Billionaire Tom Siebel has formed the Siebel Energy Institute with an investment of $10 million to investigate the technology possibilities created by all the millions of sensors that are producing data on the nation’s energy infrastructure.
The Siebel Energy Institute will team with eight major research universities: University of California, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, École Polytechnique, University of Tokyo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Politecnico Di Torino, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. S. Shankar Sastry, the dean of the engineering school at UC Berkeley, will head up this new institute.
The Siebel Energy Institute marked its official launch with the announcement of 24 research grants nearing $1 million. The winning research proposals, led by engineering and computer science experts from the Institute’s member universities, will accelerate the development of algorithms and machine learning to improve the performance of modern energy systems.
The Institute is supported by an Industry Advisory Board that initially includes Pacific Gas & Electric, Honeywell, C3 Energy and other energy companies.
Siebel’s goal in forming the institute is to tap into innovation possibilities created by an army of smart-connected devices across the nation’s energy system that collectively generate massive amounts of data. Highly sophisticated statistical algorithms are necessary to integrate and correlate the data, create data-driven statistical models with predictive power, and extract value from this otherwise incomprehensible stream of information.
Twenty-four teams received either $50,000 or $25,000 seed grants, which will be used to develop research proposals to advance the science of machine learning to respond to electrical outages and cybersecurity attacks, manage increasingly complex load factors such as electric vehicle charging and optimize the power value chain.
The Siebel Energy Institute will grant 40-50 such research awards annually, in addition to providing ongoing financial support to funded projects.