METRON, a French startup founded to reduce energy costs and carbon footprint in industrial facilities, partnered in 2019 and 2020 with NTT DOCOMO Ventures and NTT Facilities, two companies of NTT Group, main telecommunication group in Japan. Together, they aim at using artificial intelligence and big data to improve energy efficiency in Japanese industries.
Clean tech expert METRON was founded in Paris in 2013 to help reduce energy costs and carbon footprint in industrial facilities. The French start-up imagined and developed a solution combining a technology based on artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning, with digitized human expertise
Through collecting data and digitizing factory assets, METRON’s platform detects abnormal energy behaviours, identifies factors affecting consumption and recommends real-time energy efficiency actions that can help industries of all sectors lower their energy consumption. METRON’s solutions have been introduced in industries such as automotive, steel manufacturing, chemicals, glass, and foodstuffs.
METRON now counts more than 130 collaborators worldwide and is recognized as a global game changer by key leaders from the energy sector, being highlighted in various international rankings such as the San Francisco based Clean Tech 100 in 2020. METRON established an office in Japan in March 2020.
NTT Group is the main telecommunication group in Japan. It includes mobile operator NTT Docomo, regional operators NTT East and NTT West (inherited from the former national public company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, privatized in 1985), as well as other specialized companies such as NTT Finance, NTT Urban Solutions or NTT Electronics. The group employs more than 300000 people worldwide.
NTT DOCOMO Ventures is NTT Group’s gateway for the startup and venture community. It focuses on innovation in services, technology and processes, and invests in startups in Japan and abroad, aiming at using information and communication technology to add value in industries such as medicine, education, agriculture and environment.
NTT Facilities is an engineering and consulting firm, established in 1992 from the former architecture and engineering department of NTT. It offers services in areas such as green IT buildings, solar power system solutions, business continuity solutions, data center construction and operations, and building management. Besides Japan, NTT Facilities has offices in Hong-Kong, Indonesia and Europe.
Increasing energy efficiency is an essential component of climate policies in Europe and Japan: both the EU and Japan aim at a minimum of 30% better energy efficiency by 2030. This requires efforts in all sectors, and opens new business opportunities for energy efficiency service providers.
While METRON was developing and expanding its offer in Europe and other parts of the world, in Japan, NTT Facilities was aiming at diversifying its business with an advanced energy management solution… but could not find it in Japan. The two companies finally met in 2017: “After travelling to many countries and assisting many events, I found METRON at the European Utility Week in Amsterdam”, says Kentaro Ono, head of NTT Facilities European office.
While the traditional approach of improving energy efficiency in the industry was based on changing the machines, digitalization allows software-based solutions. METRON creates a digital twin of a factory to understand how machines are being used, and how to optimize them. This new approach seduced NTT Facilities.
After a 2-year discussion, NTT DoCoMo Ventures invested in METRON in 2019, with the aim of introducing the French startup’s solutions on the Japanese market, while strengthening NTT Facilities' building management business through energy efficiency optimization services for industrial sites.
“In Japan, decentralization and distribution is a challenge, maybe more important than in any other country. METRON is willing to optimize the full supply chain of energy with its AI platform”, said Vincent Sciandra, CEO of METRON.
This partnership is an opportunity for both sides to share their experience and complementary know-how: the challenge was to adapt the solution to the Japanese market and Japanese business culture, instead of replicating what was done in France and other countries. This example also illustrates how major Japanese companies and innovative European startups can bring together a meaningful contribution to climate action and energy transition.
METRON and NTT Facilities are now reaching out to industrials in Japan to help them better manage their energy. Together, the French startup and the Japanese firm will support the efforts of Japanese industries to reduce their emissions, contributing to achieving the new national target of carbon neutrality by 2050 and the global goals of the Paris Agreement.
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