The same technology underlying the efficiency of bitcoin transactions and largely responsible for the online currency’s success could be the key to developing a smarter energy grid. Blockchain, a shared, encrypted ledger maintained by a network of computers, gives bitcoin transactions their unique peer-to-peer quality, making the entire system decentralized without a central repository or single administrator. While the electricity grid still relies on centralized plants generating power sent over long distances, blockchain technology could help modernize the system, making it easier for smaller, distributed networks to connect to the grid and exchange power locally.
Tom Burton is Chair of the firm’s Energy & Sustainability Practice, which he founded in 2004. A Member in the firm’s Boston office, his global practice focuses on complex corporate finance matters including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, private equity, and securities transactions. He represents high-growth and emerging businesses, including companies in the energy and clean technology, social media and software industries, as well as life science companies, from start-ups to public companies.
On September 27, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) released a Request for Proposals seeking applications to the InnovateMass program, which provides up to $250,000 in grant funding for clean energy and water innovation technologies that demonstrate a strong potential for commercialization. In this cycle, MassCEC will also be funding a robotics technology demonstration project under the InnovateMass Robotics Carve-Out. Grants will be awarded to projects that (1) demonstrate innovations in a robot’s energy supply and/or storage system; or (2) deploy robots for clean energy applications.
Building, maintaining, and scaling a sustainable and innovative robotics companies requires accounting for a number of corporate and legal considerations unique to the start-up technology space. For those considering submitting a proposal under the InnovateMass Robotics Carve-Out, Mintz Levin’s Robotics, UAV, and AI practice may offer some valuable insights. When establishing or expanding on a robotics venture, there are a number of vital decisions to be made each step of the way, such as: hiring a key developer, negotiating a critical license or government contract, developing a commercialization strategy, sourcing and negotiating with investors, or seeking exit. Mintz Levin’s team of attorneys and technology specialists has helped groundbreaking robotics companies across the country successfully navigate these questions, and shares key lessons and invaluable resources for similar ventures on its interactive dynamic website, http://www.mintzedge.com/.
As MassCEC’s RFP reflects, the push for scalable innovation in energy, robotics, and artificial intelligence technology is greater than ever before. Along with a skyrocketing demand to commercialize these technologies, we are also seeing major growth in private investment and M&A transactions in the robotics space. 2016 saw over $19 billion paid to acquire 50 robotics companies – a huge leap from $2.27 billion for 32 acquisitions in 2015. 2016 also proved to be the “best year ever for funding robotics startup companies,” with 128 companies seeing a boom in venture capital investments totaling $1.95 billion (a 50% increase from 2015). Companies like Google and Softbank have a vested interest in harnessing and building upon the significant progress initiated by smaller, more targeted tech enterprises, and they’re willing to pay for it – so it makes sense for robotics companies to strategize early for a potential exit transaction down the road. In his article for the National Law Review, Mintz Levin’s Marc Mantell offers a deeper look into the essential elements of the most successful robotics company sales: securing the right legal, accounting, and financial teams; preparing a data room; assessing your intellectual property; carefully approaching deal structure; and protecting your confidential information. Check out Marc’s full recommendations here.
On September 11th, Tesla announced the opening of Supercharger stations in downtown Boston and Chicago, representing the first step in the company’s effort to expand its Supercharger network into urban areas. The company currently operates 951 Supercharger stations worldwide, primarily along major highways to provide quick recharging on long trips. By bringing the network of charging stations into city centers, Tesla hopes to service growing demand among urban dwellers without immediate access to home or workplace charging.
On August 23, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $455,000 in grants to seven early-stage researchers and companies developing clean energy technologies as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Catalyst program.
On August 23, Massachusetts joined the eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in announcing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030 relative to 2020 levels. The nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the RGGI counts Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts as members. Since 2009, the initiative has employed a cap-and-trade program to lower emissions, and the proceeds from the pollution permit auctions are used to support energy efficiency programs in the member states. This most recent plan would lower emissions by more than 65 percent since the initiative’s inception.
On August 11th, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) released its final set of proposed regulations for the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, which aims to deploy another 1,600 MW of new solar resources in the Commonwealth.
In early April 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) partnered with investor-owned electric distribution companies across the state to jointly issue a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy generation. The mission of the RFP is to ultimately help the state meet goals outlined by energy diversity legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2016. By the time the initial deadline closed on July 27th, the state had received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio.
On July 19-20, 2017, Big Path Capital hosted its 9th annual Impact Capitalism Summit in Nantucket. Mintz Levin is has been proud to serve as a sponsor of the event for the past three years. The Impact Capitalism Summit is the largest convening of investors focused on maximizing impact and maximizing return. This year’s Summit focused on the future of impact investing as the new mainstream. Our own Tom Burton moderated a panel on the power of impact investing as it relates to climate change, highlighting its potential to engage broader, bipartisan engagement of actors across industries.
On June 22, 2017 the Baker-Polito Administration announced $960,000 in grants for STEM and clean energy learning programs for six Massachusetts high schools to help direct students towards STEM higher education majors and careers. The Lean and Earn program grants were awarded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and amount to $160,000 per school. Following the announcement, Governor Charlie Baker affirmed that his administration “is committed to providing new pathways for Massachusetts’ students to explore opportunities in STEM-related fields. Encouraging students to pursue studying clean energy and STEM subjects will strengthen our future workforce and further improve our nation-leading innovation economy.” Continue Reading Baker-Polito Administration Supports Clean Energy Education with $960,000 in STEM Learning Grants