Autodesk Gifting The Singapore Green Industry
update on 2011-12-19
IAA spoke with the global head of GreenTech for Autodesk, at the 2011 Clean Energy Expo, about the company’s initiative to supply their software package to entrepreneurial green technology companies together with Oliver Risse, the MD for Greenlot, a green technology startup focused on the electrification of vehicles. By Mark Johnston
IAA: What are some of the applications available in your software?
Susan Gladwin (SG): One of the tools we enable is the ability to look at a building’s footprint. Fourty percent of global energy use is in buildings. In the tools that are available, conceptual energy analysis allows optimisation in efficiency and performance before a building is built, which is really important.
We see ourselves as a living lab in our facilities because we are able to test and use our own software to optimise energy usage.
IAA: What are the important questions people need to ask in manufacturing concerning being green?
SG: In manufacturing, the important questions people need and want to answer are things like where are the materials I am using coming from, what is the impact of sourcing them, how efficient is the thing that I am making, how long will it last and if it is recyclable.
In addition to the tools we would do a lot of education programs to help people understand the principles behind sustainability. One of the notable ones is the Autodesk sustainability workshop. We have got some building information materials workshops, we are sponsoring sustainable design competition to inspire and support students.
IAA: Can you tell me more about the sustainability workshop?
SG: The sustainability workshop is something we created earlier in 2011. It is a series of short videos that talk about system thinking, materials selection, followed by product analysis. The idea is that it complements the tools and a lot of today’s curriculum, which do not include concepts like these. As it is emerging, we created the curriculum so that people can embed that into their academic programs. We are targeting both facility and students, we also find that professionals are really interested in these too.
IAA: Please explain in detail the Autodesk CleanTech Partner Program?
SG: We have a commitment to getting clean tech entrepreneurs to get their products to market faster because we see these as really important solutions to environmental problems, ones that we ourselves are not in business of creating. Our CEO is even personally behind this, it was really to some degree his idea to create this program called the Autodesk CleanTech Partner Program.
The idea is that we are giving digital prototyping software to the cleantech innovators so that they can visualise, analyse and simulate their solutions virtually before they create a physical product.
IAA: What are the conditions for joining the Autodesk CeanTech Partner Program?
SG: It is really simple. You go to the wedsite, fill out a short form that gives your contact information. We then contact you, understand your needs, qualify that you are in the business of cleantech and that you are making something that can actually benefit from this software.
IAA: Is the program only applicable to startups?
SG: It is largely focused on emerging companies. It is not to say we would entirely discount more established companies, but they do not necessarily need this discount, but we do work with them. The main focus is entrepreneurs.
Some example are Tesla, which is not the smallest startup in the world, but still a company that we would want to support and so we are supporting them. Other examples are ATP Waters making water purifications treatments. USS solar who are making a helius tab that helps the solar panel adjust to where the sun is. Timber Tower is based in Germany, making very tall wind turbines using wood because they found that it flexes better at certain heights than steel.
We have hundreds of companies, we started the program in July 2009 in North America, Israel, Japan, and we are now launching in Singapore.
The idea is that the company receives up to US$250,000 worth of software for only US$50.
IAA: Why did you pick Singapore?
SG: Singapore is a hub of cleantech incubation and testbed and given the investment and commitment Singapore is making to CleanTech it seemed like a great fit because it is nurturing the kind of companies we want to attract. Also, Singapore views itself as a living lab and really wants to grow the industry. There is plenty of innovation happening in Singapore and plenty of entrepreneurship that we want to support.
The other thing about Singapore is that it is really a bridge for pan Asia-Pacific activity. So, by having a presence here we are able to make a lot of awareness in the region.
Greenlots is our first Singapore GreenTech partner.
IAA: Tell me about your company, Greenlots?
Oliver Risse (Greenlots): We started this business three years ago in Singapore with the help of the Economic Development Board and explain to them the opportunity of electrification of transportation. At that time there were not many electric cars available, so we brought in vehicles here and talked a lot initially about electrification but it was obviously very clear that it is not a car maker’s place here in Singapore, where its neighbours are doing much better. We looked at every car, truck, boat, bicycle in an intelligent charging infrastructure, we did this en masse. This is what we developed in over a year and it took us literally one year to develop the proof of concept. We have hardware and software working in realtime and together, and since last year, 2010, we are commercialising this technology now internationally. It is literally a role model, locally developed internationally sold.
Obviously we would like to support the local market as well so we are helping them out with the EDB with EMA to make the roll out of electric charging infrastructure available. It is the government’s plan for the next five years to upgrade the platform here for electric cars to come. The first 22 cars are now here, and there is going to be a lot more in the future. All of our solutions have been developed here, in Singapore.
IAA: What impact has your partnership with Autodesk helped your business?
OR: It has impacted the hardware and the software side of things. The partnership with Autodesk is a phenomenal opportunity for us to make all our processes much better and leaner.
Previously we have been depending on our suppliers to tell us the right things, now all our engineers can do this directly in-house, but of course we have not been able to buy a software package for US$250,000, so we are very happy to be a part of this program because it will help us immediately to boost up our business to make everything faster and much more economical.