UMSL interns, faculty eager to partner with first Ameren Accelerator cohort

by | Jul 31, 2017

Seven companies will take part in the 12-week program partially powered by UMSL Accelerate and UM System.

Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren, discusses the inspiration and goals of the Ameren Accelerator. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) announced the seven companies selected to participate in the Ameren Accelerator, an innovative public-private partnership with UMSL Accelerate, University of Missouri System and Capital Innovators, on July 27 at the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis.

The announcement party signified the first successful university partnership with a top-ranked accelerator and leading utility company. After reviewing more than 200 applications from 31 countries and 23 states, Ameren narrowed the startups from a robust pitch day event.

Dan Lauer, Ameren Accelerator

Dan Lauer, founding executive director of UMSL Accelerate, outlines UMSL’s involvement with the Ameren Accelerator.

“The companies selected to participate in the Ameren Accelerator have tremendous potential to positively affect the energy industry,” said Dan Lauer, founding executive director of UMSL Accelerate. “We’re delighted that students and faculty from the four campuses of the University of Missouri System are involved at various stages of this unique partnership – contributing to its success and learning lessons in entrepreneurism and innovation.”

Orientation has begun for the 12-week cohort with more than 30 mentors, 10 student interns and academic advocates from each campus in the UM System. Particular engagement includes Perry Drake, assistant teaching professor in UMSL’s marketing department, who will lead a social media learning session, and Brandon Ofem, assistant professor in UMSL’s global leadership and management department, who serves as an academic advocate and is researching ecosystems and entrepreneurial systems.

Additional system engagement includes Chuck Kuehl of UMSL, Bruce McMillin of Missouri University of Science and Technology, Ruwen Qin of Missouri S&T, Pat Pinhero of University of Missouri–Columbia, Gary Solbrekken of MU and James Baxendale of University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren, said the accelerator partnership is valuable for Ameren’s customers and UMSL students as well as the economic development of the region.

Ameren Accelerator interns

Warner Baxter (at left) converses with Ameren Accelerator interns and UMSL students (from left) Mohammad Aljamaan, Stephen Hanna and Yaniv Dudaie.

“The students have been engaged right from the very beginning,” Baxter said. “Being a graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, being a lifelong resident of St. Louis, my heart is here. We as an organization have the opportunity to give back but also to give unique opportunities for these folks to interact with our company and get involved in the energy space. That’s called a win-win-win no matter how you look at it. That’s why this program is so unique.”

Each company will receive $100,000 in seed funding in addition to intensive mentoring, technical assistance, facilities and networking connections from the Ameren Accelerator partners. The participants will be based out of UMSL Accelerate and Capital Innovators co-working spaces located in Cortex.

The selected companies include:

  • /blossom of St. Louis, a tool for businesses to connect and gather data and control their resources remotely
  • Hyperion Sensors of Canada, which is developing a distributed fiber-optic sensor for gathering data from deep within high voltage assets, such as power transformers
  • Omega Grid of Chicago, which enables utilities to allow distributed energy asset owners to sell excess generation on the distribution grid
  • Rebate Bus of Madison, Wisconsin, which allows utility incentives to be paid online at the point of sale via e-commerce websites
  • SensrTrx of St. Louis, an industrial analytics application that provides a comprehensive view of performance and uptime of equipment systems through machine learning
  • Switched Source of East Lansing, Michigan, which is commercializing a power-electronics device that provides a new level of control for managing power flows on the distribution grid
  • and WIFIPLUG of the United Kingdom, an app-controlled plug that enables its users to control their electronic devices remotely.

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. Its 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 consulting and entrepreneurial-based programs, acts as a liaison between corporations, universities and startups and invests 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 accelerator in the country for four years in a row and has invested in and guided 70 companies to date. The Capital Innovators model is simple and effective: innovation, iteration and implementation.

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Sara Bell

Sara Bell