Imagine driving up to a public charging station and charging your electric car using your own or preferred electricity tariff – just as easily as at home. The BANULA project is turning this vision into reality. Using blockchain technology, BANULA enables the smooth exchange of data between the grid and the market. At E-World 2023, TransnetBW and prototype.club were looking for innovative start-ups to develop an effective market entry strategy for this pioneering project. In this interview, Maximilian Hoedl tells us more about the challenges and opportunities of BANULA.

Interview with Maximilian Hödl, Advisor Product Development at

Can you give us an overview of the BANULA project and explain what its goals are?

In the BANULA project – which stands for BArrierfreie und NUtzerfreundliche LAdemöglichkeiten (barrier-free and user-friendly charging options) – we are testing taking one’s own electricity tariff to the public charging station. This means that you can charge your electric car at the public charging station with your private electricity tariff at transparent conditions. At the same time, charging points with BANULA will be operated in such a way that there will be no problems for grid operators when electric mobility is ramped up.

TransnetBW has already set several challenges with prototype.club. How did the collaboration come about?

The collaboration with prototype.club came about as a result of our positive experiences from previous projects. As these collaborations have always been successful, we wanted to utilise this proven partnership for the BANULA project as well.

„What we enjoyed most about working with prototype.club was the uncomplicated and direct support.“

Maximilian Hoedl presenting BANULA at E-World.prototype.club 2023

How did you experience the organisation and implementation of the challenge by prototype.club? What aspects of the collaboration did you particularly like?

What we enjoyed most about working with prototype.club was the uncomplicated and direct support. We were able to concentrate on the technical organisation of the challenge and prototype.club turned it into a great innovation competition with many qualified participants.

How did prototype.club contribute to finding the right solution for your challenge?

First and foremost, prototype.club’s network and the pre-selection of participants in the challenge. Another important contribution is the innovation competition itself: a successful trade fair stand and an appearance on the big stage for the pitches and the awards ceremony.

What differentiated decarbon1ze’s solution from others and ultimately made it the winner of the challenge?

Decarbon1ze GmbH stood out due to its great expertise and, as a result, a very customised solution to the challenge. In contrast to the other participants, the start-up had more experience in the field of electromobility and was therefore better able to understand our needs.

Decarbon1ze was ultimately contracted for the BANULA-project. What concrete steps followed this decision?

Following the innovation competition, decarbon1ze was awarded the follow-up contract, which was defined as a prize in advance. Specifically, decarbon1ze’s idea was successfully tested at a charging station in the Freiburg area as part of this follow-up contract and thus made a lasting contribution to the success of the BANULA project.

How has working with the start-up helped you in your project and how is the collaboration going?

Decarbon1ze GmbH provided a solution module for the project, which is still in use. Thanks to this collaboration, the project progressed much faster. In addition, there was an intensive exchange of knowledge, and the contact is still active today and is lived.

Decarbon1ze, TransnetBW and prototype.club at E-World.prototype.club 2023

Can you give us some insights into the results so far?

The BANULA project will upgrade the public charging stations to allow customers to use their own electricity tariff. At the same time, however, there are many customers who still want to charge their e-car using their roaming card or ad hoc charging. The idea of decarbon1ze has made it possible to implement all variants, in other words previous charging with roaming or ad-hoc and new charging with your own electricity tariff, in parallel and without restrictions for existing customers.

What are the advantages of working with a start-up like decarbon1ze compared to larger, established companies?

A key advantage of working with a start-up is that the internal processes are very fast. In concrete terms, this means that any enquiries, appointments, signatures and requests can be dealt with in the shortest possible time and still with a high level of quality.

Are there any plans to further expand or scale the BANULA-project based on the results of the collaboration with decarbon1ze and prototype.club?

BANULA is first and foremost a research project whose success has been significantly influenced by the collaboration. The extent to which the results of the project will be expanded or scaled-up in the long term will become clear over time, towards the end of the project.

What advice would you give to other companies that want to tackle similar innovation projects in collaboration with open innovation partners like us?

Just give it a go, you can learn a lot from the network, the solutions presented and generally from working with agile start-ups.

Innovation competitions are exciting and inspiring, but also exhausting. How do you relax after an intensive day full of innovation and challenges?

The challenge day at the trade fair is really intense. The best way to round off the day at the trade fair is to meet up with your colleagues on site and stroll around the exhibition centre together.

 

The collaboration with prototype.club and the start-up decarbon1ze has taken the BANULA- project to a new level. These partnerships have not only produced innovative solutions, but have also shown how powerful collaboration with agile and specialised start-ups can be. Imagine how e-car owners will seamlessly use their own electricity tariff at public charging points in the future. The successes so far speak for themselves and give hope for an exciting future. The further development of the project continues to be full of exciting possibilities.

 

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BANULA

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Jessica Wrobel

Creative mind with a passion for relevant and good content