VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 26, 2019

Vermont Business Accelerator Accel-VT
Announces Energy 2019 Winners
BURLINGTON, VT – Accel-VT, a business accelerator providing support, mentorship, and access to capital for early stage companies committed to climate economy innovation, announced the winners of the latest Accel-VT Energy business cohort last week at Main Street Landing in Burlington, VT. 

Onboard Data of Massachusetts received $25,000 in prize money after three months of intense work and competition while EV Match of California and Go Together of Washington, DC won a paid Tier 3 pilot project to demonstrate their technologies with Burlington Electric Department (BED), and EV Match of California won a paid Tier 3 pilot project to demonstrate their technology with Green Mountain Power (GMP). DCC of Quebec won a third paid pilot project with Burlington Electric Department (BED).

All seven cohort companies took away meaningful relationships with 41 Vermont energy industry representatives, entrepreneurs and investors that acted as mentors during the program, as well as more refined plans for the future success of their businesses.

Cohort members decided the $25,000 winner through a peer-ranking system using a method developed by Village Capital, a national business accelerator model designed for high-growth ventures solving major societal problems and looking to raise money from investors.

For the Tier 3 pilot projects, BED and GMP chose the respective winners.

Tier 3 of Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard requires distribution utilities to acquire fossil fuel savings from energy transformation projects (projects that reduce fossil fuel consumed by their customers in the heating and transportation sectors).

Accel-VT is managed by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, a nonprofit organization working to improve sustainable economic development in Vermont. Geoff Robertson, business assistance director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, was impressed by the effort and innovation each of the cohort companies put into the program.

“Bringing so many entrepreneurs together focused on the same goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the heating and transportation sectors has been inspiring,” said Robertson. “Having this group bring their knowledge and ideas to Vermont will help us further our state as a leader in developing and implementing climate solutions.”

Over three months, 14 Accel-VT Energy entrepreneurs worked together in person at Burlington Electric Department’s Spark Space for three one-week sprints in Vermont as well as remotely to improve their business plans, network with industry leaders, meet with potential customers, and fast track their way to securing financial investments so they can grow their business opportunities in Vermont and beyond.

Accel-VT Energy 2019 winner Onboard Data plans to use the $25,000 prize money to continue to develop its software product and serve clients in Vermont and greater New England. Onboard provides analytics software to uncover hidden energy, maintenance and comfort problems in commercial buildings. These problems are a significant reason commercial buildings emit more harmful emissions than transportation or industry. “We’re thankful to Vermont, the program managers and sponsors of Accel-VT, and the cohort of entrepreneurs that supported us this summer,” said Ryan Holy, CEO and Co-Founder of Onboard. “We absolutely enjoyed our time in Burlington. We’ll be here frequently to serve clients and, if possible, establish a remote presence in this great city!”

Accel-VT Energy 2019 Graduating Cohort Companies:
Onboard Data is an open and interoperable data management platform for building portfolios. Onboard aggregates and standardizes energy, maintenance, comfort and occupancy data across the portfolio. Clients can then leverage this data to power smart solutions for tenants and employees with speed and scale. Onboard employs machine-learning to aggregate and standardize building data with greater speed and scale than existing solutions. www.onboarddata.io/  Massachusetts    Accel-VT Energy 2019 Winner

EVmatch is a mobile platform that allows EV drivers to find and reserve charging stations anywhere they go by enabling increased access to underutilized private charging stations. EVmatch reduces the stress in locating an available charger and immediately grows the public charging network by making private charging stations available to the public. www.evmatch.com/   California     Burlington Electric Department Tier 3 Pilot Project Winner and Green Mountain Power Tier 3 Pilot Project Winner

Go Together is a SaaS platform for people to get where they need to go through their trusted networks using apps to do end to end trip planning to meet, collaborate and schedule carpools, biking, walking, transit, and more. Go Together leverages technology and the power of trusted communities to innovate the way people get where they need and want to go whether it’s to and from school, to practice, a game or to vote. gotogether.today/home/  Washington, D.C.   Burlington Electric Department Tier 3 Pilot Project Winner

DCC is a hardware company supporting residential electric vehicle charging installations that are otherwise unattainable because of a limited power supply. With our device, EV owners now have a reliable solution if their panels are at full capacity or if they reside in a multi-unit dwelling. dccelectric.com   Quebec   Burlington Electric Department Pilot Project Winner

iSun Energy develops robust, esthetic, smart and easy to install solar carport and canopy systems with proprietary hardware and software systems. iSun offers an attractive structure delivering shading and protection, while also feeding the local grid with renewable solar energy, and the ability to mate with smart energy management systems, such as EV charging. isunenergy.com/en/ Vermont

The Somerville Electric Vehicle Company provides charging solutions for micro-mobility applications (e-scooters, e-bicycles, e-mopeds) by using swappable batteries paired with a battery subscription service, so that users never have to wait to charge. Somerville EV Co charges and stores batteries in self-serve swap-and-go Battery Swap Kiosks. www.som-ev.com/  Massachusetts

United Aircraft Technologies developed a robust Interconnecting Clamp (ICC) for electrical wire management that reduces weight, improves safety, and simplifies maintenance through the use of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence. This patent pending ICC is unique because it avoids metallic installation hardware while greatly simplifying installation complexity, reducing installer fatigue, and minimizing associated repetitive strain injury. www.uairtek.com/  New York

Partners and Sponsors of Accel-VT Energy 2019:
Burlington Electric Department, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Electric Power Company, VLITE, Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, Vermont State Employees Credit Union, Green Mountain Power, Vermont Electric Co-op, Vermont Gas, Stowe Electric, Washington Electric Co-op, Bourne’s Energy, Flexible Capital Fund, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, and Main Street Landing.

About Accel-VT – A Climate Economy Business Accelerator
Accel-VT is a business accelerator providing startup support, mentorship, and access to capital for climate economy entrepreneurs who want to establish their business here in Vermont. In future cohorts, Accel-VT may address other climate related innovation opportunities, including green building, sensor technologies, data management, and resource recycling. The resiliency of working lands businesses, as well as some segments of manufacturing, transportation planning, and community development, are also components of the climate economy. accelvt.com

About Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the sustainable development of Vermont’s economy. VSJF provides business assistance, network development, strategic planning, and value chain facilitation in agriculture and food system, forest product, waste management, renewable energy, and environmental technology sectors. The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund was created by the Vermont Legislature in 1995 to partner with state government, private sector businesses, and nonprofits to build a thriving economic, social, and ecological future for Vermont. www.vsjf.org

VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 12, 2019

University of Vermont Awards SPARK-VT Grants
The University of Vermont has awarded SPARK-VT grants of $50,000 to three faculty research teams to help them commercialize their work and move it a step closer to the marketplace.

The Ventalect Critical care and pulmonary specialist Prema Menon, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine, won for a tool called Ventalect that allows ICU patients with acute respiratory failure on mechanical ventilation to communicate, even though they are unable to talk.

Menon and her team worked with students from UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to develop the prototype – a tablet enabled with Menon’s algorithm and two-button controller – designed to serve the estimated 800,000 patients in the U.S. who are awake and need to be able to participate in their own treatment decision-making. “The device is novel, because it is based on experiences of patients, family members, and clinicians and it allows for patients to initiate communication independently,” Menon said.

Microslot Writer
Physics professor Randall Headrick won for the Microslot Writer, a tool that can apply a liquid solution containing molecules that act as semiconductors to a flat surface. When the liquid evaporates, the semiconductors are left behind as a thin film of large grain crystals. The process is a simpler, cheaper and more efficient way of printing semiconductors than traditional methods.

While the technology could have many uses, Headrick’s SPARK-VT application focused on using the device to apply semiconductors that function as solar panels to a flat surface. Headrick has previously patented a “pen-writer” system that applies the crystals in a line. The new technology is a writing “head” that allows them to be rolled on a surface. “The core idea is to get as close as possible to be able to paint solar panels on the side of a house,” Headrick said. Headrick will use the SPARK-VT award to create a prototype Microslot Writer specially geared to producing solar panels. He plans to work with industry partners, including Omega Optical in Brattleboro Vt., to develop the technology. The thin film solar market is a multi-billion market, Headrick said.

Augmented reality system for ground-penetrating radar
Mechanical engineering professor Dryver Huston and associate electrical engineering professor Tian Xia won for further development of their “cognitive ground penetrating radar” system. The team has won two previous SPARK-VT awards for the technology, which can peer up to 12 feet underground to detect buried infrastructure at a construction site, giving developers and planners a tool that could vastly speed the permit approval process, which can take two years in a major city.

The new award will be used to further develop the augmented reality portion of the project – which converts in real time a variety of inputs, including radar scans, into high quality images of underground objects that a non-specialist on- or off-site can read and understand. The technology earned a Smart 50 Award from U.S. Ignite and other funders and was featured at the National Smart Cities Conference in 2018.

Shark Tank comes to the academy
UVM’s annual SPARK-VT competition is like a version of the reality show Shark Tank taylored to a university setting. Faculty pitch their commercialization ideas to a panel of experts, who challenge them with an array of tough questions, then deliberate in private before announcing the winning teams.

“Congratulations to all three teams for submitting high quality entries with great potential,” said Richard Galbraith, UVM’s vice president for research. “All three entries show a high degree of sophistication, both in their underlying science that drives the innovation and in faculty’s grasp of the realities of the marketplace.”

SPARK-VT is designed to help bridge the divide between research and the marketplace by bringing promising researchers together with business innovators and biotech leaders. The program offers frequent workshops to faculty interested in commercializing their research on topics ranging from intellectual property to market analysis to the art of the pitch. A select group of faculty who’ve submitted SPARK-VT proposals are invited to make presentations to a panel of 12 leaders from biotech, pharmaceutical, business, engineering, finance and legal fields. Panel members ask questions, challenge presenters on the details of their plans and offer suggestions. The $50,000 seed funding comes from UVM’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Office of the Provost.

Since its launch in 2012, SPARK-VT has funded 21 faculty proposals. It has spawned three start-up companies and has been a factor in faculty applying for 90 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants from the federal government, a major uptick over previous years. Over a quarter of the applications were funded, a high rate of success.