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New Accelerator to Help New Brunswick Lead in Cybersecurity and Smart Grid

[This post originally appeared in December 2016. It is being republished today due to Dr Dhirendra Shukla’s Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award win last Thursday. The Energia Ventures accelerator is an example of Dr Shukla’s many efforts to advance New Brunswick entrepreneurship.]

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) has already been recognized as the most entrepreneurial post-secondary institution in Canada. Now, through its J. Herbert Smith Technology Management & Entrepreneurship Centre (TME), the University is establishing a new accelerator focused on the energy/smart grid, clean tech, and cybersecurity sectors.

Based in Fredericton, Energia Ventures will support startups and R&D collaboration in its focus sectors. Funding for the accelerator will come from public, private, and non-profit sectors, via the Federal Government ACOA Business Development Program, UNB itself, MITACS, and Siemens Canada.

Opportunities NB (ONB) spoke to Dr Dhirendra Shukla, TME Chair, to learn more about this exciting initiative.

ONB: You’re a huge champion of both entrepreneurship and New Brunswick in general. Tell us about your excitement level around this accelerator. 

Shukla: It’s high. It has a lot of people excited, really. We have strong research competencies via our corporate anchor Siemens, and we have more corporate partners to announce very soon. We’re able to build an entrepreneurship component on top of that research; it’s a very exciting new model. We are confident this will help attract more startups to this region because of that instant credibility.

It’s also exciting to bring Ed Rodriguez in as Energia’s Managing Director. Ed is an absolute rock star; the credibility and passion he brings to the table is incredible.

Why the focus on these specific sectors?

It’s simple; New Brunswick already has a very strong base in those sectors. The plan is to focus on things New Brunswick is already incredibly good at. This is an opportunity to build on our strengths, creating even more excitement around things like cybersecurity and smart grid. I think we are at the forefront of these sectors already in Canada, and this accelerator only solidifies our position as a national leader.

Tell us about the first cohort. 

As part of our selection process, we looked at what ‘cool’ technologies were out there, novel and exciting young companies from our target sectors. We wanted startups that had moved beyond the idea stage, that already had a working prototype, demonstration product or alpha/beta product, and have a target or locked down initial customers. The idea is to work with companies well along the pathway to follow-on investment for commercialization.

First, we have Beauceron Security in the cybersecurity space; they are focused on the human element of cybersecurity. They’re working to help companies monitor, measure, and manage cyber threats. They’re also helping businesses test their employees’ cyber awareness.

Stash Energy, run by a trio of UNB grads, is looking to help consumers reduce their overall heating costs. Their product is an energy storage solution that works with residential heat pumps.

Trispectra Innovation has developed a sensor-based communications and analytics platform allowing for real-time monitoring of power lines. It’s an innovative product aimed at disrupting the smart grid space. They want to increase the efficiency of utilities with regards to response to outages by enabling fast detection.

Rising Tide looks to harness tidal power to create clean energy. The highest tides in the world are right here in New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy, so we have an opportunity to be trailblazers in tidal energy extraction.

Finally, there’s Caleb Grove’s Mbissa Energy Systems. Caleb travelled to Cameroon, and while there he began a plan to integrate wind, hydro, and solar panels in order to provide electricity to small remote areas there. We are talking areas that had never before seen electricity. His primary inspirations were the women giving birth in hospitals with no power. To work with people doing incredible things like that, it’s so powerful!

Bringing tremendous entrepreneurs like this together at Energia will help move New Brunswick to a whole new level in these sectors.

Let’s start recruitment for Energia’s next cohort right now. What message would you like to send to other entrepreneurs? 

If you have a startup in the smart grid, clean tech, energy or cybersecurity space, New Brunswick is where you want to be. We are interested in entrepreneurs from anywhere in Canada with a novel or exciting product or service. We will help you lock down the seed capital you need, and provide the infrastructure expertise needed to help propel you to the next level. We also want to work with international entrepreneurs, both in the U.S. and abroad, that want to pilot and grow great businesses with global impact right here in New Brunswick.

Contact us, and let’s get started.

We’re really throwing down the gauntlet. We see now as a great time for Canada to lead in these sectors. Canadian leadership is very interested in supporting this type of initiative. If you want to work with strong corporate anchors like Siemens Canada and have access to a tremendous innovation and commercialization ecosystem, this is the place to be.

Supplemental reading:

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Cover image via UNB/Energia Ventures