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Reflect, Reconnect, Celebrate

By Posted on November 30, 2015

Jean Redfield
President & CEO, NextEnergy

At home, we tape the holiday cards and letters from friends and family onto the fronts of our kitchen cabinets to surround ourselves with the news, greetings and photos of others in our lives. So during a season of reflection, reconnections and celebrations, I thought why not share news from NextEnergy’s friends with all of you so that we can all celebrate the great things happening in Michigan.

In November, four of our clients (Accio Energy, Mackinac Technology Company, UM Sakamoto’s Lab, and UM Stefanopoulou’s Lab) were just awarded $12.5 Million in ARPA-E OPEN awards, a nation-wide competitive solicitation. It was a real coup to have four awards in Michigan, totaling 10% of the total program awards made across the country. All of these awardees will also be using MATch Energy Grant funds, provided by the MEDC and the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by NextEnergy, for a portion of the cost share that these federal grants require. With additional wins from client companies Inventev, Grid Logic and REL we are proud to say we are working with seven active ARPA-e award winners.

Earlier in November, over a dozen of our clients participated in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, and three of the firms we work with (Arborlight, PicoSpray and Neuvokas) took home awards in the alternative energy, advanced transportation, and People’s Choice categories.

In October, one of the start-up companies we have served off and on for a few years (Sakti3) was acquired for $93 Million by Dyson, a major technology-based company and a customer for Sakti3’s technology. Sakti3 was also invited to participate in the first-ever White House Demo Day celebrating the important role entrepreneurship plays in America’s economy. Over the years, we have met with Sakti3’s founder and management team to help hone market strategies and explore funding options, and we have created speaking opportunities for the Sakti3 team so they could positon themselves as leaders in advanced battery technology.

In September, Crain’s Detroit Business ran a special report on women in tech, and I am proud to say that eight of the 25 women featured are connected to NextEnergy! Two were board members (Maria Thompson, Arsenal Venture Partners and Patti Glaza, Invest Detroit), two former employees (Pam Lewis, NEI and Sonali Vijayavargiya, Augment Ventures Management), three were client company executives (Ann Marie Sastry, Sakti3, Jennifer Baird, Accio Energy and Michelle Crumm, Present Value LLC {formerly Adaptive Technologies}), and I was also honored to be included among these outstanding women.

On September 9th, five companies featured connected technology demonstrations at the NextEnergy Center (General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Bosch, Qualcomm and NREL) during the inaugural V2B Mashup event—showcasing the convergence of connected technologies to support vehicle and built environment applications.

Throughout the year, three partners (Ford Motor Company, RecoveryPark and Society for Automotive Engineers) sponsored technology challenges, resulting in six small companies invited to participate in proof of concept prototype or pilot demonstrations of their technology solutions.

In its third year, NextEnergy’s commercialization training program, I-Corps Energy & Transportation, that we co-developed with the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan, was picked up and expanded to the national lab system as Lab Corps—creating opportunities for research scientists across the national labs to learn customer discovery and commercialization skills, critical to the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy goal of doubling the commercialization impact of the national lab system by 2020. Lab Corps just completed their first cohort with 14 teams, and NextEnergy and Assistant Secretary Danielson, are thrilled with the results so far.

We are also very proud to report that over the past year, 52 of NextEnergy’s small company clients filed for 142 patents, entered into 49 new licensing agreements and launched 121 new products. They won $80 Million in new business revenues, secured $82Million in investments, created 137 new jobs, and employ over 700 in total.

All in all, it has been a busy and productive year. Our start-ups continue to grow, our established firms continue to look to NextEnergy for effective ways to partner in order to mine the innovation pipeline, and national agencies recognize the value of our work and the strength of the start-up and innovation community in Michigan.

Congratulations to our client companies and partners for another great year of growing the innovation ecosystem, growing new tech-based industry sectors, and growing companies, with the accompanying investment, revenue, and job growth.

And finally, thanks to all who make our work possible (the NextEnergy team, our board of directors, and our funding stakeholders), and all who take our work and turn it into something real — the university research teams and start-ups whom we support, the small and large established firms willing to work with us and our clients to accelerate technology commercialization, and the economic development and philanthropic partners who innovate alongside us to improve the effectiveness of the innovation ecosystem.

For more information, contact Jean Redfield:


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