Bold Ideas 2020 Startups Highlight Their Work with Schneider Electric and Energy Storage Advances

Energy storage is critical to electrifying our world with renewable energy. That’s why Greentown Labs and our partner Schneider Electric ran Bold Ideas 2020, a Greentown Launch partnerships accelerator focused on enabling the swift deployment, integration, and operation of energy storage assets at scale.

Over the course of six months, the participating startups—Packetized Energy, Salient Energy, Sensai Analytics, and e-Zinc—worked closely with Schneider Electric to advance their energy storage technologies. These meaningful collaborations included deploying their solutions, refining their go-to-market strategies, validating their value propositions, and much more.

Bold Ideas 2020 follows the success of the first Bold Ideas Challenge, a program run by Greentown Labs and Schneider Electric in 2018. The Bold Ideas Challenge resulted in Schneider Electric entering into a joint development agreement and investment with Titan Advanced Energy Solutions, a program participant whose technology increases charge capacity and battery life. SE Ventures co-led Titan’s Series A funding round.

Read about the Bold Ideas 2020 participants’ progress below, and check out a recording of the program’s Final Showcase here!

Packetized Energy

Technology at a glance: Packetized Energy, based in Vermont, develops a platform solution that transforms existing energy devices in homes and businesses into smart, valuable, and flexible energy resources so that electricity can be clean, affordable, and easy to use.

Progress during Bold Ideas 2020: Packetized Energy and Schneider Electric’s Home and Distribution team explored strategies to integrate Schneider Electric’s devices into Packetized Energy’s Nimble Energy Flexibility Platform. This would allow customers with Schneider devices to join in and benefit from energy flexibility programs offered by their local utilities. These electric utilities could use the coordinated devices like a virtual battery, making electricity cleaner, more resilient, and more affordable for all their customers. Learn more about the benefits of this technology and how it works here!

What’s next for Packetized Energy: Packetized Energy has recently been awarded a $2M project with the California Energy Commission to connect 7,000 smart energy devices to its platform to enable 4 MW of flexible energy. It is also finalizing a large project in NY that will showcase its new customer engagement solutions while providing a partner utility with advanced grid services.

Salient Energy

Technology at a glance: Salient Energy, based in Nova Scotia, makes a unique zinc-ion battery with a water-based chemistry that is cheaper, safer, and longer-lasting than lithium-ion batteries.

Progress during Bold Ideas 2020: Throughout the Greentown Launch program, the Salient Energy team worked closely with their corporate mentors from Schneider Electric on refining their go-to-market strategy. They zeroed in on their beachhead markets—including on-ship energy storage to reduce emissions in the shipping industry—and identified their technology’s high safety levels as a key differentiator from lithium-ion battery solutions.

What’s next for Salient Energy: Salient Energy has secured a project to create a residential energy storage system and struck a deal with a utility that will be the system’s first customer. The team plans to hire rapidly.

Sensai Analytics

Technology at a glance: Sensai Analytics, based in Massachusetts and Cork, Ireland, develops a prescriptive analytics engine that rapidly produces robust forecasting models for prescriptive maintenance, demand forecasting, and operations management. Focused on the energy and electrification industries, they use transfer learning to massively reduce the time-to-value for machine learning projects.

Progress during Bold Ideas 2020: During the program, Sensai Analytics evaluated the value proposition of their technology through multiple case studies using data provided by Schneider Electric. The startup also worked closely with Schneider Electric to explore possible business models to bring their technology to market by analyzing typical AI sales cycles, information security protocols, and suitable cloud strategies.

What’s next for Sensai Analytics: Sensai Analytics is now engaged in proof-of-value projects with multiple OEMs, and rapidly executing on their product roadmap, with general release expected before the end of the year. The ability to build prescriptive models without the need for large amounts of labelled training data, greatly reducing companies time-to-value for data analytics projects, is gaining significant traction with companies who want to scale their use of AI.

“We’ve really, really enjoyed being part of the Greentown Labs community. We’re going to stay on as a member, I hope for many years. It’s been great for us to be part of such a mission-driven community.”

—Ian Mathews, CEO of Sensai Analytics


Technology at a glance: e-Zinc, based in Toronto, develops a low-cost, flexible, and long-duration electrochemical technology solution that stores energy in zinc metal.

Progress during Bold Ideas 2020: Corporate mentors at Schneider Electric helped e-Zinc understand how its performance specs meet market needs and synthesize competitive pricing intel. e-Zinc also collaborated with its mentors to develop a path forward for its power conversion system and validate its value proposition in target markets.

What’s next for e-Zinc: e-Zinc’s big focus for 2021 is deploying its first in-field system this spring. From there, the team will validate that system’s technical performance and continue to refine its design and manufacturing processes. The startup also plans to close a funding round at the end of the year and is looking forward to deploying its next system with the California Energy Commission in 2022

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