Director, Business Development & Industry Partnerships
I had an opportunity last month to return to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2019) in Las Vegas (my first time representing NextEnergy) with my colleague Nathalie Osborn. This year more than 180,000 people attended the show, along with 6500 media and analysts. Whether you were able to attend or not, we thought it might be helpful for us to share our insights on the activity relevant to the spaces we are working in.
As expected, CES2019 lived up to the hype and as always, this show is not one for the faint of heart. Walking the show floor, Nathalie and I logged over 125,000 steps combined! That’s over 56 miles during our four days of attendance – a full marathon for the both of us!
While the Bell Nexus Air Taxi stole the show, below are some of the smart mobility, smart grid, energy storage, fuel cell and blockchain companies that caught our attention.
Innovators that Caught our Attention
ProLogium, a Taiwanese battery manufacturer, made a big splash with its solid-state Lithium ceramic battery (LCB) technology. As opposed to other flexible batteries based on liquids or gels that are prone to exploding or bursting, ProLogium LCBs provide a degree of ruggedness for use in applications such as wearables, industrial, and automotive. The innovative 3D battery pack provides the same output as a Tesla battery pack at half the size. This approach reduces weight which makes it the leader for smart mobility. They are in negotiations with a major European auto manufacturer.
The CES Innovation Awards Honoree in the “Smart Cities” category, FybrLynk™ is an intelligent, flexible interface able to connect any low data-rate edge device to the Fybr Smart City Platform. It enables the ability to shorten IoT solution prototype development times from months to days and the rapid deployment of a wide variety of solutions and unique use cases. FybrLynk™ enables cities to quickly and efficiently collect and analyze real-time data based on their specific needs, saving them time and money, leading the way to a more sustainable future. We loved the simple-to-install module for the dimming of street lighting, an innovative solution in the smart cities space.
The Toyota Paccar partnership is a game changer in the hydrogen-fueled vehicle space. These semi-trucks, fully loaded, will be able to travel 300 miles on a single hydrogen charge! For short haul trucking deliveries this is the perfect distance and these hydrogen trucks are more efficient and economical than their diesel counterparts. Envision distributions centers as future hydrogen fueling stations, which could remove thousands of diesel vehicles from the road leading to a cleaner environment. Toyota and Paccar unveiled 10 prototype vehicles at CES2018 and are currently testing these vehicles in California with full loads on highways and at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
We also caught up with Trillium for a demo of Trillium Secure™, an innovative blockchain-based cybersecurity platform to protect vehicular data. Protecting data privacy and addressing security concerns becomes increasingly critical as autonomous and electric vehicles and infrastructure are deployed and interconnected with our grid. We were impressed with Trillium’s security platform that included robust firewalls, multi-level encryptions, machine learning algorithms and the ability to dispatch real-time security updates across a customer’s fleet.
Innovators capturing VC Attention
As they say, follow the money and it will lead you to the disrupters innovating the market. Battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency companies secured $2.8B in venture capital funding in 2018. Information from CES found that battery storage companies secured $850M, smart grid firms $530M and energy efficiency businesses $1.5B.
The top venture capital-funded companies were ChargePoint ($240M), Smart Wires ($55M), Volta Charging ($35M), Auto Grid ($32M) and Ample ($31M). The top investors included Energy Impact Partners, E. ON, Orsted, Shell Ventures and Wind Sail Capital Group.
Smart charging of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and vehicle-to-grid companies had the largest share of VC funding, with $348M in nine deals, followed by grid optimization firms with $59M in two deals. The top funded companies were View ($1.1B), UrbanVolt ($64M), Ecobee ($61M and $36M in two deals), and Tado° brought in $50M.
CES2019 did not disappoint with the amount of innovative technologies on display and the connections we were able to make with innovators. The future of smart mobility was well represented by autonomous vehicles, electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueled semi-truck demonstrations. The smart cities booths and panels we attended provided a vision for the next-generation of financing, infrastructure and IoT solutions that will connect and shape sustainable communities and smart homes.
Both Nathalie and I would be happy to discuss our experience and insights with you. Please feel free to contact us at any time.