Ameren Aims to Accelerate Six More Tech Start-Ups

Michael Calhoun
June 22, 2018 - 2:04 am

KMOX/Michael Calhoun

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -- The 'Ameren Accelerator' last night announced six start-ups from around the world which get to participate in the program this year.

One of them is a company out of New York that makes electricity-generating floor tiles.

Ameren President and CEO Warner Baxter describes it as "a really unique solution in terms of how you can use literally the footsteps in your office space to generate electricity."

The downtown-based Fortune 500 energy company is basically buying a stake in these small companies, forming a deep partnership with them.

"This is a group that's going to give us insights into the grid, make it more reliable more resilient," Baxter says, adding cyber security and renewable energy as other sectors represented.

The program received more than 300 applications from companies in 49 countries and 29 states. 

Each of the companies accepted gets $100,000 in seed funding. Ameren gets hands-on access to their ideas.

But Baxter says they both get something more.

"Our co-workers have the opportunity to interact with these brilliant entrepreneurs and, in many respects, think how they think and to be more agile and be thoughtful in how they approach the market," Baxter explains. "At the same time, these entrepreneurs get the incredible expertise that I'm blessed to work with, to work directly with them to help shape their product."

One of the local start-ups chosen deals in workplace safety. Another company, from Toronto, works with property owners to create infrastructre for ridesharing and self-driving cars.

Last year, Baxter says one of their more successful investments was a company that helps customers manage rebates.

Now other big businesses are wondering whether they should think small too.

Baxter tells KMOX News he's gotten calls from some colleagues in the energy industry curious about Ameren's experience. But, more notably, he predicts at least one of the St. Louis area's largest corporations will announce an accelerator program similar to Ameren's within the next year.

Ameren Accelerate is a partnership between Ameren, the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate, and Capital Innovators.