“See the big picture!” How the start-up Enerdrape benefited from BRIDGE’s support at a turning point in their project.

To conclude our series of successful BRIDGE Proof of Concept fellows, please meet today Margaux Peltier who is thrilled to share her experience with you. Her project is hosted by the EPFL.

Picture credits: Alain Herzog

What is your BRIDGE Proof of Concept project about?

Our project is about ‘turning underground infrastructures into heat exchangers’. We have developed a panel-technology that allows turning any kind of underground infrastructures into renewable heat sources for the heating and cooling needs of buildings. This invention is disrupting the way we access geothermal heat and address one of the biggest challenges for the decarbonisation of our cities: their supply in renewable heating and cooling.

The BRIDGE Proof of Concept project allowed us to reach a TRL-6 and build the system scale demonstrator of the technology in a real garage in Lausanne. This installation was key on several aspects:

  • Validating energy performance at the system scale,
  • Gathering feedback and learnings from a first installation in a real environment,
  • Collecting technical and economic data.

What were the main hurdles you encountered?

During the project, the main hurdles we encountered were mainly project delays due to the pandemic and global supply chain situation. Building a first mini-series of panels that combine all minimal features to be built as part of a system was also quite a challenge, with more iterations than originally planned as well as budget overrun.

What was your motivation to apply for a BRIDGE Proof of Concept?

When we applied, we were at a turning point; the technology has been conceptualised and prototyped in the Laboratory of Soil Mechanics. Performance of individual panels have been tested and validated but the current prototypes did not have the minimal features to build an up-scaled system, and on the other hand, the system scale validation was key for the future technology development.

Funding from the Bridge Proof of Concept was the opportunity to develop and validate essential metrics, both technical and economical metrics in order to achieve key milestones in term of technology elevation. In particular, this upscaling of the system allowed us to refine the product development and industrialisation plan.

Apart from the technical aspects, the upscaled installation was also an opportunity to get feedback on the business case from potential future clients and partners. For example, additional features were integrated in the new product development based on client and partner feedbacks.

According to your own experience, what is key to a successful BRIDGE Proof of Concept?

In my opinion, the key for a successful BRIDGE Proof of Concept is to see the big picture. As young graduate, we tend to focus on the project itself. A BRIDGE Proof of Concept project is about helping you to get a step forward and give you the impulse for a larger vision. The What, How, Why, Where are important:

What is your project about? How are you going to do it? Why it is key for the further developments? Where will it bring you?