Published on February 9th, 2017 | by Energy Excelerator


Building A Cleantech Startup Cohort At Energy Excelerator

February 9th, 2017 by  

You can read about why we selected each individual company below, but looking at the cohort as a whole is equally important.

The Energy Excelerator approach is to think in systems. This means we look for ways to connect the right people, companies, and solutions to accelerate our path to 100% clean energy, not just in Hawaii, but across the world.

What does our selection process look like? Well, it includes a whole lot of listening. We listen to the needs of our global and local partners — the organizations that will be deploying technologies alongside us and our companies. We listen to the market — gauging the impact policy and regulation can have on innovation, and we listen to our companies — some of the most innovative minds in energy, water, transportation, agriculture, and cybersecurity. In fact, 2 of the 12 companies in our 2017 cohort came from direct referrals from companies in our portfolio.

After all this listening, what is the end product? A diverse cohort of companies and people who together are greater than the sum of their parts.

Synergy is the only word in our language that means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviors of any of the system’s separate parts or any subassembly of the system’s parts.

— R. Buckminster Fuller

Although selecting a cohort is more of an art than a science, we also deeply value the importance of numbers, so traction, money raised, addressable market, etc. are all critical.

So, why did we select the particular companies for Cohort 2017 that we picked? Read on, and let us know if you have any questions, insights, or referrals to startups that can change the world — pre-apps are now open for Cohort 2018.

The 2017 Cohort: Demonstration Track (up to $1 million in funding, 18-month program)

Ceres Imaging — Aerial spectroscopy to help farmers efficiently allocate resources

Why do we love them? Ceres Imaging works at the intersection of data, agriculture, and water. They help farmers increase water efficiency by 5–10%, while also increasing crop yield. Ceres Imaging has analyzed water and nutrient stress on hundreds of acres of farmland and is generating millions of dollars in revenue through their business model: imaging as a service.

Go Electric — Uninterruptible power supply for microgrids

Why do we love them? Go Electric provides utilities with demand response services, and customers with uninterruptable power and peak load shaving. Their microgrid hardware and software has found great success in military applications — particularly a 3 MW microgrid in Hawaii — due to enhanced power reliability and cybersecurity, and they are now expanding into new commercial markets.

in2lytics — Database platform and high definition analytics to help solve grid challenges

Why do we love them? in2lytics combines a wide array of utility data (SCADA, renewable forecasting, AMI, synchrophasor) in a lightweight solution that stores and organizes data in one tenth the space of Oracle’s database. Its solution is already powering data for three utilities and the Marine Corps base in Hawaii. For their EEx Demonstration project, in2lytics will be building and testing their lightest and fastest analytics engine yet, with a customized business model for small utilities and cooperatives.

Kevala— Mapping the grid to enable data-driven decision making

Why do we love them? Big data visualization! Kevala is mapping the world’s utility infrastructures to help policymakers, utilities, and DER providers use real data and infrastructure dynamics to inform decision making. How will 10 EV charging stations affect a circuit? Ask Kevala. Data-driven decision-making … how refreshing.

Sighten — Software platform that supports the entire solar workflow, from lead to financing

Why do we love them? Sighten’s software does it all — and it’s easy to use. This has led to impressive traction and lowered customer acquisition costs for distributed energy resource providers. Solar PV sales teams that could only produce a few proposals per day are able to produce 100+ per day using Sighten’s platform. Long term, we see Sighten’s software as a growth engine for a variety of businesses across the new energy economy.

Varentec — Noise canceling headphones for the distribution grid

Why do we love them? Varentec provides utilities more control of a distributed electrical grid. Their hardware and software are designed to control voltage and reactive power in real time to eliminate volatility on grids with high penetrations of wind and solar. Working closely with utilities, the Energy Excelerator team has seen a big demand for this type of solution. Varentec’s backers include Bill Gates, Vinod Khosla, and 3M.

The 2017 Cohort: Go-to-market Track ($75,000 in funding, 8-month program)

HST Solar— Bringing computational firepower to solar system design

Why do we love them? HST Solar’s software allows utility-scale solar developers to run 180 billion potential designs on any given site. Why is this important? What took teams of financial analysts and engineers months takes HST Solar minutes to compute — this powerful tool will help developers across the world prospect utility-scale solar projects with greater speed and efficiency.

Momit — Upgrade that old-school AC unit with Momit Cool

Why do we love them? Momit is our first international portfolio company, hailing from Spain. They are coming to Energy Excelerator with a significant amount of traction in Europe and look to bring their smart home technologies to end users, OEMs, and utilities in the U.S. and Asia Pacific markets. Momit Cool focuses on elegant design and occupant comfort as a first priority — and, happens to save the average customer 30% on their electric bill.

Opus 12 — Converts CO2 into 16 cost-competitive chemicals and fuels

Why do we love them? Opus 12 is effectively turning waste to value, remaking CO2 into a useful product. Their electrochemical process — developed in the labs of Stanford — can turn CO2 into chemical products and fuels such as syngas, ethylene, ethanol, and methane.

Smart Yields— Fitbit for farms

Why do we love them? Small to medium-sized agricultural operations make up 85% of the farms in the U.S. and 99% globally. Smart Yields helps this sizable sector optimize plant production and labor management. It’s smart farms for the masses.

Swiftly — Seamless and connected urban mobility

Why do we love them? They have created a big data platform designed to increase the performance and reliability of public transit networks … that cities can actually afford. Swiftly’s data is 20% more accurate than existing solutions, costs up to 90% less to deploy, and results in a better user experience. Hate wondering where your bus is? So does Swiftly.

Whisker Labs — DIY energy monitoring platform

Why do we love them? Usually, if you want access to real-time energy data you have to wait for an electrician to install a special meter. Whisker Lab’s energy sensor can be installed on a home’s breaker box without an electrician, and takes non-contact measurements of voltage, current, and real power. They turn residential energy data into actionable insights, which, among other things, can be used by solar or storage providers to help right-size products for the home.

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About the Author

is a startup program dedicated to helping solve the world's energy challenges, starting in Hawaii. We help innovative companies succeed in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific with funding, strategic relationships, and a vibrant ecosystem. Our program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Office of Naval Research and operates as a project of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR).

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