UMSL teams with Ameren to spark energy innovation and attract job-creating tech startups to St. Louis

by | Apr 2, 2017

Three alumni are providing vision and leadership to the first-of-its-kind energy industry partnership.

Chairman, President and CEO of Ameren Corporation Warner Baxter announces Ameren Accelerator, a public-private partnership that will assess, mentor and invest in energy technology startup companies in St. Louis. To his right sit the leaders of Ameren’s key partner institutions in the effort (from left) CEO of Capital Innovators Judy Sindecuse, UMSL Chancellor Tom George and UM System President Mun Choi. (Photos by Bob Samples)

The Ameren Accelerator is an innovative public-private partnership that will assess, mentor and invest in energy technology startup companies that will benefit customers and create jobs in St. Louis, Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) officials said at a launch event March 31.

Joining Ameren for the announcement were its primary partners: University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL Accelerate), University of Missouri System and Capital Innovators.

The Ameren Accelerator is the St. Louis region’s first accelerator to focus on energy technologies and the first North American corporate accelerator specifically focused on the energy industry. Leveraging the expertise of all of the partners, the goals of this program are to better position Ameren to meet its customers’ future energy needs and expectations, create new jobs through these startup companies and provide university students opportunities to be more engaged in the energy business.

Ameren President, Chairman and CEO Warner Baxter (far right, second row) and UMSL Accelerate Director Dan Lauer (left of Baxter) pose with UMSL students involved in the new Ameren Accelerator. Baxter, BSBA 1983, and Lauer, BSBA 1983, are graduates of UMSL.

Five to seven startup companies are expected to be chosen, and each will receive $100,000 in seed capital to participate in the Ameren Accelerator program, which will be located in Cortex, St. Louis’ innovation and technology district.

Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation, said the program is a key component of Ameren’s focus on innovative technologies to make the energy grid smarter, more reliable, resilient and secure while also transforming how customers manage and use energy to power their lives in the future.

“As new energy technologies rapidly advance, it is critical that we take bold steps today to better position Ameren to meet our customers’ future energy needs and expectations,” Baxter said. “This forward-thinking initiative is expected to draw innovators, entrepreneurs and business startups from around the world to St. Louis and to provide us with important insights and technologies to deliver long-term value to our customers and the communities we serve. At the same time, this initiative will enhance St. Louis’ already robust innovation and entrepreneurship community, attract top-level talent, educate university students and create jobs. This is a tremendous opportunity for the St. Louis region.”

As part of the program, the selected startup companies will each receive intensive mentoring, technical assistance, facilities and networking connections from the Ameren Accelerator partners.

“The Ameren Accelerator is our first corporate initiative through UMSL Accelerate – which is a campus-wide program designed to foster entrepreneurism and innovation in and outside the classroom and to help bring concepts from mind to market,” said Tom George, chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “We look forward to tapping into our strong contingent of faculty, student and alumni connections to make this program a success for all involved.”

George also pointed out that UMSL alumni were primary players in founding the Ameren Accelerator partnership.

“UMSL Accelerate is housed in our award-winning College of Business Administration,” George said. “I’d like to thank and acknowledge the program’s director – Dan Lauer – and our business dean – Charlie Hoffman – for their continuing leadership.

“Besides the Ameren Accelerator, Dan [BSBA 1983], Charlie [BSBA 1974, MBA 1976] and Warner [BSBA 1983] have another thing in common,” he said. “They are all graduates of the University of Missouri–St. Louis. To that I just have to say – go Tritons!”

Chancellor Tom George discusses UMSL’s involvement in the Ameren Accelerator with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Maria Altman.

“The Ameren Accelerator will be a transformative public-private partnership to create new technologies and workforce training for the future,” said Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president. “Collaborating with innovative partners such as Ameren and Capital Innovators will enable the faculty, students and staff of the University of Missouri System to directly contribute to economic development in the state. I am proud that UMSL spearheaded this project because these activities are strongly aligned with our mission as a top public research university.”

Beginning today through May 12, applications will be accepted from interested entrepreneurs and energy technology companies. Information and requirements may be found at

In July, the selected startup companies will receive seed funding and hands-on support throughout the 12-week program. Senior-level executives from a variety of companies will provide mentorship. Subject matter experts in the areas of energy, sales, marketing, pricing, technical development, operations, talent development and finance will also provide guidance. Based out of the CIC@4240 Building in Cortex, participants will be able to network with like-minded individuals focused on innovative thinking and collaboration. CIC is one of the most cutting-edge high-tech facilities in the country and a prime destination for business creativity.

At the conclusion of the program, participants will be invited to showcase their efforts to both the mentoring teams and potential third-party investors during Accelerator Demo Day this October. Ameren may select the most promising projects for ongoing mentoring and engagement beyond the Accelerator program.

“Capital Innovators is excited to lead the movement through this partnership for the next level of accelerator programs to focus on the world’s most pressing issues, such as energy,” said Judy Sindecuse, CEO of Capital Innovators. “We look forward to engaging a new group of fresh thinkers on a variety of energy-related challenges and cultivating necessary innovations that can provide extreme value to the energy sector.”

“We are excited about the prospects of this unique public-private partnership,” Baxter said. “Ameren Accelerator is one way we are demonstrating our vision of ‘Leading the Way to a Secure Energy Future’ and our mission ‘To Power the Quality of Life.’”

To apply or to learn more about Ameren Accelerator, visit

About Ameren Corporation
St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries. Ameren Illinois provides electric distribution and transmission service, as well as natural gas distribution service, while Ameren Missouri provides vertically integrated electric service, with generating capacity of over 10,200 megawatts, and natural gas distribution service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois develops regional electric transmission projects. Follow the company on Twitter @AmerenCorp. For more information, visit

About the University of Missouri-St. Louis and UMSL Accelerate
The University of Missouri–St. Louis is the largest public research university in eastern Missouri with the greatest concentration of alumni in the region. Their UMSL Accelerate initiative fosters entrepreneurism and innovative thinking in and outside the classroom and helps bring concepts from mind to market. For more information, visit

About the University of Missouri System
The University of Missouri System is the State of Missouri’s largest public university, with four campuses serving more than 76,000 students, a health care system, an extension program, and more than 500,000 alumni worldwide. The UM System was created in 1963 when the University of Missouri (founded in 1839 in Columbia) and the Missouri School of Mines (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology, founded in 1870 in Rolla), were combined with the formerly private University of Kansas City (now University of Missouri–Kansas City, founded in 1933), and a newly created campus in suburban St. Louis (University of Missouri–St. Louis).

About Capital Innovators
Capital Innovators is an innovation engine that creates practical solutions across industries that can shape the future of organizations. Capital Innovators provides innovation consulting, entrepreneurial-based programs, acts as a liaison between Corporations, Universities and Startups and investment into attractive early-stage businesses. Capital Innovators has in-depth knowledge into the most cutting-edge solutions through the Accelerator division of its business, which has been ranked as a Top 10 Accelerator in the country for three years in a row and has invested in and guided 70 companies to date. Capital Innovators model is simple and effective: Innovation, Iteration, and Implementation.

Media coverage:

St. Louis Post-DispatchThe UMSL Experience
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Business Journal
University Business


Bob Samples

Bob Samples

Bob Samples is associate vice chancellor for university communications at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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