Focus on exporters

"S-GE opens a great network and possible contacts to local market stakeholders", an exchange with the Swiss cleantech company depsys

depsys is a Swiss-based company with an international reach, accelerating its international footprint. In an interview with Gordon Fairley, Sales & Business Development Leader at depsys, talks about depsys' vision and and their expeirence working with S-GE for supporting their internationalisation strategy. 

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Founded in 2012, based in Puidoux, near Lausanne, depsys works with electricity distribution system operators (DSO) in various ways. In particular, it enables them to better understand and control their networks by providing them with valuable data, via its intelligent technological platform GridEye, designed and developed in Switzerland. In addition to optimising current networks, depsys helps distributors to adapt and move more easily towards the energy transition, and to build a sustainable future more quickly.

As a recognised leader of innovation in an energy market undergoing a sustainable transition, depsys has won numerous technological and economic distinctions, and has been awarded contracts with more than 40 network operators around the world. It counts major players among its stakeholders, like BNP Paribas, SET Ventures and Statkraft Ventures, a financially focused early-stage investor backed by Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy.  

What are the most important export markets and opportunities for your company? And why? 

The challenge depsys helps solve is a universal one: for our world to decarbonise fast enough we need to increase electrification using clean, renewable energies. This puts massive pressure on the electricity grid, which was never built – anywhere in the world – to be able to handle the unpredictable and bidirectional flows linked to renewable energies. If our underlying electricity infrastructure doesn’t become smart, then we won’t be able to reach our collective decarbonisation goals.

Depsys offers a technology solution to help the utilities responsible for managing the electricity infrastructure to know what is going on at all times in their grid, and to anticipate likely problems for preventive resolution.
Our solution, called GridEye, is therefore relevant across the globe. Today, we focus mainly on the European market, where the electricity grid infrastructure is often old and extensively used. We also focus on a few countries in South East Asia, challenged with managing an electricity grid in densely populated megacities. And tomorrow we will address North America which is undertaking massive infrastructure renewal and digitalisation projects.

What help can S-GE give to companies to help them become more circular in their international business? 

On the collaboration side (with S-GE), given similar problems for grid operators around the world, we can apply a similar message from S-GE to multiple stakeholders across multiple countries. We also avoid multiplying meetings/trips etc and are more efficient, with a lower Co2 footprint too. S-GE also stimulates exchanges between stakeholders which can lead to partnerships, ecosystems etc generating potential synergies for developing common proposals/solutions

From the depsys side, the hardware part of our technology solution – produced in Switzerland – is a multi-purpose device which means that it will satisfy the grid operators needs for many years to come and is evolutive as there is no need to replace and discard. Moreover using our technology avoids some grid reinforcement for example, copper is costly and not ecologically efficient. Calculations based on GridEye show that by digitalising the grid, instead of reinforcing it systematically, we can save up to 65% Co2 emissions and be 700 times cheaper.

What surprise have you already encountered in working internationally?

In working with countries outside Switzerland we have found great interest to collaborate amongst both customers and partners. They share common goals associated with the energy transition and net zero, albeit with a unique country by country situation.  This variety of each local challenge makes the work incredibly interesting and rewarding from large rural networks threatened by winter storms to dense urban networks who are facing huge growth in EV charging. Our customers are eager to gain from the experience of the others, especially in the fast-growing area of digitalisation. Digitalisation is also bringing a lot of new skills into the network companies such as data scientist and IT/OT specialists,  so while it is an industry with a long history, it is also an industry in transformation, which leads to a lot of very positive collaboration.

More challenging points: international business development- finding the right contacts/ potential partners, understanding the local priorities or with Implementation/delivery projects: language in general for example in Asia- relying on translators, even more complicated when it’s about understanding the regulatory framework. 

How do you see collaboration with organizations like S-GE, why is it worthwile?

S-GE opens a great network and possible contacts to local market stakeholders, this supports our business development activities. Through events or one to one contacts, mainly online but potentially also physical, we can quickly develop a network. These contacts can for instance be beneficial to help us challenging our ideas/plans/intentions for a market, based on the local realities. Another aspect S-GE provides is the recognition of depsys' origins in Switzerland, and all the positive assets coming from this (image, trust, reliability..). This gives us an indirect endorsement as a Swiss enterprise."

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