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UNB Spinout Simptek Launches Pilot With NB Power

SimpTek Technologies, a Fredericton maker of energy monitoring software, announced Thursday that it will undergo a three-month pilot project with 150 NB Power customers with the aim of validating its product.

Founded by University of New Brunswick alumni Asif Hasan, Lionel Fernandes and Keelen Gagnon, SimpTek has developed a product that can assess the energy usage throughout a home. It gives the homeowner detailed, real-time information about what appliances or components of the house are using how much energy; and it provides a utility with detailed aggregated information about energy usage in its customer base.

The 2015 Breakthru competition runner-up announced the $15,000 pilot during the second anniversary celebration of Planet Hatch, the Fredericton incubator and accelerator that nurtured SimpTek in its early stages.

“We’re hoping that once people can actually see how much energy they are using in their homes, they will alter their habits to save and reduce energy,” said Hasan, the company’s CEO.

SimpTek, which has grown to a five-person operation in two years, provides the homeowner with a dashboard detailing the energy consumption in the home – right down to how much power each appliance uses and when it’s used.

In the pilot project, NB Power will provide and install hardware capable of collecting real-time data on energy use in up to 150 homes agreed upon by SimpTek and the utility. SimpTek will analyze the daily data and report it to NB Power over a one-year period, keeping data for individual homes anonymous and confidential.

NB Power partnered with the German technology giant Siemens AG three years ago to develop a smart grid in the province – that is a delivery infrastructure that can assess and react to demand from clients and generate energy accordingly. Now NB Power hopes to use Simptek’s platform to learn details of consumer energy usage with the goal of improving the performance of the smart grid.

“You know the old saying, You can’t manage what you can’t measure?” said NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “Well, this is the tool that will let us measure how we’re using energy.”

NB Power’s agreement to become SimpTek’s first customer demonstrates the support available to Fredericton startups from a range of institutions. SimpTek emerged from UNB’s Management, Technology and Entrepreneurship program and went through Accelr8, the former Planet Hatch accelerator. It won $222,250 by placing second in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s Breakthru competition in March. It graduated from the basic Propel ICT launch program last year and on Sept. 22 is due to graduate from the accelerator’s more advanced Build program. The company is trying to raise $600,000, and has some funding commitments.

Now SimpTek has secured an early adopter – which can be one of the toughest tasks for a B2B outfit.

“As early adopters, NB Power and Siemens are paving the way for emerging start-up companies to develop new, innovative technologies right here,” said Ignite Fredericton CEO Larry Shaw. “We look forward to more announcements in the future.”

What the SimpTek founders are looking forward to is completing the pilot and getting more customers.

Said Gagnon: “Obviously we want to maintain a presence here, but our plan is to roll this out across North America.”