the existing Building Automation Technology (BAT) operates insufficiently. Data-driven optimization of BAT can be a fast and resource-efficient method generating high impact. Tools to evaluate data and recommend suitable actions use machine learning technology and expert knowledge and empower stakeholders to enhance buildings’ performance. A transparently operated built environment is possible and aedifion develop a cloud-based IoT-tool for everyone involved.

 

The company was founded in 2017 and is based in Cologne, Germany.

How did you find yourself working in the PropTech sector?

aedifion was founded based on a research project that had been working on the modernization and digitalization of building automation for many years beforehand. We ourselves had already conducted research in this area for more than ten years before founding the company and thus had the relevant theoretical background knowledge to create a market offering that represented a research-based, innovative solution for the sector. Ultimately, after the idea of making a cloud platform market-ready, things moved very quickly and productisation was an important next step. With the support of the EXIST research transfer (a German high-tech-startup-grant), we were able to take off in principle immediately after our comprehensive application and business plan and have since been on the German PropTech market, trying to make the sector aware of the important steps of digitalization.

 

You founded aedifion in 2017, tell us about how it has changed and developed over time?

Exactly, aedifion was founded in 2017 as a spin-off of RWTH Aachen University with the help of the EXIST research transfer program. From the beginning, it was important to us that we combine the state of the art in information science and engineering to support the digital transformation of the real estate industry. Started as a team of four, we are now over 25 team members who take care of the secure operation of our cloud platform, the further development of our services, and many other services. Our product has also evolved: Focused primarily on connectivity and data availability at the beginning, we are proud to say that we can now map the entire process from data collection in the building to automated optimization with our products.

 

We also notice that the topics we have been working towards since 2017 are slowly but surely catching on in the industry. There is a lot of talk about sustainability and digitalization in existing and new buildings, but the important step of implementation is still sometimes missing.

 

So, in addition to selling our cloud platform, the focus remains on education and raising awareness to make the industry aware of the innovative solutions offered by the PropTech market.

 

Why do you feel it is so important for the Real Estate sector to become more sustainable? 

The fact that buildings are responsible for a large amount of energy consumption is not new, sustainability is discussed in many ways, and there are innovative solutions on the market that can contribute to solving the sustainability challenge of buildings. Existing buildings are important levers in terms of sustainability. There is a lot of potential that can be monitored, analyzed, and leveraged with digital solutions. We can therefore optimize the entire building operation simply and without high investments and make it more sustainable. In addition to energy consumption and CO2 emissions, this also reduces operating costs and is a benefit for all stakeholders.

 

Briefly outline how your cloud platform transforms building technology and positively impacts on decreasing energy consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.

With the aedifion cloud platform, our customers have all the necessary levers in hand to save energy, decarbonize the building and achieve ESG goals faster. For this, it is necessary to have an accurate insight into consumption and operational data. With the cloud platform, we can provide this comprehensive data availability and additionally integrate third-party systems via open interfaces.

 

Our artificial intelligence then structures and analyzes this data on an ongoing basis and, based on this data, issues recommendations for action for optimization that save both energy and CO2. With our tool for AI-based controlled plants, these optimizations can then be automated and self-learning, so that the optimal operation is always run.

aedifion product

Future of PropTech, what is the key focus for your business within the sector?

In the future, it will become even more important for PropTechs to work together: Collaboration instead of going it alone. Many PropTechs offer exciting solutions that focus on a core problem, so our goal with our cloud platform is to provide a tool that brings together and centralizes all the individual solutions in the building. We offer an open-interface application so that, starting from building automation systems, other systems and services can easily integrate. This means that owners, facility managers and asset managers have only one point of contact to evaluate data and view the condition of the building and its systems. We are convinced that only through collaborative cooperation between all systems can the building become a true smart building.

 

What is a frequently asked question you get about your product?

Starting from building automation, our product integrates all relevant subsystem in a building, structures it, analyzes it to generate recommendation for actions and finally optimizes the operation autonomously. Along this process, several questions arise frequently.

  • How is connectivity realized? – We can connect to all standard protocols such as BACnet, Modbus, OPC, etc. occurring in technical building equipment.
  • How is it possible to structure data semi-automatically? – By using real AI algorithms, so called time series classification with an intelligent human-in-the-loop-process.
  • How can you derive so many recommendations for actions and find malfunctions in buildings? – Based on a comprehensive knowledge and fault pattern databased combined with intelligent algorithms.
  • What is your AI-based control approach based upon? On a self-learning, adaptive model-predictive-control (MPC) framework.

 

Further questions arise on how to ship costs to tenants (“Umlagefähigkeit”), if our solution is  GDPR compliant, and if we take over operator responsibilities for our cloud-based control.

 

Are there any recent successes for aedifion that you want to mention?

We are moving from a small PropTech to an established market player. The name aedifion and the cloud platform are increasingly well known in the market, and this will continue to be the biggest driver for us to become better known with our platform and the resulting use cases and opportunities. This has recently been noticed by several large asset management companies as well as various OEMs in this area, who have recently started working with us. This makes us proud and shows that we are on the right track.

 

With our latest tool, aedifion.controls, we now cover the entire process of data collection, data analysis, optimization recommendations and automated AI-based control and can thus offer our customers a holistic solution on the way to more sustainable buildings.

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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