2017 Lightning Lab Electric Innovation Challenge

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.

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