Startup Spotlight: Dubai-Based Tech Startup Digital Energy Is Helping Energy Intensive Firms To Conduct Sustainable Operations Digital Energy offers AI-driven solutions to help companies reduce emissions, resources, waste, as well as costs across supply chains and operations.
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This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
Launched in 2016, Dubai-based tech startup Digital Energy uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help energy intensive companies track, trace and then sustainably optimize the resources they use. To describe the ecosystem in which his startup operates, founder Morgan Eldred has coined the term "environmics"- a combination of sustainability practices and economic strategies.
"Digital Energy aims to address the high levels of emissions from industrial waste of energy and water, which then leads to inefficient costs," Eldred explains. "Being in the UAE -which places a high importance on environmental protection, and is the host of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28)- inspires the company to improve supply chain operations and field work with advanced digital solutions. The goal is thus to create a sustainable future for the coming generations. Dubai is a hub for investors with similar views, making it the ideal place to initiate solutions!"
When Eldred first decided to take on the challenge of solving such energy-based inefficiencies in multiple sectors, he did so with the assurance that he possessed the right knowledge for it. You see, prior to launching Digital Energy, Eldred had been an energy research director at Stamford-based technological research and consulting firm Gartner, worked in strategy development for Denmark-based oil and gas company Maersk Oil (a subsidiary of Denmark-based logistics and supply chain firm Maersk, Maersk Oil was acquired France-based multi-energy company Total Energies in 2017), and also done transformational program delivery at Netherlands-based oil and gas company Shell.
Deriving from these experiences, he came up with AI-driven solutions to help companies reduce emissions, resources, waste, as well as costs across supply chains and operations. As a result, Digital Energy's operations are split into three: a unique three-step process to track and trace every element in a given supply chain, an environmics-driven service that allows companies to prioritize critical resources, and a collaborative platform to connect fieldwork, supply chain and planning into one solution. "The business model includes subscriptions and licenses, and some instances may explore profit sharing or service-based models," Eldred adds. "Our differentiating factors are our team of diverse digital and energy experts, the use of AI trained on large cross-industry data sets, and proven impact with clients across the supply chain."
Since its launch, the startup has seen considerable growth. However, it was in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis that Digital Energy witnessed 100% year-on-year growth. "We expect to continue this growth in 2023," Eldred says. "To date, the company has been customer- and partner-funded. The team has over 25 employees, with a large research and technology partner network. The company is now exploring investment rounds, with a focus on the large, untapped market of AI solutions for Scope 3 [a level to indicate indirect emissions that occur in a company's value chain] greenhouse gas emissions tracking."
In achieving these goals, Eldred believes being based in the Emirate of Dubai -which has also allowed for his startup's enrolment into the MBRIF program- will certainly be a positive factor. "Dubai's successful economic initiatives have been a motivator for the startup- the city's infrastructure is a major benefit, attracting investors to contribute to positive causes," he adds. "The MBRIF too supports sustainable innovation that aligns with the company's goals and values. A challenge, however, has been educating the market on the need for a different perspective, and breaking away from relying on industry giants for technology."
Having thus realized that much work still needs to be done in terms of shifting mindsets, Eldred says he never overlooks the need for human touch in the midst of technological advancements. "Innovation is crucial, but human intelligence is also essential to embed within AI," he declares. "Our company leverages technology for its ability to process information and provide focused insights, but human creativity is still necessary to think about future solutions!"