Meet the 11 startups accelerating change at VERGE Hawaii

Steph Spiers, co-founder and CEO of Solstice Power, pitches her vision of a world in which solar energy is accessible to all, winning one of the VERGE Accelerate competitions at VERGE Hawaii in 2017.
Steph Spiers, co-founder and CEO of Solstice Power, pitches her vision of a world in which solar energy is accessible to all, winning one of the VERGE Accelerate competitions at VERGE Hawaii in 2017.

One great joy of producing VERGE events is not only showcasing the big companies and progressive cities at the forefront of the clean economy, but also the startups — the new kids on the block, who are developing the greatest solutions you haven’t heard of yet.

Our VERGE Accelerate program, a cornerstone of VERGE events since their inception, is one way we do this — giving select entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch from our main stage to a live and global online audience of potential partners and investors.

Over 120 startups have gone through the program since its launch in 2012, coming away with new investors, corporate partners for pilot projects and even Amory Lovins on their advisory board.

"We got the attention of an international investor and partner and now have the opportunity to massively scale our global solar operations," said Sandra Kwak, founder and CEO of 10Power, who won the pitch competition at VERGE 15 and was a finalist at VERGE Hawaii in 2016. "Our energy access initiatives in the Caribbean region are happening faster than planned — all thanks to VERGE Accelerate." 

Numerous companies, such as Geli, pitched when they were still in the early rounds of raising capital and are now at over $15 million in funding.

Solutions to watch

This week, we are excited to announce the 11 startups selected for the VERGE Accelerate cohort that will be featured at VERGE Hawaii this June.

Here's an overview of those companies, and a window of insight into the solutions we’ll be hearing more about in their pitches in Honolulu. 

1. Aerial Power, a London-based startup, is the first company to develop a fully automated drone-based method for cleaning solar panels, SolarBrush. Its specially adapted Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an efficient, low-maintenance and environmentally friendly way of maintaining solar farm efficiency. Its goal? To raise the efficiency of solar power production globally.

2. Allume Energy, founded by two graduates from the University of Melbourne, began with the mission to extend the benefits of solar to those who previously had no access, starting with rural indigenous communities. They have enabled solar access via landlord-tenant power purchase agreements, targeting tenants experiencing financial stress, and are extending into commercial markets.

3. Ceres Imaging touts itself as a "data-as-a-service" company: deploying low-flying planes to capture aerial imagery that helps growers optimize their water and fertilizer application. Its high-resolution multispectral images detect water, fertilizer, pest and disease issues weeks before the naked eye, and are interpreted using highly advanced image processing and crop modeling techniques. 

4. Hover Energy is working to bring wind power straight to customers through its low-cost, aerodynamic Hover Array System, designed to operate safely in urban areas. Its advanced technology offers unmatched efficiencies in the rooftop wind market, producing a multiple of the power per square foot of any other rooftop renewable energy solution, including solar.

5. NETenergy, based in Chicago, has created a thermal battery that works much like an electrical battery, except it stores thermal energy. Its goal is to help building owners save 30 percent or more on their energy usage while reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent.

6. Shifted Energy is developing and deploying integrated solutions that retrofit electric water heaters into grid-interactive energy storage devices, transforming them into aggregated, flexible load assets. The goal? Enabling greater integration of renewables via real-time demand response and increased energy storage capacity.

7. Signol is on a mission to tackle rising CO2 emissions — starting with the airline industry. Using behavioral science to frame and deliver information in real-time to decision makers, its software analyzes airline captains’ fuel consumption while in flight and produces incentives to reach fuel-efficiency targets.

8. Solar Analytics, an Australian-based startup, is working to maximize the value home owners get from their solar power systems. Their technology analyzes energy generation, local weather conditions and on-site energy consumption data to provide real-time insights and accurate alerts into PV system performance and energy use.

9. Transit X is "un-paving the way to go car-free" with its fully automated, 100 percent solar powered transportation network of flying solar Pods. Its vision? A world in which congestion and pollution in cities is solved by nonstop, resilient, all-weather mobility service that is quiet, safe and integrates into existing urban infrastructure.

10. VH Hydroponics is a veteran-owned agricultural technology company based in Anchorage, Alaska which designs and builds mobile, modular vertical farming systems. Its goal is to address the negative impacts of industrial agriculture while increasing food security by giving everyone everywhere the ability to grow fresh food anytime. 

11. Waste to Energy Generating sees generating electricity from low-potential heat energy as the biggest sleeping giant of the world wide energy market. Their industrial Waste to Energy Plants produce electricity from ultralow potential waste heat while generating clean drinking water from the atmosphere, with appliability across markets ranging from geothermal and solar to industrial and marine fleets.

Who wins will be up to you — the in-person and online audience — via a text-to-vote mechanism. You’ll have a chance to cast your votes while Industry Experts, including senior leaders from NREL, the Ulupono Initiative, Elemental Excelerator and the military offer commentary about the pitches live on stage.

More information is available online about VERGE Hawaii and the event program, including VERGE Accelerate, which will take place on the main stage Tuesday and Wednesday. We hope to see you there, or tuned in online.