Nowadays, we hear more often about smart cities, but do we really know what they are? In short, the smart city is a city that manages resources in a smart way, aiming to become economically sustainable and energy self-sufficient paying particular attention to the environmental impact.
In this interview, we had the pleasure to understand the topic in detail with Huna, a start-up accelerated by STEP Tech Park, which provides products and services in order to facilitate the digitization of cities guaranteeing cleaner and more innovative urban ecosystems.
Hi guys, can you tell our community how the idea of Huna was born?
Huna was born from the experience gained by one of its founders in the public lighting sector and from the awareness of the issues that this sector still faces.
Nowadays, public lighting is characterized by obsolete and inefficient infrastructures. Factors of inefficiency are high energy consumption and higher costs for citizens, poor lighting quality, and high costs for maintenance. There are also technological inefficiencies due to the poor integration of the infrastructures with other areas of the urban ecosystem. Moreover, these technical difficulties are combined with the need for regulatory compliance through the installation of new technologies.
We want to solve these problems. Our mission is to reduce the distance between imagination and reality, facilitating the digital transition of cities with the goal to create cleaner, more sustainable, and innovative urban ecosystems.
What products and services are currently on the market?
Currently, we are in the public lighting market with three products: one software and two hardware. They have been specifically designed for the public lighting sector, from large utilities to small design studios, passing through medium-size ESCos and municipal companies.
Light Touch is the software platform that allows our customers to manage a variety of operations like census digital maps, planning, maintenance, remote control, and energy management. These features are reflected in the digitalization companies and in the collection of data in order to help our customers to improve business performance and the quality of life in the cities.
We designed Light Touch to be as open as possible from a technological point of view, in order to be easily integrated with third-party devices and services.
Light Buddy and Light Mate are the hardware solutions installed respectively in the electrical panels and lamps. Light Buddy regulates the on and off cycles by continuously monitoring the operating status of the system and the energy consumption, while Light Mate guarantees exceptional energy savings.
For these products, we are obtaining the Italian patent recognition by 2021 and then we will go for the international.
What are the benefits?
First of all, energy savings up to 50% compared to the current situation. The savings are also valid in terms of lower operating costs which are not only internal ones, but external too, as the probability of incurring penalties for a disservice doesn’t really exist.
Our customers are able to manage a greater number of projects more efficiently. This means being more competitive.
The final advantage is Huna’s mission and vision: the creation of cleaner, more innovative, and sustainable cities.
Tell us about your latest project.
One of the latest projects we have worked on was with the municipality of Cerva. It is a very small town, with only 1,146 inhabitants but despite the size and spending limits, even Cerva is smarter today.
Here a bit of data. With more than 250 light points, we expect an energy saving of 15,000 kWh/year and a monetary saving of € 3,000 per year. The initial investment was € 9,500. From the point of view of environmental impact, we can say that we expect a reduction in emissions of 5.1 tons of CO2, equivalent to having planted 54 trees in a city park.
This is a clear example of how our solutions are not only applicable to big cities and large budgets but our innovation works for small businesses too.
What is the growth strategy for the upcoming years?
We have two priorities: develop new business products and the internationalization of the company.
We want to be a 360-degree smart city company. We started with public lighting, but we are planning new products and services like smart solutions for parking, traffic monitoring, and air quality. We would like to provide to the lighting infrastructures also a series of additional services that will make cities even smarter.
For example, we are finalizing a computer vision system capable of detecting free spaces in a parking lot. The user will be guided by the navigator to a free parking slot reducing the driving time, traffic congestion, and most importantly the pollution.
What do you like about the STEP program and what are the advantages that you think could help any start-up?
First of all, the team. The energy, motivation, and skills for any of the projects we are working on are very high. The guys at STEP have somehow made our goals their own too creating a special working environment.
The strategic network is also very important to develop our business. But without the human factor, even the opportunities would remain on paper.
Did you like the interview and you want to discover more about the startup?
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