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Spirit of 1776

Stepping up the pace of power change

EDITOR’S NOTE: At the recent annual meeting of the Edison Electric Institute, EEI announced it was partnering with startup 1776 to jumpstart a greater pace of innovation at electric utilities and across the energy economy. To learn more about 1776, the Energy Times invited Evan Burfield, co-founder, to introduce his startup to our readers.

Innovation in energy has been a central focus for my startup-supporting company since launching in 2013 because it powers nearly every other industry and must move forward with the times. Now we’re joining forces with long-established organizations that have the institutional knowledge to drive their new ideas forward.

At 1776, we’ve spent the last three years globe-trekking to find and fund promising entrepreneurs in all the sectors critical to people and places -- from energy to health care to education to agriculture. If an entrepreneur has a brilliant concept that can improve one of those basic needs, we want to give her a boost.

In recent years as disruptive technologies have started to change the way we do business in dramatic fashion, some legacy companies have begun to shrivel. They shouldn’t. Their infrastructures are crucial to the distribution and implementation of new products and services.

Evan Burfield /// 1776

And that’s why 1776 is teaming up with the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute for Electric Innovation: Together, we will accelerate the pace of innovation in energy.

Groups like EEI have a wealth of institutional knowledge about the energy industry and the major transitions it has undergone in the last several decades. New innovators can benefit tremendously from their foundations and should use their lessons and their channels to bring to market their cutting-edge technologies.

Together, we will focus on a couple of key themes: building smarter energy infrastructure, providing clean energy and creating the energy solutions customers need and want to see.

EEI and the electric power companies it works with can pair with the startups developing technologies to achieve those goals to make it easier for these innovators to find potential customers and ways to test their ideas. Once validated, those companies and the network that EEI provides can help those startups scale their ideas and deliver them globally.

In turn, the big, established electric power companies know there is opportunity for updates, improvements, changes and advancements. They can pose the problems they’re hoping to solve to the energy entrepreneurs in the 1776 network in order to find the most innovative solutions.

Through our partnership, we can take this pragmatic approach to transforming the energy industry, pairing innovators who have excellent ideas with those who have the skills and expertise to tweak and deliver them.

Already, 1776 has invested in several promising energy startups: Aquicore, energy efficiency platform that provides real-time electricity, water, and gas analytics to decision-makers at major properties; Evercharge, an all-in-one, efficient charging station for every kind of vehicle; PlugSurfing, an app and charging key that allows drivers with electric cars to charge at any station throughout Europe; and RadiatorLabs, a retrofit for old radiators that makes them energy efficient and economically beneficial.

Through our global startup scouting competition, Challenge Cup, we found energy companies that are producing breakthrough platforms to track car exhaust and home energy use to make consumers aware of their output. We met another that uses drone to measure air quality. Another has a brand new and safe way to capture carbon dioxide directly from the air efficiently.

We can’t wait to start connecting these startups and a wide array of others in this space to the companies EEI supports, so that we can raise the quality and efficiency of energy production throughout the world.


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