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New Brunswick Startup Brings Sensor Technology to the Smart Grid

Trispectra Innovation is an early-stage startup developing smart sensors for use with a power company’s distribution lines. These sensors allow Trispectra’s platform to instantly identify, and locate fault-creating events in near real-time, allowing utilities to better optimize their service outage response.

CEO Emmanuel Albert says the company is also developing a predictive analytics platform to help power companies be more proactive in their outage response strategy.

Born in Chennai, India and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Albert came to New Brunswick in 2011, earning his BBA from the University of New Brunswick (UNB). In 2015 he joined J. Herbert Smith Centre’s Master of Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (MTME) Program, where Trispectra began to take shape.

ONB spoke to Albert about smart grid technology, launching a business in New Brunswick, and more.

ONB: How would you define smart grid technology for a layperson?

Albert: Good question. Smart Grid is a term that gets thrown around a lot but can be hard to understand in simple terms. For our purposes, Smart Grid refers to a software layer connecting all the devices on an electrical grid, from the substation to transformers to an end user’s meter. This allows not only for communication from the utility to the device but from the device back to the utility. Data flow, information management, and system control are the essential components of smart grid technology.

ONB: What was the spark that led to the creation of Trispectra?

Albert: When Trispectra launched we were actually working on a different product. I realized I needed more technical knowledge to help with product design and development, and that’s when I joined the MTME program. It was during that time that I realized the long-term viability of our initial product was questionable, so we pivoted.

This region was hit hard by Hurricane Arthur in 2014, and the widespread power outages we faced then were still in my mind. I had been reading a lot about the energy sector, specifically the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN). We started researching that industry and saw real opportunities to improve outage management and response. That’s when we made the direction shift to focus on our smart sensor technology.

ONB: You mentioned the SGIN, which Opportunities NB is proud to have invested in. Are you involved with that network now?

Albert: We are a part of the SGIN now, yes. We’ve been working with them along with UNB’s Smart Grid Research Lab for our product development and testing.

ONB: As a new entrepreneur what’s your experience been like launching a business from New Brunswick?

Albert: The support network here for entrepreneurs is great and that’s why we decided to stay in Fredericton to launch Trispectra. On top of the MTME and SGIN the entrepreneurial community here is amazing. There are so many players working hard to support startups, like the NBIF, Pond-Deshpande Centre, and ONB.

Trispectra is part of the first cohort of companies to join the Energia Ventures accelerator, so that’s our next big focus. We have product and business development work to complete as part of that accelerator, and once we have the finished commercial prototype, and acquired an early adopter, I see us working even more closely with ONB and ACOA for help with scaling and finding new markets. We’ve connected with a number of utility companies already and we’re confident we’ll have our first early adopter later this year.

Learn more at Trispectra.ca.

Learn more about New Brunswick’s Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN) by downloading ONB’s free white paper at the button below.

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Cover image via Thomas Hawk