Energy Innovation Center begins construction, announces new tenant

Phase one of construction for the Energy Innovation Center began on Monday with a focus on creating office space for a segment of the business startups and business service providers that will call the center home.

The EIC, announced by the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium in August, will provide a central facility for companies, startups, institutions and government entities to conduct research and advance innovation in the energy, power and control industry.

Coinciding with the kickoff of construction, the EIC has secured its third tenant, Edison DC Systems. The company, which joins tenants Alliance Federated Energy and the Manufacturing Diversity Institute, is in the midst of developing a power conversion system for data centers. The system converts alternating current into direct current more efficiently, leading to significant savings for energy consumers. The company’s system “creates a unique, clean, uninterruptable power supply,” according to an announcement from M-WERC, which is leading the development of the EIC.

“We are excited about the market for companies looking to incorporate this type of technology, said Edison DC Systems co-founder John Meinecke. “We’re designing a product that just hasn’t been available until now. The technology partners and resources available at the EIC make it a great fit. The availability of power, research labs and expertise allows us to do the type of load testing necessary to bring our products to market.”

The $9.6 million innovation center will occupy 65,000 square feet in the Century City Tower, formerly the Eaton Corp. research building, with room for 60 tenants total. About 22 of those tenants will be business startups, who will work within a startup incubator model with access to in-house mentors and business service providers, including legal, marketing and engineering professionals. Those providers will be announced in December, according to Jeff Anthony, executive director of the EIC.

Additional tenants will be comprised of corporate, academic and government entities with a vested interest in the energy sector.

M-WERC is continuing to screen inquiries from prospective tenants as well as reach out to tenants it believes would be served well by the center, Anthony said. The center will also launch an application and solicitation process for startup tenants in early 2015.

Within phase one of construction, office space for nine business startups and office space for business service providers will likely be completed on the center’s seventh floor by the end of the year, according to Anthony. After the start of 2015, construction efforts will revamp the second floor to create office space for additional business startups as well as lab space for all startups located in the center.

Phase one of construction will also address the third floor, which will be outfitted to meet the needs of corporate and academic tenants once those tenants have been identified, according to Anthony.

The EIC plans to host a grand opening following the completion of phase one next September. Phase two will likely run from September through October 2016, when the center hopes to have all construction completed and full occupation, Anthony said.

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