There are many words you can use to describe Ameren Corporation. Strong. Well-run. Reliable. Conservative. However, you usually don’t hear the word innovative when people reference Ameren, especially Ameren Missouri. Ameren Missouri is in the Show Me State. In my opinion, they have not been first movers on innovation and technology that other utilities around the country have undertaken.
But what I witnessed on Thursday afternoon, hopefully, is signally a change in the direction for the company. On Thursday, July 27th, CEO Warner Baxter announced the beginning of the Ameren Accelerator program. The Ameren Accelerator program is a public-private partnership with the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators, where they will assess, mentor and invest in energy technology start-up companies. (The investment made by Ameren is not being funded by Ameren’s customers but from the companies shareholders).
Ameren set out to identify start up companies doing cutting edge work in the energy industry, bring them to St. Louis’s innovation district, provide initial funding ($100,000) and surround them with experts on innovation, business development, top notch facilities and other tools to help launch their companies. More than 200 companies from 31 countries and 23 states applied for the program, and seven were chosen to be in the inaugural class.
Each of the winners was chosen based on their promising idea for the energy sector and how that idea could benefit Ameren customers in the future.
The winners are:
- /blossom (St. Louis): /blossom is a tool for businesses to connect and gather data and control their resources remotely.
- Hyperion Sensors (Toronto): Hyperion has developed specialized fiber-optic sensors used in utility substations.
- Omega Grid (Chicago): Omega Grid provides market software that removes the revenue risk of distributed generation of utilities, encourages energy investment by property owners, and allows access to lower rates for everyone.
- Rebate Bus (Madison, Wis.): Rebate Bus is a platform for utility programs to deliver instant incentives online.
- SensrTrx (St. Louis): SensrTrx is an industrial analytics application focused on using industrial data to improve uptime, performance, and reliability of manufacturing and industrial systems.
- Switched Source (East Lansing, Mich.): Switched Source provides equipment solutions for electric distribution companies that make the grid more resilient and efficient while supporting the integration of more distributed generation.
- WIFIPLUG (Leeds, U.K.): WIFIPLUG produces an app-controlled smart plug.
The energy industry is going through massive innovation, transformation, and upheaval. Seeing Missouri’s largest electric utility engaging in that process of innovation is a positive step for the company and ultimately Ameren’s customers. I encourage you to follow all these companies on social media to learn more about their ideas.
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