In May 2016, NextEnergy launched NextChallenge: Smart Cities to accelerate entrepreneurial innovation by demonstrating smart city technologies that reduce congestion and emissions, and conserve land use as a result of growing urban populations to ensure our cities are resilient and thriving.
Since then, NextChallenge garnered more than 220 inquiries that led to the submission of 57 concept papers. Twenty-three companies were invited to submit full proposals that were vetted by more than 25 industry experts, which led us to 10 superb finalists. The culmination of the program happened on December 8th, when NextEnergy hosted the NextChallenge: Smart Cities Pitch Day event, where the 10 finalists pitched compelling stats and stories about how their solutions would address some of the biggest problems facing mobility and the built environment in our urban centers.
Before I introduce our winners, let me share a few situations:
You’re in a very important meeting with a prospective client in your company meeting room. She is sharing details crucial to the success of your project. But, you are distracted. The room is so warm. No, it’s hot. No. It’s stifling and you can’t take it anymore. What did she say?! Who can I contact to turn down the heat?
Or, how about…
It’s a cold, windy evening in Detroit. It’s been a long Monday, and all that is in between you and dinner in your PJs is the shuttle to your car. However, the shuttle is nowhere to be found, and who knows when it will return. And here you are, all by yourself at this late hour while the shuttle roams around without purpose. If only there was a way to contact the shuttle driver?
Do either of these stories resonate with you? They did with me. The good news is the winners of NextChallenge: Smart Cities are tackling both of these types of scenarios head on with solutions that help change the way people and industry use energy to live and move.
The big winner of the day was Callida Energy. The New York-based company was given the demonstration grand award of up to $80,000 to demonstrate the Callida Energy App in a commercial building in Detroit. The software technology shares surveys from building occupants about their comfort levels with building managers to help them select the best temperatures for heating or cooling a building. The software is estimated to reduce HVAC energy use by at least 30 percent each year. By optimizing energy use, the technology helps to reduce a facility’s energy costs and reduce related carbon emissions while ensuring building occupants can work, play or live in comfort.
Through NextChallenge, Callida will be offered the opportunity to build relationships with new industry partners and capture metrics that will help tell their story and advance their commercialization timeline.
In addition, Detroit-basedRideHop was given a $20,000 grant award for their solution, RideHop OnDemand for Fixed Routes. The technology allows riders to notify transit drivers when they are at a stop and gives riders an estimated time for pick-up. By responding to rider demand during off-peak use times rather than adhering to the fixed routes system, RideHop estimates transit operators will be able to reduce their fleet coverage by 29 percent, thus reducing operations costs, transportation emissions and congestion, and rider wait times.
Although Callida and RideHop were the big winners of the day, all of the finalists will benefit from being a part of NextEnergy’s venture network, which offers a variety of services and opportunities to support their business growth. And, our sponsors–Wells Fargo, DTE Energy and DENSO–have an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of emerging trends to inform their decision-making process while developing relationships with technology providers from around the world that are dedicated to using their knowledge and skills to benefit our urban environment.
It’s been an exhilarating few months working with all of the solution providers and reviewers, and we are excited to launch our second smart cities challenge in Spring of 2017. As we move forward, we hope you’ll join us on the journey. Stay tuned for what’s next.
Please read the press release for more information on finalists and sponsors.