New York City Startup Incubator Targets Smart Cities, Clean Energy

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by | Oct 20, 2017

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A major push for energy-efficient retrofits and initiatives in New York City is getting a boost from a local startup incubator focused on smart cities, clean energy, and smart grid technology. Companies that come out of the Urban Future Lab, part of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, have over a 90% survival rate, according to the lab.

Urban Future Lab is the hub for a thriving community of entrepreneurs in NYC working on solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges pertaining to sustainable urban development, a spokesperson for the lab told Energy Manager Today. The lab’s programs include the business incubation program ACRE, the proof-of-concept center PowerBridgeNY, and the Clean Start advanced diploma to help people transition to the clean tech sector.

So far, the lab has incubated 40 companies that altogether raised $330 million in capital. Those startups include EVBox, an electric vehicle charging station manufacturer originally from the Netherlands that moved to New York to take advantage of supportive state and municipal policies, a representative for the lab says. The international energy company Engie acquired them in March. Currently EVBox is installing 3,000 electric vehicle-charging stations across New York State.

Sealed finances home upgrades such as added insulation and more efficient HVAC for guaranteed energy savings. “They just raised over $5 million from the New York Green Bank to fund these upgrades, and launched a demonstration project with National Grid to create more efficient, affordable financing options for New York homes,” the lab spokesperson says.

Opus One Solutions is a smart grid software and engineering solutions company founded in Toronto in 2011 that helps utility partners gain visibility into electricity distribution systems and better manage distributed energy resources. They received support from ACRE to access key stakeholders and, since joining the incubator, formed a partnership with Advanced MicroGrid Solutions to add advanced energy storage systems in buildings, lowering energy costs for consumers, according to an Urban Future Lab case study.

The diverse list of companies on the lab’s website also includes Tagup, which monitors industrial equipment in real time to identify system failures before they actually occur. Wavelength provides LED lighting as a service for commercial spaces through a lease-to-own model. Encycle created a patented technology that optimizes commercial and retail energy usage without affecting business operations. And Radiator Labs converts old cast-iron radiators still found in many buildings into “precision heating machines.”

A proliferation of successful startups signals growth in the sector, which is likely to continue. Recently Mayor Bill De Blasio announced efforts to mandate drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for the city’s largest buildings. De Blasio also called for a Property Assessed Clean Energy program that his office said could potentially finance $100 million worth of annual energy efficiency and clean energy projects in the city.

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