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January 18, 2010

Smart Grid Summit Preview (Part 3)

By Jon Arnold (ICP), Co-founder, Intelligent Communications Partners

This is the last in my series of preview articles for the Smart Grid Summit, which I can now say is this week – barely 48 hours away in fact. Once the summit starts, my posts this week will shift from being previews to recaps of each day’s highlights. If you haven’t made your plans yet to attend, this is my last pitch to seal the deal. With that said, here are a few more must-see highlights for each of our three days.

For Wednesday, if you have even the slightest interest in the financial aspects of smart grid, you won’t want to miss my Investment Climate for Startups session. It runs from 1:45 to 2:30, and joining me are two very strong speakers, either of whom could easily fill out the time on their own. Things will get started with Nicola Kerslake from Atrasti Capital, followed by Dharmesh Thakker of ATV Capital. Both will provide seasoned perspectives, not just on the smart grid environment, but the broader clean tech/green tech space that VCs have been supporting for some time. 

Smart grid is a newer branch on that tree, and has its own set of challenges. In many ways, it is still too early to fund startups in this space, but there is no doubt that as the market matures, new niches will emerge that are attractive to VCs. Please join us, and be part of the conversation. I can also tell you this session will be a sign of bigger things to come for our next summit this fall in Los Angeles. With so much of the VC community being based there, we’ve already received strong support to be with us then, and I expect we’ll have multiple sessions to explore various types of investment opportunities, as well as showcase promising smart grid startups.

Wednesday features a full slate of sessions and keynotes, most of which I touched on in an earlier preview article. However, I do want to highlight another session you really should come see. At 11:00 am, Christine Hertzog is moderating the Game-Changing Applications session. This area is of particular interest to Christine, and aside from her own analysis, you’ll hear from four companies, each with a different approach to applications. Joining Christine will be speakers from majors SAP (News - Alert), GridPoint and Enernoc, along with Toronto-based startup SEI.

First thing Thursday, my ICP partner Shidan Gouran will reprise the Standards and Interoperability Review session at 8:30. For those who attended our first Summit, I’m sure you’ll remember how animated this session was. As with the early days of telecom moving to adopt IP, we have similar issues, challenges and opportunities facing both utilities and vendors. Once again, we feel it’s important to bring SIP into the dialog, and Richard Shockey is returning to do just that from the SIP Forum’s perspective. He will actually speak more broadly, and for those of you interested in where SIP fits into smart grid, he will apprise us on the status of the SIP Forum’s recently formed Working Group for this topic. On that note, you’re invited to join both Richard and Arjun Roychowdhury (News - Alert) at 5:30, as they host the SIP Forum’s Birds of a Feather session to drill down a bit deeper in a more informal setting.

Joining Richard on the morning panel will be Bill Moroney, president and CEO of UTC, and Brian Huey, manager of Strategic Planning at Sprint Nextel (News - Alert). Standards and interop have many strains, and we cannot possibly address them all in one session. UTC, of course, is a major industry body, and Bill will address the most pressing issues from his perspective. Wireless is a theme unto itself in, and for that reason, we’re very pleased to have Brian join the session. You can expect to see him touch on topics such as the impact of open ecosystems like Android, as well as the implications for standards and interop around mobile backhaul, both of which will be relevant to any wireless operator with smart grid ambitions.

On Friday, we have two sessions, both of which address very practical and strategic aspects of smart grid. First is Smart Grid Security at 9:15, followed by Enterprise Energy Management and Green IT at 10:15. Shidan will moderate the security and privacy session, which promises to be an engaging update from this panel which also ran at the first summit. Joining Shidan will be two important vendors in this space, along with a public policy perspective on privacy and the grid. From the vendors, we welcome Mocana’s (News - Alert) return with Kurt Stammberger, along with Rick Geiger from Cisco, who will be with us for the first time. On the policy side we have the highly-regarded Catherine Thompson, from the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Office. 

Following this is our last session, moderated by Bob Emmerson. This is a space he’s quite conversant with, and will have his hands full managing three major players in enterprise energy management and green IT. Joining Bob will be Charles O’Donnell from Emerson Network Power, Paul Smith from Lineage Power, and Todd Hawthorne from Cisco. Again, this is a rich topic that could be split into several sessions, but in terms of getting an intense overview in just 45 minutes, this will be time well spent.

That’s all I can tell you for now, aside from saying that the Miami weather forecast is looking good. I’ll be there tomorrow, and hope to see you in B117!

Learn more about Smart Grid technology at the Smart Grid Summit, an event collocated with ITEXPO East 2010, to be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami. This is the event you need to attend if you want to understand the role that IP communications technologies will play in how the Smart Grid evolves – not just for making utilities more efficient, but also for enabling the Smart Home and a new generation of communications innovations. Register now.

Jon Arnold is co-founder of Intelligent Communications Partners (News - Alert) (ICP), a strategic advisory consultancy focused on the emerging Smart Grid opportunity. To read more of his Smart Grid articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire


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