Disruptor Daily Interview’s Colin Gounden for Blockchain in Energy Series

Colin Gounden sat down with Emilia Picco of Disruptor Daily, a publication that delivers the latest trends in blockchain, to talk about how VIA uses blockchain technology to help transform the energy sector.

At the start of the interview, Colin explained the reason VIA developed its blockchain application, TAC™, and its best use case:

“Some companies had too little data, some didn’t have clean data, some had a lot of data but not in any single location, and some were unable to share it due to security concerns. That’s when we had the idea to develop our blockchain application, Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™)…

…In recent months, we’ve taken our efforts with TAC™ a step further and built the foundation for the Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™). GDAC™ is the first privacy preserving, multi-company database for machine learning-ready transformer data, which has been created on top of our TAC™ software. As an analogy, GDAC™: Transformers is like an app on our “TAC™ app store”.

At the end of the interview, Colin talks about where he sees VIA in the next five years:

“We see VIA’s Trusted Analytics Chain™ as the go-to solution for both utilities / network operators and AI analysts alike. For utilities, they can become part of GDAC™ (which uses TAC™ as the underlying software) to have their data analyzed to get more accurate predictions about their equipment. For analysts, since it’s hard to access robust data like that of utilities, TAC™ will be the go-to software to solve high value, super interesting problems like those related to grid resiliency.”

For the full interview, check out Disruptor Daily’s website.


VIA Highlighted in “The Rise of Privacy Preserving AI”

VIA was recently featured in a second Axios article titled “The Rise of Privacy Preserving AI”. The article discusses how new AI methods, such as federated learning, allow companies to benefit from collective data analytics, without having to reveal sensitive data.

In energy, predicting the next catastrophic power equipment failure requires data on previous problems. Because these events are rare, companies need to team up to share their data for collective analytics. VIA launched the Global Data Asset Collaborative (GDAC™): Transformers, where power companies are able to share data while still preserving privacy (through federated learning), with the goal of improving decision making related to operations, maintenance, and replacement of transformers.

To read the full article, visit Axios’ website.

The Westly Group Leads $7M Investment in VIA

VIA, a leader in using artificial intelligence and blockchain to provide security and data analytic solutions for the energy and utility industry, announced that the Westly Group is leading a $7M seed investment in Via Science, Inc. (VIA). The funding will accelerate VIA’s customer acquisition and increase the number of network operators in its Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC™) program. GDAC™ is the power industry’s first predictive maintenance application combined with a multi-company, privacy protected, distributed database of equipment data.

“The Westly Group has met with over a hundred AI and blockchain companies, and we believe that VIA is the clear leader in the energy sector. VIA has a groundbreaking business model and a unique approach to collaborative analytics. This combination is exactly what the power industry is waiting for,” said Steve Westly, founder and managing partner of the Westly Group.

“Our team at VIA is very excited to have selected the Westly Group as partners. What impressed us most about the Westly Group is the breadth and depth of the relationships they have in the power sector. Their LP base of major global utilities is unparalleled. Membership in our GDAC™ program is already growing. With the support of the Westly Group, adoption by network operators will only increase,” said Colin Gounden, CEO of VIA.

About VIA

VIA helps energy companies across the globe realize the value of their data through AI and blockchain. The company works with the world’s largest utilities and government agencies on AI initiatives like predictive maintenance and contingency planning. VIA has developed a blockchain-based application, Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™) to help energy companies reduce the burden of preparing and sharing their data. TAC™ (patents pending) is the bridge that securely connects power company data, distributed across many locations, to potential AI solutions. Headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts, VIA has been featured in Wired and Inc. Magazine for its leadership in technology innovation. For more information, please visit www.solvewithvia.com.

About The Westly Group

The Westly Group has successfully raised three venture funds that invest in rapidly growing software, IoT and Big Data companies in the smart energy, mobility and building sectors.  The Westly Group has 12 of the world’s larger energy and auto companies as investors and has had four companies go public on NASDAQ including Tesla Motors.

GreenBiz Features VIA in Article About Startups at the Plug and Play Spring Summit

Earlier this month, VIA’s Colin Gounden gave a presentation at Plug and Play’s Spring Summit 2019. Senior writer and analyst at GreenBiz, Katie Fehrenbacher, was in attendance and featured VIA in an article titled “Here’s Why Energy Companies Are Adopting AI”.  

The article describes common problems that major energy companies face, such as the need for better quality data to run their businesses more efficiently, and how extreme weather is putting pressure on their infrastructure. Startups, like VIA, are using AI and machine learning to solve for these issues and help energy asset managers make smarter decisions to reduce cost and risk to their equipment. VIA was mentioned as a solution to help utilities better predict when transformers might be at risk in a disaster through the use of its blockchain-based application, Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™).

In March, VIA was selected for the Spring 2019 cohort of Plug and Play’s Energy and Sustainability accelerator program.

To read the full article, check out the Greenbiz website.

Colin Gounden presenting at Plug and Play Spring Summit 2019

Image courtesy of Plug and Play

Axios Features VIA in Article, “Predicting the Next Power Disaster”

Colin Gounden recently sat down with Kaveh Waddell of leading online publication, Axios. They discussed how extreme weather, increased energy consumption, EVs, and renewable resources are challenging the safety and reliability of the grid. And, in particular, how AI companies like VIA are quickly becoming a critical piece of the puzzle for solving the declining US infrastructure problem.

To read the full article, check out the Axios website.

VIA Accepted Into Plug and Play’s Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Program

Joe Babiec, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives During Selection Day

VIA is pleased to share that we have been selected for the Spring 2019 cohort of Plug and Play’s Energy and Sustainability accelerator program. Plug and Play is one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent startup accelerators and venture investors. They connect competitively selected startups with their ecosystem of 280 major corporate partners and more than 200 VCs. Among the most notable program alumni are Paypal and Dropbox.

VIA is one of 15 companies chosen from more than 200 candidates to participate in Plug and Play’s intensive 10-week Energy and Sustainability program. During the final stage of the selection process in February, VIA’s own Joe Babiec pitched to a group of international utility companies and energy-focused venture capital firms.

Plug and Play’s Founder and CEO, Saeed Amidi, touches on the potential of the startups accepted into the program:

“It is fantastic to see such a talented group of entrepreneurs accepted into our programs. We aim to give our startups the best chance for success and these next three months will give them the tools and connections they need to thrive,” said Saeed Amidi, Founder and CEO of Plug and Play. “I am excited to see what they can accomplish when integrated into our ecosystem.”

For more information, see Plug and Play’s recent announcement.


VIA’s Joe Babiec Attends DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans

Earlier this month, VP, Strategic Initiatives, Joe Babiec attended DistribuTECH, the utility industry’s leading conference on electric power transmission and distribution. Hosted in New Orleans, the event featured speakers from Exelon, FERC, and Siemens, among others, and welcomed more than 12,000 attendees over two days.  

“Speakers like Paul Hinnenkamp of Entergy, and many vendors emphasized the importance of customer and operational data. A major theme of the conference was the value of gathering and analyzing this data in order to improve current operating efficiency and create new services. I spoke with representatives from a number of utilities about this issue, and I was delighted they felt that VIA’s TAC™ application offers a great solution to the difficult challenge of making customer and operational data more easily available for analysis,” remarked Joe.  

For more information on the event, please visit DistribuTECH’s website.


Vector and VIA Partner to Establish Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC), a Multi-Company Transformer Database

VIA is thrilled to announce our partnership with Auckland-based energy company, Vector, to build the world’s first privacy preserving, multi-company database for machine learning-ready transformer data, called the Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC): Transformers.

Simon Mackenzie, Group Chief Executive Officer at Vector, comments on the importance of this collaborative:

“With a larger, smarter and more collaborative data asset like the GDAC we can refine the information we depend on to keep our network assets in the best possible shape. This is becoming increasingly important as we transition the network to meet the needs of the new energy future, where new technologies like distributed energy resources and battery storage will integrate with the network at scale. We have a responsibility to make this transition as efficiently as we can, and without burdening customers with excessive infrastructure costs. Improving our data and analytics capability will play a central role in that.”

To read the full press release, visit Vector’s website.

VIA’s Colin Gounden and Jeremy Taylor Attend Opening of Innovation Center Denmark in Boston

Earlier this week, CEO Colin Gounden and CSO Jeremy Taylor were among a select group invited to the inauguration ceremony for Denmark’s Innovation Center in Kendall Square. VIA has established a presence within Denmark’s innovation community, thanks in large part to the support of Accelerace’s Cleantech program. This center is part of a partnership between the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Boston now joins Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Munich, New Delhi/Bangalore, Sao Paolo, and Seoul on the list of cities home to Danish Innovation Centers.

The new center will create opportunities for Danish researchers and companies to connect with Boston’s universities and cutting-edge start-ups, with a focus on cleantech and sustainable energy solutions.

Jeremy Taylor joined the roundtable discussion led by Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers. “Denmark has established an innovation cluster for artificial intelligence and robotics. One topic we discussed was the challenge with supporting ongoing development of these technologies in a socially and ethically responsible way. Montreal recently released its Declaration for Responsible AI, and I think that could be a great roadmap for Danish researchers and entrepreneurs as well,” said Jeremy.


VIA Denmark Innovation VIA Denmark Innovation

VIA and KWHCoin Partner to Securely Analyze Smart Meter Data for Utility Clean Energy Incentive Programs

Somerville, MA – December 20, 2018 – VIA, a leader in solving energy industry problems using artificial intelligence and blockchain, today announced its partnership with KWHCoin, a blockchain-based solution that integrates renewable energy and distributed energy resources into the grid.

KWHCoin will use VIA’s Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™) to securely and anonymously analyze consumer behavior from smart meter data to help its utility partners incentivize their customers to use renewable sources and clean energy.

Girard Newkirk, CEO of KWHCoin explains the value of partnering with VIA, “We have been working with several rural development cooperatives here in North Carolina to offer a reward system to their customers who use solar panels at their home or business. VIA’s approach to privacy preserving AI at both the energy infrastructure and individual household level will help make these types of rewards systems easily adoptable for more utilities and their customers who are concerned about privacy.”

“AI and analytics are powerful tools. Providing meaningful insights while maintaining the privacy and security of the underlying data is a crucial challenge. VIA’s TAC™ application is a “no trade off” solution and the world’s first privacy preserving AI platform,” said Colin Gounden, CEO of VIA.

He continued, “We are honored to partner with KWHCoin, a leader in delivering renewable energy access to underserved communities. VIA is on track to have 100,000 individual smart meter households protected by TAC™ in 2019. TAC™ will provide utilities with the insights they need for fault detection, load forecasting, and to create incentive programs, and other value-added services.”

About VIA

VIA helps energy companies across the globe realize the value of their data through AI and blockchain. Since 2016, the company has worked with the world’s largest utilities and government agencies on AI initiatives like predictive maintenance and contingency planning. VIA has developed a blockchain-based application, Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™) to help energy companies reduce the burden of preparing and sharing their data. TAC™ (patent pending) is the bridge that securely connects power company data, distributed across many locations, to potential AI solutions. Headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts, VIA has been featured in Wired and Inc. Magazine for its leadership in technology innovation. For more information, please visit www.solvewithVIA.com.

About KWHCoin

KWHCoin is a blockchain based community, ecosystem with a mission to provide renewable energy to the 1.2 billion people across the globe. We are using cryptocurrency as a liberation technology by giving people who are on the edges of the grid access to clean affordable energy.  Physical deliverable units of KWh energy are leveraged from multiple sources including smart meters, sensor readings and green button data therefore allowing us to become a smart grid exporter. This measurable export output is tokenized on the blockchain to create digital KWHCoin tokens that can be traded on our peer to peer network. The KHWCoin team headquartered in Wilmington, NC were the 2018 Regional Start up World Cup winners at the World Blockchain Summit held in Nairbori, Kenya.  For more information, please visit www.kwhcoin.com.

Joe Babiec Speaks at EUCI Conference on Blockchain, Energy Sector

In October, VIA’s Joe Babiec, VP, Strategic Initiatives, was invited to present at EUCI’s conference: “The Blockchain Technology Revolution: Implications for the Energy Sector”. Hosted in New Orleans, the event welcomed thought leaders and decision makers from leading utilities and energy providers, local government agencies, research organizations, and technology companies to discuss business use cases of blockchain in the energy industry.

In his session, “Valuation of Utility Data Through Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence”, Joe discussed the ways customers are using VIA’s TAC application to reduce costs and monetize operational data in secure and privacy-protected ways. He explained how TAC’s blockchain-enabled smart contracting capability allows data owners and analysts to reach agreements with one another much faster than by traditional methods, and with the confidence that the terms of their agreement will be observed by all parties.

Fellow presenter Kristen Brown, a principal of technology innovation at Exelon, touched on implications of the transformation taking place in the energy industry. Specifically, she called on energy companies to embrace the transition from business models that prioritize “pipelines” to new approaches that emphasize generating value from “platforms” that connect energy providers and consumers in new ways.

For information on upcoming EUCI conferences, visit their website.

VIA’s Joe Babiec Invited to Speak at Cleantech Group’s Executive Summit

In October, Joe Babiec, VIA’s VP, Strategic Initiatives, was invited to speak at Cleantech Group’s Executive Summit, “Blockchain in Energy & Mobility”. The summit, hosted in New York, invited top leaders in energy and blockchain to discuss the technical, commercial, and regulatory challenges of scaling blockchain-based applications within the energy industry.

Joe spoke on the opening panel, which focused on the value propositions and business models being used by innovating companies like VIA. He explained how VIA’s Trusted Analytics Chain (TAC) application generates revenue by helping energy companies reduce operations and maintenance costs, and by providing secure, private data access to external analysts. Joe also noted that TAC has an important advantage as a new product: unlike some future-oriented blockchain applications, TAC helps energy companies address challenges and opportunities they already experience, so using TAC allows companies to realize substantial benefits right away.

VIA is now engaging in a series of proof of concept pilots to confirm TAC’s evolution from a prototype to a production-ready application. The company plans to officially launch TAC in 2019.

VIA’s Joe Babiec Invited to Speak at Greentech Media’s Blockchain in Energy Forum

VIA’s VP, Strategic Initiatives Joe Babiec was invited to speak on a panel at Greentech Media’s Blockchain in Energy forum earlier this month. The panel, hosted at Pacific Gas and Electric’s San Francisco offices, focused on monetizing energy company data with the help of blockchain. Greentech Media’s Emma Foehringer Merchant moderated.

On the panel, Joe shared this insight into why VIA developed its blockchain-based Trusted Analytics Chain (TAC): “We identified a problem which turns out to be very common: in a typical nine-month project you often spend over two-thirds of your time getting access to the data before any of the value-add analytics work can begin.” TAC solves this challenge by establishing secure access to confidential data for analysis by third parties. Employing TAC to facilitate access to on-premise or cloud-stored data provides two key benefits: cost savings from better and faster analysis, and the opportunity for energy companies to generate new revenues by making data available, safely and privately, to in-house and external experts.

For more information about the event, visit PG&E’s website.

VIA CEO Colin Gounden Gives Keynote Speech at Siemens, Intelligent Energi Event

Earlier this month, VIA CEO Colin Gounden gave the keynote speech during an event hosted at Siemens’ Denmark offices. The Danish Intelligent Energy Alliance, Intelligent Energi, organized the event for its members. Intelligent Energi’s goal was to encourage dialogue between network companies, suppliers, and academics about opportunities and challenges to adapt to variable and renewable generation in the electricity distribution network.

Colin shared VIA’s AI and blockchain expertise, with a particular focus on its AI results to improve operations and maintenance and its Trusted Analytics Chain (TAC) application. One major topic of discussion at the event was related to the massive transformation that electrification is having (e.g., changing consumption due to electric vehicles and electric heat pumps). In particular, participants agreed that to ensure the reliability of the grid under new stresses like electrification and renewables, improved sharing of digital information and AI are necessities.

Joe Babiec Presents at Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days (SUEID)

In August, VIA’s VP, Strategic Initiatives Joe Babiec was invited to introduce VIA’s Trusted Analytics Chain application (TAC) and its innovative use of blockchain technology to more than 100 energy industry leaders during an address at the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days (SUEID) conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

SUEID, hosted by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and swissnex Boston, is an annual, invitation-only event that unites industry and thought leaders across Switzerland and the US. This event convenes a dynamic community of corporate, government, and academic leaders eager to exchange ideas, explore potential collaborations, and showcase promising energy-related innovations. One major theme voiced by conference participants was the need to increase information sharing within the energy industry while also respecting privacy concerns like GDPR. Joe’s address highlighted TAC’s ability to facilitate advanced analysis while ensuring compliance with customer-imposed or government-mandated security and privacy requirements.

Joe was also invited to meet with some of Switzerland’s largest power companies as well as leading academics in the country’s blockchain community, all of whom were interested in learning more about TAC and exploring potential future collaborations with VIA.

To learn more about the event, visit SUEID’s website.