Just over 69 years ago, the United Nations (UN) Charter was signed in San Francisco. That Charter, bringing the UN into creation, has many social, cultural, and humanitarian directives, as well as articles aimed at “international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic character.” That spirit of cooperation is alive in San Francisco, as evidenced by many international innovation showcases that aim to spur collaboration between the United States and other countries, spread some of the startup magic found across the Bay Area, and simply showcase innovation around the globe.
For example, the German government helps sponsor the German Accelerator in both Silicon Valley and New York. Its upcoming Captivate event is a startup pitch fest that brings German and German-American funders and entrepreneurs together with brief company pitch sessions. The Japan Society of Northern California is sponsoring its annual Innovation Showcase in early 2015 to highlight Japanese startups and award the title of “Emerging Leader” to one Japanese and one American entrepreneur whose companies are relevant to both U.S. and Japanese innovation. The City of San Francisco itself helps spur economic connections with China through its ChinaSF program. ChinaSF leaders say the program has recruited over 50 companies from the Bay Area to China and created more than 300 jobs since 2008.
The Intelligent Factory
The most recent of these events was the California France Forum on Energy Efficiency Technologies, held in late November in San Francisco. Focused on manufacturing and the smart factory concept, where IT is deeply integrated into the energy performance of industrial facilities, the forum was sponsored by Prime, a Paris-based high tech incubator, and French energy major EDF. I spoke on a panel that examined the challenges and potential role of industrial energy management (see Navigant Research’s report, Industrial Energy Management Systems), along with Ethan Rogers of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), who discussed the potential energy savings in the industrial sector.
Specifically, Rogers identified ACEEE’s scenario-based modeling that determined that the U.S. industrial sector could save between $7 billion and $25 billion in annual energy costs by 2035 through energy efficiency gains. Also on the panel was Arnaud Legrand, CEO of Energiency, a spinoff from Orange/France Telecom that aims to use big data analysis to improve industrial energy use through a software as a service-based solution, and Michel Morvan, co-founder of CoSMo Company.
CoSMo’s approach, based in the study of complex systems, is to use simulation to understand the regimes of behavior of industrial systems, accounting for supply chain, energy uses, workforce, and other inputs. Morvan views the factory as a system of systems, and his company has developed approaches to simulate the core elements as well as the interconnections between the systems. In this model, the goal is full energy optimization. CoSMo is set to fully launch in mid-2015.