Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way – A water purification system built by Woburn tech startup has been installed at a pharmaceutical company in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of ) JOSEPH LYNCH_ONE DEGREE NORTH PHOTOGRAPHY (SINGAPORE)

Dry conditions in New England have worsened throughout the year, with 57 percent of Massachusetts now in a severe drought. The lack of water is even more acute in the south-west – it is the worst drought in 1,200 years.

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

Anthropogenic climate change is making droughts more frequent and more severe as higher temperatures accelerate evaporation rates and reduce snowfall. And it’s bringing renewed attention to climate tech startups seeking to solve problems related to the water supply.

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, a 10-year-old company based in a Woburn office park off Route 128, has developed an energy-efficient technology to treat and filter water that is based on the natural cycle of evaporation and precipitation. The company’s equipment is already in use at soda plants for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, semiconductor manufacturing sites for Micron, and pharmaceutical plants for Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

CEO Anurag Bajpayee and CEO Prakash Govindan met as graduate students at MIT in 2008.

But the couple did not bond immediately. Bajpayee was appointed as Govindan’s international student mentor as both had grown up in India. But after an awkward breakfast failed to connect. It wasn’t until they were both working on their PhDs at the Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Lab that they hit it off and found a shared interest in water purification challenges.

Govindan, who grew up in Chennai, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, said water was a deeply personal issue. “Chennai has some of the most serious water problems,” he said. “I have seen the importance of water in my life.

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The founders of the Woburn water tech startup, CEO Prakash Govindan and CEO Anurag Bajpayee, met as graduate students at MIT. MATTHEW GUILLORY

It was also already a hot field 15 years ago when the growing fracking industry was consuming huge amounts of water and looking for cheaper treatment technologies.

Beyond their personal interest, “to find your way through high school, you go where the interest is and where the funding is,” Bajpayee said.

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

In nature, the sun shines on the oceans and causes evaporation. Different bands of air temperature and concentrations of water – known as gradients – cause moisture to rise and form clouds and then rain. (the company) is developing technology that mimics the cycles that rely on tall towers that can be placed near factories to clean wastewater.

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“Nature has the advantage that the entire surface area of ​​the oceans is freely accessible and a free source of energy from the sun,” explains Govindan. “We need to engineer this into a compact, highly efficient and energy-efficient industrial unit.”

Has annual sales of over $100 million and is profitable, the co-founders said. The company employs about 500 people worldwide and is expanding in Boston and elsewhere.

The company and rival water-tech start-ups are benefiting from a trend toward decentralization of water treatment, said venture capitalist Peter Yolles of Echo River Capital. Yolles, who has not invested in , said the old model of huge municipal facilities cannot handle the runoff from manufacturing plants that produce a wide range of pollutants.

“New chemicals from biopharmaceuticals, for example, cannot be processed or even identified by older facilities,” Yolles said. “This leads to small plants built on the site where the water is used, which can recycle and treat what is produced on site.”

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The CHIPS Act, which was signed into law on Tuesday by President Biden, was supposed to spur even faster growth on the . The law subsidizes semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, and customers including Micron and Global Foundries all announced expansion plans as a result of its passage.

“We brought our technology to Taiwan and Singapore, where chips were made,” Govindan said. “Now it’s like we’re importing back into the United States.”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ud elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. A consortium of eight of the leading global utility companies has selected Simple Energy as one of the 12 companies for a new, first-of-its-kind innovation program. The utilities – AusNet Services, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), ESB Ireland (Electricity Supply Board), EDP (Energias de Portugal), innogy SE, Origin Energy, Singapore Power and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) – created the program, called Free Electrons, to identify companies to scale around the world through pilot programs and investments.

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

Free Electrons management works with later-stage startups that have experienced promising market traction and recruits companies it believes can drive next-generation ideas in clean energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, digitization and on-demand customer service. The 12 participants were selected from among 450 applicants.

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The program provides curated support and access to a network of utility giants with more than 70 million customers in both electricity and gas in 40 countries. The ultimate goal: co-creation of the energy of the future.

“The traditional utility business model is changing rapidly, and it’s happening all over the world,” said Simple Energy CEO Yoav Lurie. “Our software-as-a-service model allows any utility to form deeper relationships with their customers, enabling them to offer dynamic new programs and allowing them to create new revenue streams – which will also save energy.

Simple Energy will work closely with local accelerators, utilities, mentors and other resources to fuel our growth. The program comprises three separate weeks of ‘customer adoption’ modules in Silicon Valley, Lisbon/Dublin and Singapore; ongoing conversations between start-ups and utilities to start pilot projects, investments and other commercial relationships; and an ongoing mentoring program.

“Simple Energy has proven that it can motivate customers to take energy-saving actions and build utility brand equity at the same time,” said Florian Kolb, CEO of innogy New Ventures LLC, the promoters of Free Electrons. “We believe their platform of branded marketplaces is translatable to markets outside the US and enables new utility business models around the world. We look forward to exploring and creating these concrete opportunities over the course of our program as well as with our other 11 finalists.”

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The Free Electrons program begins on April 30 and runs for 12 weeks. It culminates in a final module that focuses on contracting pilot projects between startups and utilities. Download the e-book. DOWNLOAD Organizations invest enormous resources to strengthen their capabilities and innovation capacity, but they are often disappointed with the results. Consider the recent case of a global bank that publicly committed to increasing the quantity, speed and quality of innovative ideas in its pipeline. A key element of this initiative was the launch of a company-wide “hackathon” that engaged thousands of employees in spontaneous idea generation, shaping and evaluation, facilitated by external consultants and an expensive piece of idea management software. Employees were excited about the opportunity to contribute their ideas, and managers had high expectations that it would stimulate a vibrant “innovation culture.”

A year later, not one of the ideas had been implemented, and the culture, instead of being more committed to innovation, was more cynical about it. When the organization assessed what went wrong, it found a long list of reasons. Everyone had their own interpretation of what an “innovative idea” looked like, leading to a diverse mix of proposals, many of which were incongruent with what the leadership team really wanted.

“Organizations invest enormous resources to strengthen their capabilities and innovation capabilities, but they are often disappointed with the results.”

Energy-saving Innovations: Boston Startups Leading The Way

Another challenge stemmed from a lack of defined standards for innovation. For example, there was no clear definition of what constituted a “good idea” or even a “complete idea”, making it difficult to compare one idea with another. Other issues were deeper, such as the lack of clarity about what strategic priorities should be used to evaluate submitted ideas or what the governance model would be for conducting these evaluations. Most fundamental of all were unanswered questions related to resource allocation.

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How would the organization fund priority ideas? Who would work on them? And what would the organization have to stop doing to make this possible?

There are comparable failure modes in other common business innovation initiatives (see Figure 1). Incubators or new growth teams stumble because the connection to strategy is unclear, or because the process, metrics, funding mechanisms and people involved are more suited to the short-term needs of the core business than to longer-term, more transformative opportunities. Corporate venture capital or innovation funds disappoint because managers, in the absence of appropriate goals and objectives for success, push them for short-term financial results. Innovation training or coaching programs leave participants with new skills and tools that they cannot implement due to management resistance or lack of integration with broader business processes. Lean startup sprints hit a wall when promising ideas try to transition to a business unit (BU) where they can be resourced and scaled. The appointment of a “chief innovation officer” to the business center (outside of profit and loss) leads to organizational confusion about where the decision-making power actually sits to resource innovation.

The problem is not that these interventions are inherently bad ideas. On the contrary, each one can

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