A couple of weeks ago, Serbian TV and news agency B92 ran a story on best innovative companies in the country. Here’s the translation from Serbian into English of the relevant parts.
They were the best innovations, they are now serious companies
Success story: a few years ago this company had the best innovation potential – today it has a strong market growth
Typhoon HIL, a company with an office in Novi Sad, Serbia, is increasing its business development not only in the regional markets but also globally.
Novi Sad-based companies Typhoon HIL and Pan-Union are successfully operating in various industries, not only the in domestic but also in the global market. What they have in common is that their first business steps were made thanks to the innovative ideas that have been awarded in the annual competition “The Best Technological Innovation in Serbia”, the winner of which is announced towards the end of December each year.
Changing people’s mindsets has always been the toughest thing to do in Serbia. However, this is exactly the aim of the competition “The Best Technological Innovation in Serbia” (Najbolja tehnološka inovacija (NTI)), which will be awarding its selected winner for the eleventh time this year. The competition was, as its organizers put it, from the very beginning conceived more as a school of high-tech entrepreneurship, than as an instrument for determining who is most successful. The success, they say, is anyway taken care of by the market. So far, 2,359 teams have participated in the competition and they have been awarded grants totaling 75 million dinars. For some of the teams, it was exactly this competition that gave them the tailwind to start their own businesses which operate not only in the domestic, but also in the global market. Our special guest in this interview are the best testimony to this.
One of the most successful start-up stories that has ever emerged from the competition “The Best Technological Innovation in Serbia” is the Typhoon HIL company, which was established in January 2010 after Typhoon HIL team’s victory at the 2009 competition with their innovation called “a digital simulator”.
This innovation represents a device for testing control software (e.g. firmware) of power electronics inverters. An interdisciplinary group of experts from the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the University of Novi Sad, consisting of engineers and holders of M.Sci. and PhD degrees, manufactured the fastest real-time digital simulator which was, at the time when it was introduced, in 2009, more than 50 times faster than any other simulator in the market. This simulator eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure in the development cycle of smart power electronics devices and their software, thus reducing initial investment, risk and the time necessary to develop and test new power electronics products.
Clients are companies and universities alike
As experts from Typhoon HIL have explained it to us, software-controlled power electronic devices have a very wide range of applications in all industrial fields, ranging from renewable energy sources, all the way to mass application in motor drives. Today there is almost no electrical drive without power electronics devices, which is a very telling statement of the size of the target market.
“With hindsight, I can freely say that it is very questionable if the company Typhoon HIL would exist today if it had not been for the preparatory phase for the competition “The Best Technological Innovation” and the competition itself in 2009. Vocational training in the skills of innovative business management, which the then inexperienced Typhoon HIL team had to go through during the competition, proved to be crucial from the organizational point of view, while the unexpected victory instilled us with confidence that has significantly contributed to the results we are now achieving, “said Nikola Čelanović, the CEO and a co-founder of the company Typhoon HIL, to “Biznis i finansije” (Business and Finances, the Serbian magazine where this article was originally published).
This company’s innovations have found practical application in automated testing of control software of power converters in solar power plants and wind farms, automated testing of uninterruptible power supplies and of electrical drives, all of which, before the unveiling of Typhoon HIL’s products, was only possible in expensive and well-equipped laboratories.
“Product development is never completed, and we made our first sales as early as in 2009. After winning the competition, the faith of the young Typhoon HIL team in their abilities allowed them to bring the product to the market in an unbelievably short period of time: the product that has been maintaining its technological edge over the competition to this very day,” emphasized the CEO.
Čelanović told us that companies engaged in market surveys estimate that the current market in HIL (Hardware in the Loop) system testing is worth approximately 500 million euros annually. “Competition in the market is extremely fierce, while our goal is to become one of its leading companies. What we find particularly encouraging is that our products primarily delight engineers, who use them in their daily work, but they also delight managers, who have recognized the excellence of our technology which allows them to make significant savings through accelerating the development of their products and services”, says our interviewee.
The company currently exports its products to the markets of North America, Europe and Asia, and it does so in two market segments, which the company considers equally important: industry, on the one hand, and universities which train future professionals in the field of power electronics, on the other. The users of company’s products are world leaders in their fields, such as Schneider Electric, General Electric, ABB, Siemens, LSIS, Woodward, etc.
“What makes us particularly proud is that future generations of experts at the University of Texas in Dallas and Arlington, the University of North Carolina, the University of Trieste, EPFL in Lausanne, just to mention some of them, are educating their students and conducting their research using our devices,” noted Čelanović.
Typhoon HIL has, over the past six years, made an extraordinary journey from creating an innovation, over winning the competition “The Best Technological Innovation in Serbia”, all the way to a modern company which it is now, with branch offices in Novi Sad, Zurich and Boston, as well as with a growing network of distributors and partner companies in Asia.
“Our goal is to grow and strengthen the company and increase our market share. At the moment, our customers are mostly companies in the field of renewable energy and the world’s leading universities. With the trend of electrification of cars, we expect a stronger penetration of Typhoon HIL’s products in the automotive industry,” Nikola Čelanović predicted.
About the source: B92.net has been one of the leading Serbian internet site since 1996. At present the average number of page views per day is almost 3 million, while the average number of daily visitors (unique visitors) peaks at more than 340 thousand. (Source: Google Analytics). This data refers only to www.b92.net, and it does not include page views and visits through B92 Mobile apps. The B92 company and its daughter companies have won a number of prestigious international awards for journalistic courage and advocacy of human rights.