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Smart buildings are out, intelligent buildings are in: Bisly brings energy savings to all

Making buildings energy-efficient doesn’t have to be a rich person’s game, says Estonian CleanTech Bisly.

It’s probably safe to say that lack of innovation has never been an issue in the CleanTech world. The problem is that most emerging technologies with sustainability in mind, no matter how innovative or promising, have a hard time scaling and competing with traditional (read: cheap) solutions.

Luckily, there’s an Estonian for every problem.

Estonian CleanTech Bisly is making a name for itself as a scalable intelligent building solution on a mission to make energy-saving simple and affordable for everyone. Bisly’s technology is already boosting energy efficiency in thousands of apartments and offices. They combine manufacturing, installation, building management software, and digital twin infrastructure into one platform.

Having solidified their lead on the Estonian market with 25% of the market share in building automation, the company now has its sights set further afield.

Move over, smart buildings—intelligence has entered the building

The built environment is responsible for roughly 40% of annual global carbon dioxide emissions. And the construction process isn’t even the main culprit. The biggest environmental impact of our homes and offices comes from heating, cooling, and lighting them. Intelligent buildings can cut those emissions in half, but only 5% of buildings have some type of automation to optimise energy efficiency to that degree.

Smart buildings as a concept have been around for a while now. And while having an app to adjust the thermostat may make the home smarter, the numbers speak for themselves—current solutions are not making large-scale impacts. To comply with the European Commission’s building energy efficiency directive and reach carbon neutrality by 2050, building developers and owners have to make significant changes.

“We wanted to make the perfect product that would address the 95% of the market that’s currently missing out because of the price, quality, and delivery capabilities,” says Bisly CEO Siim Vips.

“The first problem with most smart buildings is the cost,” he says. “But a much bigger issue is that there’s usually a custom setup for that specific building, and it works only until some integrated devices get an upgrade—then ten other things break.” Therefore, keeping a smart building as smart as it needs to be is an ongoing process and an expensive hassle—that doesn’t sound all that smart.

Another major difference between the average smart building and an intelligent one by Bisly’s definition is whether the customer experience and energy efficiency improve over time. Bisly works with all available smart home gadgets, integrates through open standards with available hardware, and is always up to date. This approach allows continuous improvement to the user experience and energy savings. It helps tick several boxes on a building owner’s or manager’s checklist: affordable, simple to implement, delivering immediate savings, and aiding in compliance with ESG requirements.

“An intelligent building is a smart building that actually works,” Vips concludes.


Now, about that scalability…

Products that work are great. But if it works but doesn’t scale, do you even have a product?

Bisly’s solution has been designed from the ground up to be as affordable, efficient, and scalable as possible. “We wanted to be hands-on initially, both on the hardware development side and also the software development side,” says Vips. “From the start, we have been keeping the hardware components at a minimum. We’re also able to reduce quite a lot of overhead from the sales, installation, and support processes, pushing the cost down. And now we’re reaching the point where the platform and the product are mature enough to open them up to partners, making the business scalable.”

The sensor hardware component of Bisly’s solution is manufactured in collaboration with local partners keeping production and storage prices down even as the adoption of the solution grows. The time invested in developing and adjusting the platform allowed the company to fully understand the needs of installation professionals and end-users. Lining up all the necessary pieces has positioned Bisly for its next phase—scaling.

The company just entered the UK market with their first local showrooms and sales staff has hitting the ground running. Next up is Germany, a large market key to Bisly’s scaling plans.


The future of intelligent buildings

Bisly’s journey towards making energy efficiency more accessible started with new residential buildings. “We have a 100% track record,” Vips says. “Every developer who has started with us has continued with us.”

But there are only so many new buildings being built. The challenges, and the biggest growth in terms of business for Bisly, come from renovation and retrofitting. Think office buildings, stranded assets—buildings over a decade old, which are performing poorly and need some serious upgrading to fit the minimum ESG standards. That’s where the big fish are waiting to be fried.

In late 2023, Bisly raised 3.6 million euros to fuel the next stage of scaling the business, and 2024 is already promising to be a significant year. In January, the company announced that the role of COO would be taken on by Ants Vill, a longtime board member and top executive at Skeleton Tech.

Since scaling in CleanTech often becomes a question of lacking the right know-how, this strategic hire lines up another piece to fulfill the company’s growth plan. With an extensive background in the energy sector, Vill’s addition to the Bisly team brings key experience with entering new markets and scaling the business.

“After being the chairman of Bisly board for 2+ years, I felt the time was ripe to join with my knowledge and experience from tech sector,” says Vills. “Intelligent buildings at scale have the potential for higher impact than the full EV revolution can have. That’s a challenge big enough to keep us going day and night.”

The experience will surely come in handy because the company’s next goals are ambitious. “We’re aiming at least three times growth in terms of revenue, and we’re opening new markets, including the UK and Germany,” Vips says.

Interested in investing in Estonia?  Read more about the CleanTech opportunities Estonia offers and use our 1:1 e-Consulting service to get started.

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