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Technology presented for measuring carbon in media, advertising and generative AI

Developed by a UC3M spin-off, the company Hiili


Measuring energy consumption derived from digital activity from a scientific point of view is the challenge faced by Hiili, S.L., a company recently formed and driven by two researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Ángel and Rubén Cuevas Rumín, from the Telematics Engineering Department. Specifically, they develop technological solutions that combine Internet measurement techniques and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make an accurate estimate of the energy consumption of a company's digital processes.

Presentan una tecnología para la medición de carbono en medios, en publicidad e IA generativa

From 2025, according to a European directive, companies must report on how their business model affects sustainability and how external factors, such as climate change and human rights, influence their activities. “This includes disclosing indirect emissions in their value chain, known as Scope 3, which can be difficult to measure and control. This new regulation has generated a growing need in the private and public sectors to accurately quantify the energy consumption generated by their digital activity,” says Ángel Cuevas.

Hiili, which means “carbon” in Finnish, is developing a pioneering technology that will represent a notable evolution with respect to the proofs of concept scientifically validated by the UC3M research team. This technology combines Internet measurement techniques and the development of models based on Machine Learning, a discipline in the field of AI that makes it possible to identify patterns in massive data and develop predictive analysis. All this allows for an accurate estimate of the energy consumption of the company's digital activity. Currently, they have an operational product for digital advertising and a prototype to measure the energy consumption generated by the use of AI solutions, such as Chat-GPT or Gemini language models.

“We already offer a product that works with direct measurements of energy consumption, which makes Hiili the solution that provides the most accurate measurements of energy consumption and carbon footprint in this area,” says Rubén Cuevas. In addition, with these medium- and long-term developments, they also want to contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals in the area of sustainability and climate change.

Hiili's ultimate goal is to help companies and public entities measure the carbon footprint generated by their digital activity, with a primary focus on the energy consumption that an entity's activity generates in third parties. “In addition to measuring their carbon footprint, Hiili will provide information that will allow entities to make informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint without affecting their business KPIs”, says Ángel Cuevas. 

“This collaboration has been evolving over several years. UC3M has been researching digital energy consumption since 2017 and has been a crucial partner for us in our previous company, Cavai. Together with the University, we have started this project with the goal of becoming a leading emissions data company,” says Steffen Svartberg, another of Hiili's founding partners.

To understand their business model, the researchers use a soft drink company as an example, which has a large direct energy consumption due to its own activities (such as the production of its beverages in bottling plants). However, this company also spends a lot of money on marketing activities that have no direct consumption of their own. “When we see an advertisement for the soft drink on our television or smartphone, the company is generating energy consumption that occurs on our devices, on a third party. While the measurement of direct emissions is something that has been developing in many companies and public entities in recent years, the measurement of indirect emissions is a complex technological challenge that Hiili has begun to address,” explains Rubén Cuevas.

This technology is not limited to digital advertising and AI, but is scalable and can be adapted to all digital services, including websites, apps, platforms and other digital infrastructure. This makes Hiili's solution a versatile resource for companies looking to measure, monitor and reduce the environmental impact of all digital activities.

UC3M participates in the share capital of this spin-off in order to contribute to its business development. This minority and temporary shareholding is articulated in accordance with the regulations for the creation of knowledge-based university companies. There are currently a total of 11 spin-offs in which UC3M participates, supported by the programme for the creation of and shareholding in spin-offs, located in the University's Science Park ‘s Centre for Innovation in Entrepreneurship and Artificial Intelligence (C3N-IA, in its Spanish acronym).

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