TPC definition and added value for companies

Technology Provider Clusters (TPC)

Could you imagine a market scenario where complementary technologies enrich a single product, relying on an open and accessible protocol?

This is actually one of the main challenges that the StepUP project is pursuing. But let’s take it one step at a time.

The StepUP project accounts among its several aims the objective of making the building renovation process more attractive and more reliable. Also, it has the ambition of accelerating the renovation market through the adoption of an innovative set of products and of a scalable and solid methodology. A fundamental feature of the project that enables the achievement of these ambitious objectives is the Open Plug&Play protocol: this will give the chance to technology providers to conform to relevant standards at EU level but, most importantly, to the technical “boundaries” of the innovative products developed in the framework of the project.

This means that different actors working in the construction/renovation value chain will potentially be able to openly access the results emerging from the project – specifically the Plug&Play Panel and the SmartHeat system – by integrating their technologies simply conforming to the protocol. This framework is valid for any technology able to be interoperable and intercompatible with the StepUP findings: from high-efficient windows to blind and shutters, from mechanical ventilation to PV panels, from IoT smart systems to heating systems.

Of course, this will generate a heterogeneous environment across the value chain, composed of companies and stakeholders belonging to potentially extremely different areas. This is why preliminary clustering activities are required, since the early stage of the StepUP project development. This approach entails not only the practical aspect of handling consistent and homogeneous data, but above all the possibility of collecting productive feedback on the methodology and the P&P protocol developed in StepUP.

Tecnhology Provider Clusters (TPC) 

These clusters of third party technology producers will constitute the so called Technology Provider Clusters (TPC) and will be engaged for actively contributing in the project implementation: indeed, the main objective of the TPCs is to ensure that the P&P protocol is sufficiently flexible to allow the co-integration of their technologies with the StepUP products and, at the same time, that it fits with the specificities of the design and production process of their products.   

Looking more in depth into the concept of the TPC, two things must be clear:

  • First, that the more clusters are created, the more accurate and inclusive will be the feedback collected from the technology providers for the fine-tuning of the P&P protocol;
  • Second, that the more representative of the renovation value chain the TPC are, the wider impact the StepUP project will potentially be able to express on the real market.

But how can this approach and open framework accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient solutions?

Imagine that the TPC members are actively engaged across the entire duration of the project: this means that on one hand the project implementation will benefit of a direct involvement of market-oriented key stakeholders, steering the protocol definition with a practical perspective; on the other hand, that the diverse technology providers involved will act as pioneers of the technology integrations to be taken as a reference by other potential stakeholders willing to enter or break through the renovation market, integrating their technology into turnkey solutions across the European market. In this perspective, having a handy practical example, all the potential technology integrators will benefit from the positive experience of the TPCs, accelerating the process of accessing energy efficient solutions and increasing exponentially the visibility of an innovative product at the eyes of the renovation value chain and of all the potential stakeholders (tenants, building owners, citizens).

The final outcome of the TPCs, within the framework of the StepUP project, is to create new working cooperation grouping of producers, relying on a common and agreed protocol.

Tecnhology Provider Clusters (TPC)

Now, it is clear why the Technology Provider Clusters (TPC) are good for the StepUP implementation and for the market uptake of the technical solutions developed within the project framework. However, it is legitimate that the TPC members will seek for revenues in being part of such working groups. Therefore, three levels of “returns” have been identified:

  1. The opportunity of entering a European network of companies and key players in the renovation market and in the energy-efficient solutions field, providing also a remarkable return in terms of visibility.
  2. The opportunity of being an active part in the development of an innovative project and of accessing a promising ground-breaking technology from a privileged perspective.
  3. The opportunity of getting specific takeaways thanks to the participation of experts of different fields in the recurrent TPC workshops.

These “returns” will hopefully make the TPCs attractive for technology providers, who will play a fundamental role in the validation of the open protocol and of the StepUP methodology. The ambition of the TPC and, in general, of the StepUP project is to involve and engage a pool of companies able to generate a remarkable impact on the project development and on the market uptake of the project, ranging from the large technology producers to innovative SMEs. This approach will result in a win-win proposition: the former will be able to provide their customers with the direct access to a large set of innovative solutions; the latter will be able to access international markets with their high-tech solutions.

This inspiring ecosystem could potentially generate further opportunities of innovation in the renovation market.

The Technology Provider Clusters (TPC) approach will be concretely demonstrated and validated in the framework of the project by initially establishing two TPC “poles”, one in Spain and one in Italy. These two local experiences will be scaled up and leveraged to establish a roadmap to replicate the TPC schema in other countries. The first workshop of the TPC was held in September 2020, both in Italy and in Spain: the involved companies showed from the very beginning their commitment and actively contributed to the success of the meeting. The vision and the strategy of the TPC was agreed and these first engagements showed the tremendous potential of the initiative. Stay tuned for further updates!  

Authors

Michele Scotton – Project Manager, UniSMART – Fondazione Università degli Studi di Padova

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