Vice President, Business & Technology Development
2017 has been an exciting and fast paced year for NextEnergy. Most notably, NextEnergy has had the opportunity to support our partners by collaborating on many significant projects and events to accelerate technologies that enhance the way we live and move in a connected world.
A smarter way to light our buildings
NextEnergy, along with our partners DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (MALCTP), and the US Department of Energy, launched the Lighting Technology Energy Solutions (LiTES) program to accelerate the adoption of advanced lighting controls technology in small and medium commercial buildings. Several training sessions were facilitated by DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, and MALCTP to help contractors and installers gain the technical skills and knowledge that, combined with utility incentives, will translate to reduced energy usage and costs for their customers. In 2018, we look forward to launching the first of 100 planned pilot projects that will be deployed throughout the state of Michigan, resulting in case studies that will be shared with the public at a future date. Stay tuned for more details and training opportunities coming in the new year.
E-mobility x 3
NextEnergy completed three e-mobility connected technology demonstrations with the support of the Advance Michigan Defense Collaborative and Connected Detroit Innovates:
- By leveraging our NextEnergy’s smart home and electric vehicle charging systems, Daimler Benz, Robert Bosch, DTE Energy, Oxygen Initiative, and Coritech Services demonstrated the integration of smart electric vehicles, home appliances with smart home technology hubs, and international communications standards. This culminated in a public demonstration and brainstorming event on August 17 with the partners and the Connected Detroit Innovates team.
- EcoG (a 2017 TechStars company) integrated their electric vehicle communication module and software into our electric vehicle charging systems to demonstrate and validate their solution. This effort was supported by Ford Motor Company and Coritech Services and included a public demonstration at NextEnergy on October 18.
- NextEnergy completed NextRIDE, a fleet test and demonstration of connected electric scooters with Mahindra GenZe. NextEnergy integrated the scooters and their software communications into our network which was used by staff for trips within the City of Detroit. The data and recommendations from this project informed GenZe’s next generation software for shared use applications.
Car sharing gains momentum and gets electrified
NextEnergy also supported the completion of DENSO’s MDRIVE electric car sharing project with the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which we helped to launch in the fall of 2016. Analysis and results were presented during multiple sessions at SAE World Congress in April 2017 by DENSO and students who participated in the project.
MAVEN increased its car sharing fleet at NextEnergy from two to five vehicles, making the NextEnergy site in Detroit one of MAVEN’S top locations in the nation.
Supporting the entrepreneurs who are driving innovation
In addition to partnering with GM, Ford, Daimler Benz, Bosch, DENSO, DTE Energy and others to demonstrate new innovations, we have also had the privilege of working with some of the most innovative startup companies in the world.
With the support of our partners who participated in customer discovery and mentoring exercises, last spring, 10 entrepreneurs completed our I-Corps Energy and Transportation training program. We also hosted accelerator programs with Venture Well, and Entre-SLAM, and our President & CEO Jean Redfield continues to serve as faculty for Lab Corps, a training program designed specifically for researchers within the Department of Energy’s National Lab system.
We ended the year on a high note (despite having to compete with an early winter storm) with the NextChallenge: Smart Cities Pitch Day. NextChallenge: Smart Cities, now in its second year, is supported by sponsors Wells Fargo, DTE Energy and DENSO, and dozens of others who volunteered their time as reviewers during the vetting process. Launched in June, the challenge resulted in over 200 inquiries, 100 submissions, and ended with 10 finalists who pitched their solutions live to an audience of industry professionals and investors working in both the built environment and mobility ecosystems. The top prize, a $60K demonstration grant award went to SmartCone, with $40K in funding going to second place winner, Switched Source, and $20K going to the People’s Choice award winner Derq. You can learn more about the 10 finalists (and watch their videos) here.
We look forward to continuing many of these partnerships and projects in 2018, and are excited to launch new opportunities both locally and across the globe. We are especially grateful for our continued relationship with the national (and growing) incubator/accelerator network, which helps us to connect with a new and diverse group of innovators and partners. If you are interested in learning more about how you can partner with us, I look forward to hearing from you. Watch for some exciting announcements coming in the new year, until then have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!