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Powering the potential for a brighter future in the energy sector

Design workshops

6

Design workshops

Customer interviews

25

Customer interviews

Workshop participants

145

Workshop participants

Research subjects

10

Research subjects

X_Site at Dogpatch Labs

Disruption in the energy sector is a key driver in the establishment by ESB of its first innovation hub, X-Site, at Dogpatch Labs.

A Hub for Future Energy Solutions

ESB’s X_Site innovation hub is where teams explore disruptive ideas, pilot new concepts and collaborate with customers to develop future energy products and services.

 

Established in Dogpatch Labs in 2016, X_Site allows staff to learn agile techniques from startups and pilot new business propositions in a rapidly changing energy tech sector.

Engagement with Startup Community

X_Site positions ESB to learn from the wider startup community and provokes disruptive thinking across ESB.

 

Proximity to other startups in Dogpatch Labs enables easy sharing of learnings and techniques, which is helping to drive innovation agility across our project teams.

Catapult Program

This programme, facilitated in partnership with Framlabs and Dogpatch Labs, set out to design validation experiments for existing propositions.

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ESB Mini-Incubator

Over 2 days graduates from Irish universities visited Dogpatch for a host of creative workshops to to help apply commercial reality to real business opportunities in energy tech.

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Energy Tech Meetups

Bringing together experts, startups and investors from the energy sector to Dogpatch Labs to discuss new innovations in energy tech.

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Innovation Academy

Generation & Supply business units were introduced to the Design Thinking framework, developing new ideas to solve company or customers’ problems.

Project Progress

A number of projects have been supported by X_Site over the last two years.

Planet 9 Energy

Planet 9 received ESB corporate backing in early 2016 to bring this new business to market. In April 2017, Planet 9 graduated from X_Site @ Dogpatch Labs and relocated to its own head office at SOBO Works, Windmill Lane, Dublin 2.

 

Since April it has been working to refine its market offering, develop its unique technology, build its customer base, grow its team and operationalise its activities to meet the needs of its customers.

Home Hero

This start-up business released early versions of a disruptive service: a virtual energy advisor for switching energy provider. This was done as a real world experiment to understand how much market traction an unknown brand could achieve with an innovative new service.

 

Throughout this experiment many product enhancements were delivered to enhance the user experience and the technology functioned effectively at scale.

Certainty Plus

Certainty Plus is a subscription based electricity product where the customer pays a fixed amount each month for his other electricity consumption. Initially this product was trialled across SME customers which had a defined and consistent load profile.

 

Electric Ireland has since made the Certainty Plus product available to all SME customers through its Business Markets sales team and take-up has steadily increased.

Energy Insights

One of the outcomes from ESB’s Big Data Roadmap was the establishment of a Data Science team within Smart Energy Technologies and the creation of a new business line to offer data analytic services to energy utility companies and large energy users.

 

The Data Science team has since applied its skills to provide valuable data-based insights to many parts of the ESB Group and to develop solutions that are helping drive workforce and commercial efficiencies.

Powering Energy Innovation

If you believe that you have a great product, service or business idea and think that the X_Site team could help you to move it forward, you can contact the X-Site team at xsite@esb.ie.

"Our partnership with Dogpatch Labs gives us an ideal platform for ESB to connect with an Irish grassroots tech community and helps drive the required culture change to transform ESB into an innovation energy leader."

Fergal Egan, Energy Innovation Manager, ESB

Customer Centricity

A core objective of X_Site is to position the customer at the centre of ESB’s innovation cycle. The X_Site team has been applying “customer centric” techniques in the evaluation and development of new service and business opportunities.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a customer focused problem-solving methodology. X_Site has led a number of Applied Design Thinking Workshops for different parts of ESB.

 

These workshops are designed to address real business challenges facing the company and a number of simple techniques are followed to get workshop participants (ESB staff) to adopt and simulate the persona of the customer, evaluate the problem/opportunity from this customer’s perspective and then to explore options for enhancing this customer’s experience over time.

Ethnographic Research

This technique essentially immerses the researcher in the centre of the customers’ lives, so that the researcher can fully understand the challenges faced by them and discover insights into new products or services that could provide real meaningful value to the customer.

 

X_Site employed the services of a professional ethnographic researcher as part of the exploration stage of the Electric Water Heating project. The learnings from this customer focused research have helped X_Site refine this customer value proposition

User Observation & Interviews

Ethnographic research typically requires identification and pre-agreement with those customers who will be the subject
of the analysis. This can take time to organise. A simpler and faster approach is User Observation & Interviews.

 

X_Site has started using these techniques to observe how customers use services in-situ and then through informal interviews it has identified the motivations that drive customer behaviour and choice. Using cycles of observations/interviews with different customers, the team is able to narrow its focus on the customer problem to be solved or on the elements of a service or product that the customer needs.

Ecosystem Engagement

Graduate Mini-Incubator

The mini-incubator in June 2018 introduced ESB graduates to innovative thinking principles and provided them with a range of tools and techniques that could be applied to new business opportunities for ESB.

 

Over the course of two days, experienced mentors supported the graduates in using customer centric and commercial techniques such as Design Thinking and Business Model Canvas Modelling to explore real business opportunities.

Energy Tech Meetups

X_Site set-up and launched the Energy Tech meetup group, positioning ESB at the centre of innovative thinking and knowledge sharing across the energy and overlapping sectors.

 

The first meet-up was held in November 2017 with over 100 attendees from diverse energy and non-energy niches hearing insights from ESB and other companies on future developments in the sector over the coming years. By end 2017 the Energy Tech meet-up community had almost 400 members from outside ESB and was continuing to grow.

The Big Energy Hack

ESB held its Big Energy Hack at Dogpatch Labs from 21-23 Oct 2016. Over 140 participants from diverse backgrounds and industries took part and teams developed ideas focusing on 3 challenges.

 

In addition to the great ideas that were shared at the event, the Hackathon was another visible symbol both to the external world and to internal staff, that ESB is fully supportive of innovation and sees the future value that initiatives like the Big Energy Hack can generate for the company.