2015 Babson Energy Conference blows up!
The Annual Babson Energy & Environment Conference did indeed blow up this year. Whereas it was once a comfortable gathering of Babson students. This year, it caught fire and blew up into a gathering dominated by industry professionals.
Many Babson alumni are currently among the foremost implementing new technology into an otherwise historic energy grid. Energy has been a hot area for graduates of the last 10 years. Particular areas of interest at the conference were consumer facing technologies and back end software systems for utilities. There was a good mix of nascent technology still under development alongside proven solutions already in the market. Salient themes in the conference were “old” working with “new” and “big” working with “small” towards modern energy systems. The photos below tell just some of the stories that underscored this years conference.
The Morning Sessions
9:30 am: After an introduction from Babson President Dr. Kerry Healey, Amory Lovins opened the conference with a brilliant talk about the opportunity compelling entrepreneurs into the Clean Tech space. Lovins is chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute where he leads cutting edge research in the study of sustainability. He closed the mornings discussion by acknowledging that it’s not always the technology which is slow to permeate. Often times, complacency among decision makers are the chasm in need of crossing. With this, Lovins had introduced a core of dialogue for the day. The discourse was not only to cover innovation but also how to make practical solutions that can be implemented into existing systems.
Above, the co-founders of Crowd Comfort. Eric Graham MBA ’04 and Kevin Loos MBA ’13. Their company was recently voted “Boston’s Best New Idea” at the Cleanweb Hackathon. Eric has over 20 years in the Clean Tech space and shared his personal experiences developing Demand Side Innovations. His company’s solution equips building occupants with smart phone apps to better manage their energy resources.
The above audio is James Cater ’99 who currently serves as the liaison for the City of Boston’s Utility Energy Efficiency Program. Listen as he talks about the opportunity for startups to work with the city’s utility companies.
Chris Dowd MBA ’16 speaks to Jonathan Poor MBA ’06 who currently serves as Director of Strategy for National Grid. Jon is currently developing technology approaches to deliver energy more efficiently to National Grid customers. The resulting energy output is not only less expensive but also would enable customers to better control their consumption.
Rishi Sondhi MBA ’10, Product Manager at Eversource Energy speaks to Ruth Levine, Director of Business Development at Olin College of Engineering. At the conference they convened over projects for students focused on energy. Rishi leads a BCAP project which incorporates current Babson students into a semester long energy project consulting with Eversource.
The conference also attracted students from other schools eager to participate in the discussion. Eric Desrosiers, an MBA student at Wharton and Policy student at Harvard’s Kennedy School, called the conference “phenomenal” and spoke particularly well about the mornings session with environmental scientist and physicist Amory Lovins.
The afternoon wrap-up
The afternoon sessions were heavy with conversation around the regulatory side of an eco friendly economy. These talks included demonstrations of how the slow regulatory environment actually creates opportunity for entrepreneurial solutions.
12:00 pm: The lunch menu was appropriately called “Feed your brain”. At several hundred guests, the Pepsi Co pavilion was bustling with a dialogue rich gathering around several topics concerning Energy and Environment.
2:00 pm: Ava Anderson ’16 presented to the after lunch audience in Olin Auditorium. Ava founded the Ava Anderson company in 2009 which specializes in non-toxic beauty products. She is a senior at Babson College now so if the math be correct, she started the company at around 15 years old. Her frustration with the regulatory environment for beauty products still resonates today and seems to be one additive fueling her company’s success. The cosmetics regulatory environment then and still today allows beauty products to contain some hazardous materials that can be detrimental to long term health. At the moment, Ava’s products are leading the regulators in protecting consumers from hazardous cosmetic products. And it doesn’t hurt that Ava Anderson Non-Toxic products was recently recognized as Inc magazine’s Coolest College Startup.
4:00 pm: The conference begins to wind down after a powerful collection of speakers. The closing remarks were delivered by Massachusetts Environmental League President George Bachrach. His was a message that consumers must continue to demand sustainable innovations from their governments. When an audience member identified himself as a green entrepreneur bringing a new technology to the market and asked why his company was not afforded greater tax incentives, the closing speaker acknowledged that government incentives for small businesses greening the economy could be better. So with that, it was agreed there is much to work on and look forward to leading up to next years 10th Annual Babson Energy & Environmental Conference.