From a pool of 430 applicants from around the globe, six energy-technology startups have been selected to receive $100,000 in seed capital along with 12 weeks of mentorship and resources as a part of the 2019 Ameren Accelerator, the program announced Wednesday.
The Ameren Accelerator is a public-private partnership that seeks to identify and invest in early-stage companies with cutting-edge energy technologies. The program is backed by Ameren, the St. Louis-based utility; Capital Innovators, a St. Louis-based startup accelerator; UMSL Accelerate, a University of Missouri-St. Louis entrepreneurship program; and the University of Missouri System.
“It’s really helpful for us to engage with younger and early-stage companies to see how the utilities and energy industry is changing and where it may be going in the future,” said Steve Kidwell, vice president of corporate planning at Ameren.
Improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon use and creating a more resilient energy grid are among the energy goals that the chosen companies are working to achieve, Kidwell said.
“We hope to be the seed for some of these companies to stay in St. Louis, create new jobs, and become a part of the innovation ecosystem of St. Louis and in the communities we serve beyond St. Louis,” Kidwell said.
The theme for this year’s program is “connected communities” to introduce Ameren’s customers from rural and suburban communities to the intelligent application of technology, Kidwell said. Each of the six startups has a unique and innovative approach to create better connected communities, he said.
Those startups are:
- Allumia (Seattle), which makes lighting systems designed to use energy more efficiently;
- ClearFlame (Chicago), which produces a high-torque engine to provide an alternative to diesel engines;
- Eden GeoTech (Somerville, Massachusetts), which is developing a new alternative to hydraulic fracturing for extracting oil from the ground;
- HeXalayer (Louisville, Kentucky), which makes a high-capacity lithium-ion battery designed to improve the storage capacity of rechargeable batteries;
- Ovon Tech (Manchester, UK), which makes a “smart” radiator valve;
- Shyft Power Solutions (Oakland), which makes software to help users remotely monitor and control their power sources.
The companies were selected based on the originality of how they solved problems, Kidwell said. Diversity among team members and the ability of the founders to absorb knowledge from mentors were also taken into consideration, he said.
Dan Lauer, the founding executive director of UMSL Accelerate, said the Ameren Accelerator takes a “systematic approach to innovation.”
“There’s a lot of people looking to say yes to economic development,” Lauer said. “Amazon’s not coming to St. Louis, so we have to create our own. And with Ameren leading the way, I think we can.”