Virta, a frontrunner in electric vehicle charging platforms, collaborates with Business Finland, benefitting from innovation funding and loans for its R&D efforts. Now entering a phase of swift international growth, Virta’s latest endeavor aims to integrate EV batteries into the power grid, addressing the surging need for energy flexibility.
Virta’s Grid Innovation: Revolutionizing Energy Balance with EV Charging Networks
Virta is redefining the electricity market’s approach to maintaining balance between production and demand, especially in the face of challenges introduced by the proliferation of variable renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Traditionally, imbalances were addressed by ramping up or down the output of hydroelectric and thermal power plants, a solution that, while effective, is increasingly seen as cumbersome and less sustainable. Virta’s innovative solution harnesses the power of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, connecting them into a unified demand response reserve. This network is capable of reacting in real-time to disturbances in the grid, ensuring stability and continuity without the need for additional, heavy-duty power plants. By leveraging this technology, Virta supports a more responsive and resilient energy system, tailored to the complexities of modern electricity markets.
Pioneering Sustainable Mobility: Virta’s Bidirectional Charging and Global Vision
Beyond merely offering a sophisticated charging platform, Virta is pioneering the integration of bidirectional charging technology to further bridge the gap between sustainable mobility and energy systems. This approach allows the battery capacity of EVs to be aggregated and utilized as a flexible energy resource, capable of feeding power back into the grid during times of need. Such innovation not only circumvents the slow and capital-intensive process of bringing new power plants online but also aligns with Virta’s mission since its inception in 2013: to expedite the transition to sustainable mobility and energy systems. With ambitions to lead the service platform market in Europe and Southeast Asia, Virta is not just addressing today’s energy challenges but is laying the groundwork for a future where electric transport and energy sustainability are deeply interconnected, driving both profitability and ecological preservation.
LIIKENNEVIRTA OY / VIRTA LTD.
Founded in Helsinki in 2013
One of the world’s leading digital EV charging platforms that enables charging point owners, such as large charging networks and retail chains, to manage their charger networks and turn the provision of EV charging services into a business
Employs more than 230 people (January 2024)
Holds the largest number of software patents related to the integration of EV charging and the energy system in the industry globally.
Estimated turnover in 2023 close to EUR 80 million
Average annual growth in turnover (CAGR) 119% between 2014 and 2022
More than 1,000 B2B customers with more than 100,000 charging points in 36 countries (January 2024)
The service allows you to charge your electric car at over 500,000 charging points in more than 60 countries (January/2024)
Key markets and personnel: Finland (headquarters), Nordic countries, DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), France, UK and Ireland, South-East Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia), Romania (2nd technology unit)
The Decarbonized Cities Program launched by Business Finland on April 18, 2023 aims to make Finland a globally recognized provider of sustainable, carbon-neutral solutions for cities. The program helps Finnish companies and organizations to find international cooperation and business partners. New exports are estimated to amount to several billion euros.
Smart solutions and sustainability principles drive global urban development
Urban development has a significant impact on climate change: cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and account for more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the near future, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The largest challenges in urban environments are related to the built environment, energy, and traffic. From the point of view of the cities of the future, the utilization of digitalization and data as well as new business models have great potential.
Most major cities in Europe and in many other OECD countries have set a challenging goal to become carbon neutral by 2030 or 2035. The EU has selected 100 cities to implement the EU’s Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities mission. Six of these are located in Finland: Espoo, Helsinki, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Tampere, and Turku. The goal of the mission is to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 through developing smart and sustainable solutions.
Decarbonized Cities Program In a Nutshell
The aim is to help Finnish companies and other stakeholders to create new business and networks by solving urban carbon-neutrality issues.
The program will increase and strengthen the multisectoral supply and expertise that cities need to manage their CO2 emissions and energy transition today and tomorrow.
Long-term relationships with foreign cities are established in terms of both innovation and business.
New Finnish exports will amount to EUR 3 billion.
The program will involve close collaboration with selected domestic and foreign cities, large and small companies, researchers, and other stakeholders.
The program will focus on comprehensive solutions instead of partial solutions.
EUR 150 million will be allocated to the development and modification of solutions.
Business Finland is funding Tampereen Raitiotie Oy’s Lyyli Living Lab development environment through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding program, which is part of the Sustainable Growth Program for Finland. Lyyli Living Lab is an inclusive RDI environment for the development, validation, and the acquisition of market references of sustainable, rail-based, smart urban transport technologies and services.
Lyyli Living Lab is a real-life development and test environment for urban transport products and services. At its core, it is a tram car equipped with exceptional measurement devices, IT connections, and a data management and analytics system.
LYYLI LIVING LAB
Operations started in Tampere in early 2022.
Lyyli Living Lab is an open piloting, development, and validation environment that invites Finnish and international operators to join its partner company network and to use its services by submitting an application to Tampereen Raitiotie Oy and agreeing on a partnership fee corresponding to their chosen participation period.
The operations of the Lyyli Living Lab development environment are steered by the TURMS innovation cluster, which is financed through partnership fees and Business Finland’s funding that will continue to the end of 2025.
The steering group of the innovation cluster includes Tampereen Raitiotie Oy, Skoda Transtech, Business Finland, Business Tampere, City of Tampere, VTT, and the University of Tampere.
Business Finland has granted EUR 366,000 to the rail transport laboratory. In addition, Business Finland has granted funding to the SmartRail ecosystem.
RRF FUNDING IN A KEY ROLE
Lyyli Living Lab is designed to meet the needs of companies as well as public, research, and other organizations that develop transport and mobility technologies and services. These companies and organizations are partners in the TURMS innovation cluster and use the RDI environment.
TOWARDS INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Business Finland’s cooperation with Tampereen Raitiotie demonstrates that it is able to fund activities that differ from conventional research and development activities also through innovation clusters, for example. The potential for similar arrangements may also exist elsewhere.
The main goal of Business Finland is to make the group of organizations participating in the ecosystem more international.
RRF – 5G/6G, AI, Quantum – development environments and microelectronics
For 2023, Business Finland will open a new funding call for projects aimed at building or developing test, pilot, research, and innovation infrastructures that promote the development of 6G, AI, and quantum computing and advancing microelectronics.
The Sustainable Growth Program for Finland related to the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) aims to accelerate the development of competitiveness, investments, increased competence levels, and research, development, and innovation. It specifically focuses on promoting the green transition and the digital change.
olavi.keranen (at) businessfinland.fi