Home Feature The Future of EnergyTech Being Built Right Now In Birmingham

The Future of EnergyTech Being Built Right Now In Birmingham

by Maija Ehlinger

Startup success stories already paint the Birmingham skyline. 

Shipt and Landing, two rapidly-growing companies started by Bill Smith, both have their names on different buildings in downtown Birmingham. 

But the next startup to have its name on the side of a skyscraper just might be a local EnergyTech startup. 

That’s because Birmingham has become a unique hub for sustainability-focused startups, particularly after Techstars EnergyTech moved in three years ago. By attracting global teams to relocate to Birmingham, the city is now brimming with new talent in the CleanTech and EnergyTech space.

Those startups aren’t just working on hypothetical ideas for a day when our world is fully sustainable. Rather, they are bringing practical solutions to life to make sure sustainability and clean initiatives work today.

This week at the Techstars EnergyTech Demo Day, Birmingham startups addressed big questions like: How can we make sure the grid works for our electrified future? What will the future of work when EnergyTech is in full bloom? How can a company start really quantifying ESG records? And, of course, how in the world are we going to feed our ever-growing global population? 


Meet The Latest EnergyTech Startups Building In Birmingham: 

Techstars EnergyTech Cohort #3: 

Solar Unsoiled: Michael Valerino 

Using analytics, the company is finding ways to efficiently clean solar panels. Why is that such a big deal? Dirt on panels leads to a big financial loss for companies. Valerino said his goal is to “change how solar maintenance happens.” 


Hop In: Erich Ko and Boyd Reid  

This Toronto company is looking to change the way workers and businesses use the roads here in the US. this all-in-one shuttling logistics platform is designed to help companies expand their hiring pools while helping employees save time on their commute. Think of it as mass volume ridesharing for organizations. Since starting Techstars, the startup has landed partnerships with UPS, Honda, and even individual counties in Alabama. 


PowerTechs: Ksenia Solomatina 

How are we actually going to retrain and reskill the American workforce for the electrified future? PowerTechs is about bridging the training gap for skilled technicians and how to effectively re-train talent for the future of work. 


Latimer Controls: Simon Julien 

Solar energy is essential for “green” future, but it is rather unpredictable right now. So how do we address that uncertainty? Cue Latimer Controls, a Colorado-based startup building utility-scale controls systems that enable stand-alone dispatchable solar power. 



WhyGrene: Patrick Phelps

Can you make money from buying an electric vehicle? With its virtual power plants, Seattle-based WhyGrene is making is possible for EV owners to sell power from their parked vehicles back onto the grid. 


Rivalia Chemical: Laura Stoy, PhD

Laura Stoy, a Georgia Tech PhD, has developed a way to extract rare earth elements from coal ash. This could help create a more resilient rare earth supply chain – something that is essential in our electronic devices and for our medical and military work. 


ShipShape Urban Farms: Dale Speetjens, Angela Speetjens, Marcia Schuffman and Emanuel Campbell

From its home in Mobile, Alabama, ShipShape designs and manufactures modular, hydroponic farms to help feed more people locally and reduce the miles food travels to get to our tables. It’s created a way to decrease the amount of time it takes to grow veggies and how much acreage is needed to feed our communities. And…they might be soon growing food in space?? Stay tuned for more on that front…


Ecolytics: Hazel Horvath 

By “turning impact into an asset,” Ecolytics wants to make it possible to quantify a company’s ESG work and show the tangible status of their sustainability efforts. 


Energyield: Johan Rademar 

Coming all the way from Sweden, Rademar joined Techstars to build out his idea for a tool to predict when grid failures will happen. The software is designed to detect grid failures up to a week in advance, giving utilities the chance to work proactively on fixing the problem. The team has already run several successful pilots in Europe.


Idyllo: Jessica Majno 

If you’ve ever had a bad experience using Angies or other search engines to find a handyman, you’ll want to keep an eye out on Idyllo. The startup is building a hyperlocal home improvement marketplace that finds trusted, verified local vendors. Idyllo moved down from DC and is launching in its first few neighborhoods in Birmingham. 


A Look At Techstars EnergyTech To Date

If Techstars’ magic in selecting startups is any indication, one of these startups might be soon having their own downtown Birmingham buildings and perhaps might be the city’s first EnergyTech unicorn. 

The startups in Cohort 3 that pitched this week join a list of impressive previous Techstars EnergyTech graduates.

Its first two cohorts have already closed a total of $160 million in funding. Many of those have permanently moved their HQs to Birmingham or opened up strategic new offices in the city.  

In a sign of increased momentum for the city’s EnergyTech scene, Techstars announced that its next cohort will grow to back 12 budding startups, up from its current 10 teams per batch. 




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