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The seven startups who came to St. Louis to participate in the Ameren Accelerator delivered a showcase of their innovative solutions and new energy technologies at a demo day last week, hosted by Ameren Corporation on the UMSL campus.
The startup founders presented their capital fundraising needs to continue to develop their products and energy solutions to guests drawn from the ranks of potential investors, business executives, academic leaders, and community representatives at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.
The event was the culmination of the 12-week Ameren Accelerator program – a public-private partnership comprising Ameren, the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators.
An Unprecedented Public-Private Partnership
Arguably the first of its kind, the energy accelerator program assesses, mentors and invests in energy-technology startup companies – all with a goal of helping Ameren meet the future energy needs of its 2.4 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers.
In addition to gaining access to subject matter experts from Ameren, the participating startups were able to draw upon the full resources of a public university system. University of Missouri System faculty and staff provided deep expertise, guidance and coaching throughout the accelerator program. Student interns offered much-needed services including research activities, promotion and office staffing.
This enhancement to corporate acceleration has provided mutual benefits for the university system, its students and the startups.
“The opportunity to teach, mentor and learn within a real-world entrepreneurial environment has been tremendously valuable for students, faculty and the startups alike,” said Dan Lauer, founding executive director, UMSL Accelerate. “This program has kept our faculty engaged and our students inspired as they delivered the kind of support necessary to help these seven energy-tech startups succeed and move to the next level. We look forward to continuing this innovative partnership and supporting future Ameren Accelerator startups.”
Seven Startups For St. Louis
The seven participating companies came from around the globe, across the region and within the St. Louis community – after competing against 200 companies from 31 different countries and 23 states to gain a place on the program.
In their presentations, many of the startups reported that they were committed to maintaining a St. Louis presence and have even hired employees for their St. Louis-based enterprises.
“The Ameren Accelerator has provided tremendous value to the participating companies and created the necessary infrastructure for ongoing engagement and success in their given markets,” said Judy Sindecuse, CEO, Capital Innovators. “It’s amazing to have Ameren as the pioneer of corporations in St. Louis conducting a program like this. The positive ripple effects from these efforts will continue to grow into the future.”
Bolstering St. Louis’ Innovation Hub
Notable advances that the companies made by participating in the energy startup accelerator program were showcased in their presentation at the Ameren Accelerator Demo Day event and are detailed below (in alphabetical order):
The accelerator helped blossom refine its idea into a realistic product with a strong business infrastructure to support it. The company will continue to grow its business in St. Louis and has hired a local developer to help build its platform.
/blossom is a way for two parties to exchange anything of value using simple digital agreements set by user-defined rules.
Through the accelerator, Hyperion established its business case, formed critical business connections, and is currently in discussions with Ameren about utilizing its products for grid modernization.
Hyperion Sensors has developed a fiber-optic sensor for use with high-voltage equipment, allowing them to become ‘intelligent.’
The accelerator enabled Omega Grid to expand its operations and hire software developers and marketing professionals. Now, the company is working closely with Ameren’s Technical Application Center to run critical pilots. In addition, Omega Grid was invited to speak at Stanford’s SLAC and Fintech conferences, furthering visibility and awareness for the Company.
Omega Grid is market software that removes the revenue risk of distributed generation of utilities, encourages energy investment by property owners and enables access to lower rates for everyone.
Rebate Bus generated new business through the accelerator program and is building seamless integrations with retailers, e-commerce vendors and utility implementers. Rebate Bus plans to establish a new office in St. Louis.
Rebate Bus is a platform for utility programs to deliver instant incentives online.
Through the Ameren Accelerator, the company closed a deal with a major customer and currently is working with Ameren on a concept to help improve the efficiency of the systems at one of Ameren’s energy centers. SensrTrx hired an experienced, full-time employee in St. Louis to help grow the business.
SensrTrx is an industrial analytics application focused on using industrial data to improve uptime, performance and reliability of manufacturing and industrial systems.
Working closely with accelerator mentors and liaisons from Ameren and the University of Missouri System, the company identified over one hundred electrical substations where its technology can improve power-grid reliability and efficiency and create significant savings by reducing or deferring upgrade expenses.
Switched Source provides equipment solutions for electric-distribution companies to make the grid more resilient and efficient, while supporting the integration of more distributed generation.
WIFIPLUG received an introduction to Apple through the Ameren Accelerator, which resulted in an Apple retail deal that provides a significant global opportunity for the business. WIFIPLUG hired its lead accelerator mentor to work from St. Louis and head U.S. sales.
The WIFIPLUG smart plug learns routines to make life easier and help consumers save money on energy bills. It is the only smart plug in the world to offer open-source API for developers and to include the ability for voice control using Siri, Alexa or Google.
Applications To Open In Spring 2018
Ameren plans to open the application process for its next Ameren Accelerator program in spring 2018.
“We are excited about the Ameren Accelerator program,” said Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation. “Engaging with entrepreneurs and innovators is consistent with our focus on delivering innovative solutions to meet our customers’ energy needs today and in the future. This forward-thinking, public-private partnership will also enable the University of Missouri System and its students to become more engaged in the energy business, as well as help drive economic development and bolster the St. Louis region’s reputation as an innovation hub.”