Energy-intensive businesses in the crosshairs of BrainBox AI

With a fundraising of 40 million dollars carried out last summer, the young Montreal startup BrainBox AI is moving up a gear. It wants to extend the scope of its optimization tools for industrial buildings to large retailers who want to reduce the costs and emissions of heating and air conditioning of their many businesses.

BrainBox AI hopes to reproduce with other major Canadian or foreign chains the model applied since last fall in stores and warehouses of the Canadian brand Sleep Country (owner of Dormez-vous stores in Quebec). The company says it has succeeded in reducing its energy costs by more than a quarter and polluting emissions from air conditioning systems by almost a third where its technology is functional.

In addition to Sleep Country, the Canadian outdoor chain SAIL has also decided to adopt the technology of the start-up. This optimizes and automates air conditioning management using machine learning algorithms derived from research in artificial intelligence made in collaboration with the organizations IVADO and Mila, in Montreal, as well as with the renewable energy research laboratory of the United States Department of Energy.

BrainBox targets retailers of all sizes struggling with soaring energy costs, explains in an interview with To have to its CEO, Sam Ramadori. “AI works very well with lots of data and is easy for big players to adopt. Ours gives the little ones who spend maybe $20,000 a year on heating and who don’t have the means to dedicate personnel to solve this issue, to reduce that by $5,000. It makes a difference! »

After a few years of development, the young Montreal company is entering what it hopes will be a phase of accelerated growth this year. Sam Ramadori plans to double to more than a thousand by the end of 2023 the number of buildings where his technology is applied. “Since 2019, we have added sites of different kinds to improve our solutions. This year we are increasing the pace, in the retail sector in particular, we expect a very significant number of installations. »

When heating is expensive

Founded in 2017, BrainBox AI illustrates rather well the adage that no one is a prophet in his country. The demand for its technology has mainly arisen outside Quebec. This explains it: the low price of energy in the province translates for businesses into heating and cooling costs for their buildings that can be “six to eight times lower” than what they pay in Europe. , notably.

The company is currently present in 70 cities located in around twenty countries. Its most recent expansion came in early 2022 when it notably made inroads in the New York area of ​​the United States. Despite less pronounced interest in Quebec, North America has become its main market and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

BrainBox AI has so far mainly succeeded in convincing managers of office buildings and industrialists. Its breakthrough in the retail sector will allow it to develop a new market that is slow to tackle its own climate challenges. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, retail is responsible for more than a quarter of global human-related greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s really hard for the big chains that have climate targets to reduce GHG emissions throughout their supply chain: it starts from factories in Asia, warehouses, transport…”, sums up Sam Ramadori. “From our side, it’s easy: we offer a one-click solution that reduces their heating emissions. »

Since the technology developed by BrainBox AI is essentially software and managed remotely via the Internet, the company also simplifies its operations: it can consolidate the majority of its 145 employees in its Montreal offices. “Our luck is that when we add sites as far away as Australia, the majority of new jobs are created here in Quebec. »

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Energy-intensive businesses in the crosshairs of BrainBox AI


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