Made in Emerging Europe

Made in emerging Europe: The start-up making buildings intelligent, not just smart

To fight climate change it’s no longer enough to make buildings smart, they need to be intelligent. Bisly, an Estonian start-up, is hoping to speed up the transformation.

Making buildings ‘intelligent’ can extend the potential of ‘smart’ buildings to be even more efficient by integrating and optimising individual smart controllers for functions such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and security in a single platform.

With the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the EU’s energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) mandates major efficiency improvements in how all buildings utilise energy for things like heating, cooling, lighting, and hot water. According to the EU, 75 per cent of current building stock in the bloc does not meet the required new standards.

With this demanding legislative timetable now in place, the search is on for economic solutions to construct and retrofit buildings with the technological intelligence to minimise energy consumption.

Bisly, an Estonian start-up, wants to make it economically feasible to make any building energy-efficient, and last week closed a 3.6 million euros fundraising round to help it do just that. The round was led by Aconterra with support from Second Century Ventures and REACH UK, SmartCap Green Fund, and Pinorena Capital, as well as several angel investors.

The Tallinn-based firm works with both commercial and residential properties and currently is deploying projects in cooperation with over 25 real estate developers and funds. The new funding will be used to capture a fast-growing market by widening and deepening Bisly’s market engagement in Europe, with an emphasis on the Nordics, DACH region, and the UK.

Addressing a complex problem

“Bisly is simplifying a very complex industry that is addressing the even more complex problem of climate change,” says the firm’s CEO and co-founder Siim Vips. 

“People are just becoming familiar with the concept of smart homes or smart buildings, and intelligent buildings go even a step beyond that. We are driven by a high degree of urgency and by the fact that our solution will get more buildings into sustainable operations in less time and less money than any other solution on the market.”

By combining all aspects of intelligent building—manufacturing, installation, building management software, and digital twin infrastructure—into one platform, Bisly claims that it is able to reduce acquisition costs to the point of near parity with conventional construction and management practices, while dramatically reducing installation and running costs. Its closest competitors are currently achieving a price point that is two and half times higher.

Bisly offers either a nominal SaaS fee combined with a one-off installation “buyout” fee for residential projects, or a slightly higher monthly SaaS fee with no up-front costs for commercial projects.

Strong expected growth makes early-stage firms attractive

In its home market of Estonia, Bisly has achieved a market leadership position in building automation, capturing over 25 per cent of the total market there in less than five years.

According to Tyler Thompson, managing partner of Second Century Ventures and REACH Global, “intelligent building technology holds immense potential for global growth as economies worldwide are striving to achieve net-zero goals.”

The global intelligent building market is currently estimated at 86 billion US dollars, and is expected to reach 148 billion US dollars by 2027. This rate of growth is being driven by strategic factors such as high energy costs and ESG compliance, and makes early-stage start-ups in the sector attractive for investors.

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