Green Mountain Power (GMP) has launched a contest to find energy companies and entrepreneurs to colocate at the utility’s headquarters in Colchester, Vt., and work to develop innovative energy products for consumers.
“This exciting initiative is our way of encouraging businesses to locate here in Vermont by supporting energy entrepreneurs who will deliver the latest in new technology and clean energy for customers,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said in a statement. “Innovation is the key to cost-effective, clean energy and making the world a more sustainable place. Working together is the best way to achieve this energy vision.”
GMP is accepting applications for the contest through May 15, and will announce the winners at the end of May.
The winning companies will be invited to work alongside GMP staff and leadership in the utility’s new Inspire Space — an approximately 3,000-square-foot open work space located inside the utility’s headquarters. Outfitted from reclaimed materials, such as a table inlaid with a solar panel, and featuring hubs for each of the winning teams, the Inspire Space mimics the open floor plan of the facility that houses all of GMP’s working groups.
“The idea for the contest stemmed from the fact that we had some extra room because at GMP, we have been moving toward a more and more open concept working close together, and we find that that breeds better collaboration, better ideas, and better innovation,” Kristin Carlson, GMP’s director of media and chief corporate spokesperson, told Renewable Energy World.
Powell decided to renovate the extra space into an innovation center and attract companies to Vermont to build on GMP’s goal of delivering a new energy future for customers, Carlson said.
GMP will select up to five companies and will offer a small financial support package to help those companies move to Vermont. The companies will work in the Inspire Space for a year to develop their energy product offerings.
Carlson said the contest winners will have free access to the Inspire Space and the facilities at the headquarters, such as internet and conference rooms. More importantly, she added, they will be able to tap into the knowledge base of GMP’s employees and executive team as well as their connections in the energy industry.
Carlson said that, since GMP launched the contest, Vermont organizations have expressed an interest in providing the contest winners with mentorships and partnerships as well as access to capital.
According to Carlson, the primary qualifying factors for the contest are that the applicants be passionate and a have a great idea for the energy space.
“GMP is committed to transforming our energy future, one that moves away from the bulk grid to one where energy is generated closer to where it’s needed; where you’re making the home or the town the center, where you’re pairing it will energy storage and microgrids,” Carlson said. “We just see a lot of excitement around that, but there’s so much that still needs to be developed from a technology standpoint, and we want to help connect those businesses to our customers to deliver real-world solutions, but to have us also help in that process.”
Companies or entrepreneurs interested in applying for the contest can visit gmpinspire.com.