A competition for the future of thermal comfort in homes. Airwell, a company specializing in climate and thermal engineering, organized an awards ceremony for the first student challenge on June 2 at its location in Montigny-le-Bretonneux on solutions to optimize household energy consumption. This competition was conceived in 2016 by Laurent Roegel, CEO of this company with 72 employees (counting its three locations, in Montigny, Valence, and Caen), as part of his plan to relaunch the company, which experienced difficulties. in the 2000s.
“In 2014, we really settled down, saying to ourselves,‘ We’re going to be leaders again, but leaders of what? ’” He recalls. By analyzing the market, we told ourselves […] that we need [passe] from the ” I make a product ” side to ” I create an ecosystem ”. The heat pump becomes a component, I add photovoltaics, connected objects, data, to create energy efficiency algorithms. That’s a strategic change we started in 2014-2015, the leader continued. So, very quickly, in 2016, I wanted to create a student challenge. I told myself that innovation, ideas of the future, if we want to be disruptive, fashionable, if we want to see where the market is in ten years, we have to work with these young people. They will have ideas of where the market is in ten years. »
The launch of the contest took a while. “We are a group that has lost a lot of money, we have to first restore the finances, renew the teams, […] this is not the right time ”, explained Laurent Roegel. It was finally launched six years later, with the goals of “coming up with new ideas around innovation and energy efficiency”, and “recovering and seeing young people come, supporting them in creation. of start-ups “. -up, in their lives, ”according to the CEO.
About sixty teams took part, coming from various engineering and business schools in France. From January 10 they are already working on their projects. After two rounds of internal selection, five finalist teams were selected, then a jury of six members – three from Airwell and three outsiders – assigned a group of five students from EPF, a high school. engineers located in Cachan. , as the winner of the initial prize, similar to a drone. “99% of your presentation is our three year development plan. But I know that some ideas come from you ”, Laurent Roegel revealed to them, welcoming the“ animation, the quality of the presentation, the exchange, the relevance ”of these students.
Their solution consists of making improvements to the existing Airhome application, developed by Airwell, related to energy sensors and devices, all powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). “We told ourselves that we would implement artificial intelligence in Airhome, to predict the user’s consumption, when he is at home or on the move, and also, to improve his way of consumption, explains Juliette André, head of student group project.This is an application solution, which can work with sensors or not depending on what the user wants, using GPS, Linky data, and meteorological data.He added that such a device is will improve its consumption by 10 to 15 %.He and his classmates work an average of 4 hours a week on the project, their school often frees them every Thursday morning to devote themselves to it .
This group of students, after their six months of classes and their remaining six months internship, can use this competition as a springboard to work at Airwell. “To see, we don’t close any doors,” Juliette André replied. In any case, this is also one of the goals of the Airwell challenge. “It is a form of recruitment or support for start-ups. If young people have two or three projects, it can also be supportive of creating their company or our merger ”, assured Laurent Roegel, who says he was“ surprised at 66 [participants]in the number of teams, in the quality of [cinq] finalists ”, but“ somewhat negatively surprised at the absence of the prototype ”in the presentations.
“They’re more of a concept than a prototype.[…] Maybe we didn’t target the timing of their end-of-year projects properly, ”he admitted. That will probably be part of the elements to be adapted for the 2nd edition, next year. In the meantime, the group plans to inaugurate a training center by the end of September, in a building it acquired right next to what it currently occupies in Montigny.