RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – One startup has designed a food management platform to curb waste and combat hunger. Another has developed technology to reduce water consumption through evaporative cooling. And yet another provides software for utilities to perform real-time water quality monitoring.

These are among the innovative solutions to be honed and tested as part of the Joules Accelerator program.

In total, eight early-stage companies from around the country will be taking part, visiting Charlotte and the Research Triangle from March 20-22. It’s the accelerator’s sixth year running, but the first time it has partnered with the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC), a consortium of the Research Triangle’s government, academia, and industry leaders.

The goal: to launch a “cleantech corridor” that will tap into the strengths of the region between Charlotte and the Research Triangle to promote local expansion, relocation and project deployment for emerging technology companies.

Bob Irvin, Joules Accelerator’s executive director. Source: LinkedIn.

“Our portfolio focus has broadened from legacy grid infrastructure to tech solutions that mitigate water and food waste, improve urban walkability, and turn electric car fleets into distributed power plants, to name a few examples” said Bob Irvin, Joules Accelerator’s executive director, said in a statement. “We’re targeting the sectors with solutions our stakeholders are looking for, and that net has widened as smart cities and sustainability have become more mainstream.”

A joint venture

The joint venture is bolstered by a three-year, $1.5 million matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program and North Carolina’s business community.

The startup cohort will be introduced to the two communities through networking events and one-on-one meetings with utilities, government staff, business executives and industry experts.

Charlotte’s assets include Duke Energy, one of the largest electric utilities in the country, while the Triangle is home to a smart grid cluster of over 1,800 companies and organizations.

Public sessions with the cohort companies include an opening reception on March 20 at the Duke Energy Innovation Center at Optimist Hall in Charlotte. Guest speakers at the event include Brian Savoy, Duke’s senior vice president for business transformation and technology, and Mariela Alfonzo, CEO of State of Place, a selectee from the 2018 accelerator program that landed three contracts in North Carolina last year.

The cohort will then travel to the Research Triangle for meetings and an open-to-the-public networking event at Junction West in downtown Raleigh’s startup-centric warehouse district on March 21.

Since its 2013 founding, the accelerator has supported the creation of 90 jobs, $15 million in investment and multiple pilot projects. Joules Accelerator is a nonprofit organization funded by Duke Energy the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Meet the cohort

2019 cohort members and headquarter locations:

  • San Francisco, CA – AMPLY Power provides “charging-as-a-service” to de-risk the process of deploying EV fleet charging infrastructure.
  • Charlotte, NC – Ardent Edge uses low-cost, off-the-shelf components to reduce the cost of energy storage systems.
  • Atlanta, GA – Goodr is a sustainable surplus food management platform, which leverages technology to reduce food waste and combat hunger.
  • Cambridge, MA – Infinite Cooling has developed a technology which reduces water consumption by evaporative cooling by over 20% and monetizes that water with purchasing agreements.
  • Pittsburgh, PA – RoadBotics is an infrastructure technology company, utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence to revolutionize how governments make data-driven pavement management decisions.
  • Chicago, IL – Switched Source manufactures a grid management hardware solution that allows neighboring power lines to be operated as a networked platform.
  • Austin, TX – Varuna IoT provides hardware and software for utilities to perform real-time water quality monitoring across a region.
  • San Francisco, CA – WeaveGrid develops software-based solutions for integrating electric vehicle charging, while enabling grid operators to utilize EV batteries as dynamic distributed resource.