When serial entrepreneur Sanjoy Malik started a company to provide energy data, he knew exactly where to turn for assistance. His earlier telecommunications companies, Air2Web and Synchrologic, are both graduates of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a startup accelerator that helps Georgia’s technology entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies.
In late 2009, Malik started his latest company – Urjanet – through Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program, a one-stop center for technology commercialization that provides a clear pathway from laboratory innovation to the commercial market. Malik worked with Sham Navathe of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing and Ravi Subramanian of the College of Management in the areas of data modeling, database design and mining, and energy-related analytical decision modeling.
“We basically started in VentureLab, but once we were ready to come out of that phase, we began talking to ATDC, and they were kind enough to rent us some space and let us become one of their companies,” Malik recalled. “Our research partnership with Georgia Tech has helped us create and bring new technology to market to create some the industry’s most innovative products.”
Urjanet enables large-scale energy consumers to better manage company-wide power usage, meet carbon reduction goals and evaluate potential power investments, including investments in solar and wind. The product – UBus – is a scalable data service that provides easy access to static and real-time data sources. It collects and compiles energy information from multiple sources, and delivers it directly to customer applications and dashboards through a user interface that can measure ROI of energy investments.
With rising energy prices and increasing regulations, Malik says the timing is right for a company like Urjanet. For instance, British retail giant Tesco wants to cut its supply chain emissions by 30 percent by 2020, Cox Enterprises has set a goal of reducing its company-wide carbon footprint 20 percent by 2017 and telecommunications company BT plans to reduce absolute emissions by 80 percent by 2016, compared to its 1997 baseline. But businesses that want to optimize energy use and implement green initiatives are facing a critical gap in data needed to fully implement energy programs.
“Companies want to reduce energy costs by making better purchasing decisions,” noted Malik. “We can help them have complete insight into how their purchase plans affect overall cost and deliver accurate and detailed energy usage and market information required to make those decisions.”
UBus collects, consolidates, analyzes and delivers data related to energy and carbon. The platform collects data from varied sources like utilities, smart meters and energy management software, processes this data, and then delivers the information via a standard interface to customer applications such as appliances, energy monitors, dashboards and analytical and reporting tools. The subscription-based service is available as a monthly, weekly, daily or transactional service. Target customers are organizations that spend millions of dollars a year on electricity and natural gas and have multiple business locations.
The first version of UBus was released at the end of the second quarter of 2010, and three large blue-chip companies have signed on as customers. The year-old company is currently obtaining energy data from many sources, including U.S. electric utilities, and expects to have several thousand utility data connections within the next 18 months. Just this month, Cox Enterprises announced a partnership with Urjanet to track its national energy usage and costs for approximately 30,000 accounts spread across 190 utilities in the United States and Canada.
Urjanet has received funding from Imlay Investments, the National Science Foundation and the Georgia Research Alliance. The company currently has nine employees and is based in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. Malik says that ATDC lends credibility to his startup business.
“ATDC has always been a good nurturing environment for early-stage companies,” Malik said. “That’s important, especially in a recession. Having ATDC behind us is like a pillar of strength, a sign to outside people that this very respected organization believes in our company.”
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) serves as the hub for technology entrepreneurship in Georgia. Founded in 1980, ATDC helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies. Through business incubation and acceleration services, ATDC has supported the creation of hundreds of high tech companies that have raised more than a billion dollars in outside financing. Headquartered in Atlanta’s Technology Square, ATDC members benefit from a close proximity to Georgia Tech and connections with other Georgia research universities.
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