Billy Fung

2017 Lightning Lab Electric Innovation Challenge

Billy Fung / 2017-04-08

I won’t actually talk about our idea in this post, that would be silly.

My first tech competition

Tech challenges come in many different forms, some are very open ended and don’t have a rigid set of rules for you to follow, others want you to follow a specific format and produce a specific, quantifiable output. Like many other tech nerds, I’ve read many articles about tech and innovation challenges; the tv series Silicon Valley comes to mind as well. It’s where the tech buzzwords are thrown around: disrupt, synergy, innovate, hype, challenge, etc… It’s hard to avoid it when you are working in the tech industry, afterall it’s where startup unicorns are born right?

That said, I have actually never entered any competitions or hackathons (they’re pretty much the same thing right?) till this recent Lightning Lab Electric Challenge. The challenge came as a surprise to us, since we didn’t hear about it till pretty much the launch date, and we may have actually not entered it at all.

The team

By we, I mean the team of myself, my coworker, and a physics postdoc who had previously expressed interest in doing some work for the company I’m at. Being a company within the electricity space, this was an obvious and I daresay simple endeavour for us. Working within a small company, we have always had too many ideas and not enough resources to allocate to them, so this innovation challenge was a perfect excuse to spend some more time and hammer out one of our less complex ideas.

The idea

The guidelines of the challenge gave three categories in which participants had to follow: Consumer Solutions, Grid Solutions, . But most importantly to us was what they did with our IP, because we weren’t going to submit an idea if that meant that they would just take our idea and then run with it. Afterall, the entire point of the challenge was to force people and companies to think differently about electricity, and to bring new ideas to an old and stale industry.

The main ethos at Emhtrade has always been data driven insights into how to best serve our customers, and how to best bring new ideas into the electricity industry. This means we spend a great deal of time looking at data, and our submission into the challenge is a tool to give customers more information about a certain aspect of electricity that everybody deals with, yet there isn’t any information available. So with that in mind, that’s what our idea generally solved, a customer pain in knowing the electricity efficiency in something they’re paying for.