Accio Energy, With New CEO, Uses Physics to Harvest Wind Energy Without Turbines
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generate usable wind energy was first explored during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but that other elements weren’t in place to allow it to take off, such as computer systems that could enable the real-time modeling of environments and energy outputs. “This is very, very complex physics,” she says.
Accio, founded in 2007, has attracted a total of $2 million in seed funding, grants, and research contracts from organizations like the Michigan Public Service Commission, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Earlier this summer, the company received $250,000 in seed-stage money from Automation Alley, the Michigan technology business association. The startup also counts EDF Ventures managing director and founder Mary Campbell as an angel investor and board member.
Accio, which has eight employees, is still tweaking and testing its product before it goes pitching it to customers. The technology seems like a big bet at this point, but one with big payoffs if it works. In the meantime, Baird is ramping up to start raising a Series A financing round. She most recently served as president and CEO of Ann Arbor-based Accuri Cytometers, a life sciences instrument company that she co-founded and saw grow from two employees to 80, when she left in February.
“I enjoy this phase when you’re trying to break all the rules,” she says of Accio’s potential to transform the wind energy space. “It’s the kind of thing that just gets me enthusiastic.”
Ultimately, it’s about streamlining something that has been seen as clunky and complex to the end user, Baird says. “Making a wind turbine is like making an airplane,” she says. “We’re using the technology that looks more like an automobile, not as complex to build. It’s a real opportunity to contribute to the renewable energy field.”