Sustainability solutions take center stage at Demo Day for Black & Veatch Cleantech Accelerator | Black & Veatch

Sustainability solutions take center stage at Demo Day for Black & Veatch Cleantech Accelerator

Seven U.S. entrepreneurs chosen to participate in the Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator recently took the stage in downtown Kansas City to showcase their business models and demonstrate how they’re poised to rewrite how the enterprise focuses on sustainability.

Powered by LaunchKC, the Cleantech Accelerator’s Demo Day drew 250 engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, students and professionals who watched as Accelerator founders presented their compelling proofs of how they’re gaining traction in the market.

“When we launched the Accelerator at Black & Veatch, we announced we were looking for the boldest, brightest entrepreneurs and startups in the cleantech space,” said Hyleme George, program director for the Cleantech Accelerator and Demo Day host. “Combining the startups’ novel technology and nimbleness with Black & Veatch’s scale and expertise can move us further and faster towards our mission of building a world of difference through innovation in sustainable infrastructure.”

View this video to learn more about the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator.

The Nov. 13 Demo Day forum provided the founders with a platform to share their business models via eight-minute pitches that spanned each company’s value proposition and market opportunity.

“It has been incredibly effective to focus on a target area with an established and forward-looking Kansas City company like Black & Veatch to be able to identify and sort new technologies that can create jobs and follow-on investment in that industry,” said Drew Solomon, competition chair of LaunchKC and senior vice president at the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, MO.

The IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator cohort entered the Demo Day fresh from a 12-week accelerator boot camp with Black & Veatch personnel and other industry experts, who assisted them in planning, designing and executing real-world projects in the clean technology space.

Cohort demos included:

AWARE VEHICLES, Kansas City, MO: Smart drones for precision agriculture and infrastructure.

P.J. Piper, president & CEO, introduced an automated, innovative mobile docking platform for drones – including launch, recovery, and data transmission and charging – combined with artificial intelligence (AI) for the real-time study of farmland – down to moisture levels in individual plants - and infrastructure often in remote locations.

BUILT ROBOTICS, San Francisco, CA: Autonomous construction machinery for efficiency, safety and faster results.

“We’re developing artificial intelligence guidance systems that will enable heavy equipment to operate autonomously,” said Jimmy Kim, Business Operations Lead. “Our focus is on building the software… the brains of the robot… to allow it to operate (heavy equipment) intelligently on job sites, and equipping them with the same capabilities and sensibilities that a human operator would have to ensure safety and efficiency.

ecoSPEARS, Altamonte Springs, FL: Green remediation of PCBs and dioxins in water, soils, and sediments.

Co-founder Serg Albino is working with NASA and Black & Veatch to clean up the environment. “Imagine a world where every human being has access to clean food, clean soil, clean air and clean water,” said Albino, a former NASA aerospace engineer. ” ecoSPEARS has an exclusive license to leverage NASA’s proprietary technology to extract, contain and destroy PCBs and other contaminants in the environment.

ELECTRIPHI, San Francisco, CA: Fleet electrification for reducing carbon emissions.

“We are on the cusp of the biggest energy transition in history. This is a multi-trillion-dollar transition from oil to electrons,” said Muffi Ghadiali, co-founder and CEO, who unveiled a fleet electrification planning tool. “If all of transportation, as we know it today, would electrify, that will mean we need to double or triple the grid capacity.

“This will disrupt the entire value chain from how energy is produced, how energy is delivered, how energy is consumed. And this is creating amazing opportunities for existing companies to reinvent themselves and for new companies, like us, to be created. The thread that ties all of this together is data, intelligence and an ecosystem of collaboration.”

EXTENSIBLE ENERGY, Berkeley, CA: Software to reduce demand charges in commercial buildings.

John Powers, Founder & CEO, has unlocked the software that makes solar energy more cost-effective for commercial building owners. It begins with making buildings smarter to better manage their use of energy through demand control.

“The U.S. generates about 2% of its electricity from solar today; in 10 years that will be 20 percent. That’s a $1 trillion opportunity,” Powers said. “It’s the largest energy infrastructure opportunity of the next decade.”

Powers closed his presentation by announcing work toward a reseller agreement with Black & Veatch to bring the Extensible Energy integrated solution, Demand X, to market. “When an innovator like Extensible Energy and an engineering powerhouse like Black & Veatch come together with a solution that addresses the biggest energy opportunity of the next decade, the result for all of us will be a cleaner world.”

INFRALYTIKS, Urbandale, IA: Artificial intelligence data analytics for sustainable infrastructure improvement.

“In the last two years more data has been created than in the entire history of mankind. However, only about half of 1 percent of all that data gets analyzed. And that’s where we come in,” said Kevin Prendergast, president. “Machine learning unlocks the value of the data and makes it work for us.”

Applying large-scale, real-time data analytics is the heartbeat of InfraLytiks, including a Black & Veatch assignment to automate the process of adding telecom lines and antennae to utility poles across the country – potentially all 180 million utility poles in the U.S. “There is huge demand for lines on the poles. This is valuable real estate,” he said. “The value for consumers, of course, is connectivity.”

NOVONUTRIENTS, Sunnyvale, CA: Converting industrial CO2 emissions into protein-rich feed.

Black & Veatch is committed to finding new technologies that will reshape the food and agriculture system as we know it. And, that’s where David Tze, CEO, enters the picture.

NovoNutrients has created a gas fermentation technology that will convert industrial carbon dioxin emissions into protein for aquafeed – the essential food in aquaculture and its farm-raised seafood – that is far more cost-effective and plentiful than aquafeed products now on the market.

With about 40 billion tons per year of greenhouse gases for NovoNutrients to “farm,” Tze said six sectors are well-suited for the NovoNutrients technology.

“These seven companies are on the front lines of the cleantech revolution,” George said. “Through our partnership with LaunchKC and by bringing the cohort together with our professionals at Black & Veatch, this program is an emphatic endorsement about how new technology can be used to solve our biggest resource and infrastructure challenges.”



Editor’s Note:

About LaunchKC: LaunchKC has evolved from a 5-year-old grants competition into a tech accelerator platform that leverages grants, as well as creates new opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs, workers and the tech ecosystem of Kansas City. Its bottom line is to attract scalable companies to create more jobs and opportunities while growing the local economy. LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council (DTC) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDCKC) both of Kansas City, Missouri.

About Black & Veatch: Black & Veatch is an employee-owned engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries by addressing the resilience and reliability of our world's most important infrastructure assets. Our revenues in 2018 were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on and on social media.


Media Contact Information:

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MIKE HURD | LaunchKC | 816-447-2136

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