Like the “Harvard of the [insert region here],” “the Next Silicon Valley” is a term so trite that it has become meaningless. You may have heard of the Silicon Hills, the Silicon Strip, Silicon Wadi, or even the Silicon Valley of the East. It seems that anyone with a pulse is trying to woo tech entrepreneurs into the next Silicon cluster. Nevertheless, tech activity is not limited to Northern California. A recent analysis by the Financial Times found that 60% of “unicorns” (tech startups that reach a $1 billion valuation) were created outside of California’s Bay Area.
Indeed, many local governments are trying to establish startup ecosystems to rival Silicon Valley, including the government of Washington, D.C. Recently, Mayor Vince Gray announced the awarding of grants to tech startups totaling over $800,000. Several of these companies represent the wave of innovation occurring in smart buildings. Aquicore, a real-time energy management software for commercial real estate and industrial facilities, received $122,500. And Azert, the developer of Smart(er) Socket, wall sockets integrated with Apple’s iBeacon technology and Wi-Fi, also received $122,500.
Other People’s Stuff
It might seem strange to think of wall sockets communicating, and even stranger to think of any building infrastructure using an Apple technology. What’s more, the idea of a software startup that relies entirely on building controls hardware made and installed by other vendors was until recently unthinkable. In the past, building systems were specifically designed not to work with other vendors’ products in order to ensure a long-term market for replacements and upgrades. But the convergence of building technology and information technology, the adoption of open protocols, and greater integration between building automation systems have lowered the barriers to entry in the smart building market.
These startups demonstrate that the competitive landscape of smart buildings is changing. It’s easier than ever to get building data, meaning that a wider pool of competitors are emerging. What’s striking, and hopefully indicative of future trends, is that these companies are springing up in Washington, D.C., away from the established tech hub of Silicon Valley and away from established global building controls manufacturers. Future innovation in smart buildings can be driven by anyone, anywhere.
Tags: Building Systems, Energy Efficient Buildings, Finance & Investing, Smart Buildings Program
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